BrooklynFans Of Books: College Football Traditions and Rivalries

College Football Traditions and Rivalries: Chants, Pranks, and Pageantry

Morrow Gift, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; Hardcover, $19.99; e-Book, $15.99

The College Football Playoff Championship game is Monday ngiht between Alabama and Clemson, and there is no better way to celebrate what makes this a quintessentially American sport than the new book College Football Traditions and Rivalries: Chants, Pranks, and Pageantry.

This is a must-have gift book for die-hard football fans, as well as casual followers, an artfully designed and illustrated guide which delves deeply into these traditions and rivalries throughout college football history.

This is an in-depth collection of the past and present lore of college football’s major teams, from the Nebraska Cornhusers to the University of Southern California Trojans to the Alabama Crimson Tide to the Michigan Wolverines to the Clemson Tigers, each school has its own unique traditions, trivia, and rivalries.

College Football Traditions and Rivalries focuses on the top schools from each division, and explores the history behind traditions such as how in 1949, Florida Gator fan George “Mr. 2 Bits” Edmondson started a cheer from the stands which has continued to this day; the Blackshirts, the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers’ first-string defensive unit named for their iconic black, pullover practice jerseys; the Motorcycle Man who drives Oregon’s mascot, The Duck, to lead the team both in their campus walk and onto the field; and the “Hokie” Pokey, a tradition in which fans perform the famous dance at the end of the third quarter of all Virginia Tech Hokie games.

Here are excerpts with some of the traditions you will learn about:

Tightwad Hill – University of California at Berkeley

Attendees of football games at UC Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium may see a strange sight: football fans in lawn chairs and on blankets camped out on a hill that overlooks the stadium. These dedicated cheepskates are part of a nearly century-long tradition at Berkeley known as Tightwad Hill.

Because of the placement of Memorial Stadium, one of the most scenic places to watch sporting events has always been from the vantage point of Charter Hill, which offers views of the city of Berkeley, as well as San Francisco and the Bay in the distance. The fact that Cal Bears’ fans can catch the games for free there is just an added bonus.

Tightwad Hill is considered to be part of the relaxed atmosphere on campus and in the surrounding city. Fans began gathering there to watch games back in 1923 when the stadium was first built, and have largely policed themselves in terms of sharing space and cleaning up after games. While disagreements certainly can crop up between fans sharing a limited space, Tightwad Hill’s reputation is largely peaceful and communal.

In 2006, Tightwad Hill was under threat of elimination with a new stadium redesign, but a group of Golden Bears fans banded together to fight it in court. They won, and this strange tradition was preserved for future generations of Berkeley freeloaders.

Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band – Stanford University

Marching bands have done a lot of crazy things over the years, but the most offensive and irreverent marching band in all of college football is hands-down the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band.

Formed in 1963 after the regular marching band went on strike to protest the firing of their beloved director, Jules Schucat, the JSJUMB does bot behave like any other college marching band. For starters, the band changes in size from performance to performance. They number their core group at roughly 30 participants, but for football games can field anywhere between 100 and 150 performers.

And their halftime shows are anything but typical. You won’t find the LSJUMB marching in neat lines spelling out “Stanford” or “Cardinal.” Rather, the band puts on elaborate musical skits that change each week. Their infamous “These Irish, Why Must They Fight?” halftime performance at a game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish mocked the Catholic Church and the use of the Irish people as a combative mascot for the school and landed the band in some hot water. Thankfully, they survived mostly unscathed.

Often political, always very tongue-in-cheek, and never predictable, one thing that the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band can always guarantee Cardinal fans is a fantastic time.

The Masked Rider – Texas Tech University

At the start of every home game at Texas Tech, the Red Raiders football team stands ready to run out onto the field and rile up their fans once their cue appears: the Masked Rider.

Like a gunshot, this imposing figure in a black mask, black hat, and red cape speeds across the field atop an intimidating all-black horse. With one arm raised, the rider whips the crowd into a frenzy as the horse careens down the field, clearing the way for the football team to sprint out.

This traditions started back in the 1930s but became an officially sanctioned event at The Gator Bowl on January 1, 1953, when Joe Kirk Fulton took the reins and charged across the field to lead out the Red Raiders before a stunned crowd. The crowd was so enthusiastic following Fulton’s ride, and the effect was so impressive, that the university decided to implement the ride as a tradition.

After Fulton, a number of Texas Tech students have taken the mantle of the rider, though they were all men until 1974 when a young woman named Ann Fulton was chosen. Though the choice was considered controversial at the time, many women have since been given the honor to ride down the field.

College Football Traditions and Rivalries is very informative, but also quite humorous complete with 70 beautiful, full-color illustrations.

This is a great, must-have collectible for college football fans of all ages who appreciate what makes it special.

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