Football In the South, 4 Things That Make it Unique Posted by: Aaron Stearns | 0 Comments
Football in the South is more than a sport; some even call it a religion, certainly a life-long ritual more celebrated than most other events. What makes football so unique in the South extends far beyond what happens on the field on fall Saturday’s as most families plan their fall calendar around Game Day Saturday schedules. These traditions have been built over decades, celebrated as part of the “Southern Experience” and passed down for generations. It’s much more than a game or event; it’s a fabric of the Southern Lifestyle. We set about to try and understand how Football in the South differs from the rest of our great country and our readers have provided us with the following observations.
See if you agree.
A quick tour of the stadiums in the south quickly reveals the mammoth size of the stadiums, parking lots, and tailgate areas. Yes, there are a few examples of large facilities outside the South, but when viewed in totality the average size of the college football stadiums in the South are much larger than the rest of the country. It’s not uncommon to see High School football stadiums in the south in excess of 20,000 seats.
Game day tailgating in the south starts with the multi-year process of trying to obtain tickets and parking passes. Tickets are so hard to come by families pass the tickets down to their heirs, as they typically require significant financial contributions and years on a waiting list for decent seats. Contrast this to many schools outside the South where one can walk in to the ticket office on game week and purchase tickets. With tickets and parking passes secured the logistics began with many fans arriving on the grounds for tailgate setup days before the Saturday game. RV’s adorned in school flags and colors start rolling in to town on Tuesday and many die-hard fans arrive on campus by Thursday. Most southern schools have 30,000 plus show up to tailgate and all have traditional team walks in to the stadium, but some of our absolute favorites tailgating parties are:
- The Grove, Ole Miss – so much more than a tail-gate, a full fledged cocktail party laid out among the beautiful backdrop of Magnolia, Elm, and Oak trees. Oh, and the dress, yes, enough seersucker to stretch from Oxford to Tuscaloosa. Hotty Toddy!
- The Volunteer Navy, Tennessee – Neyland Stadium is one of the few stadiums in the country constructed along side a River and the flotilla of hundreds of vessels tricked out in orange & white is a site to behold – yachts, boats, & floaters in tubes all converge to tie up and cheer the Vols.
- Death Valley, LSU – The Tigers originally started playing all home night games in the 1930’s to avoid the mid afternoon fall heat. It’s an all out “let the good times roll” raucous that carries over into the stadium making Tiger Stadium one of the loudest playing fields in the country.
- Fan Cockabooses, South Carolina – Williams Brice stadium is built beside a rail spur and a local businessman thought it would be novel to provide rabid fans a place to tailgate before games so he purchased 22 used CSX railcars to be on the track outside the stadium on game day. Lushly outfitted, if you can get an invite into a Cockaboose on game day in Columbia you are high styling.
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We love our football heroes in the South. It could be argued the rest of the country also has its sports heroes, like the famous NY Yankee roster or the historic Boston Celtics. In the South, every child knows in detail the stories of legends such as Bear Bryant, the Manning Family, or the feats of Bo Jackson or Earl Campbell.
Our most discussed topic, the rituals – oh the rituals, decades of celebration of the schools and teams we love. There are just too many to name so we chose a handful of our favorites.
- Kissing After a Touchdown – Texas A&M. Aside from the “12 Man” annually selected from the student body to be on the kick recovery team publicly kissing your date after every score is a noted Aggie tradition.
- The Sacred Stone – Clemson. Fifty years ago Coach Frank Howard once told his team “give me 110% of keep your filthy hands off my rock” and ever since the team runs down the hill into the roaring and raucous stadium rubbing Howard’s Rock for some added mojo.
- Mr. Two Bits – Florida. Insurance salesman George Edmonson took it on himself in 1949 to inspire the crowd with a pregame cheer. Six decades later, A-List Floridians lead the team in the pregame cheer before every home game in the Swamp.
- UGA, the Bulldog – Georgia. The tradition of UGA, the bulldog from Savannah is still alive and well 60 years later. Originally a wedding gift, the cuddly bulldog is a fixture on the sidelines and young fans make their way to get their picture with the famous mascot before every game in Athens.
- War Eagle – Auburn. A golden eagle has maintained residence on the Auburn campus since the 1930’s and since a golden eagle has taken flight as a pregame ritual at every game at Jordan Hare stadium as the crowd roars in anticipation of the upcoming contest.
- Woo Pig – Arkansas. After coach Bowden Wyatt told his undersized team following an upset victory they “fought like a bunch of wild pigs” fans adopted the “Lets call those Hogs” as a battle cry to incite the crowd and inspire the team.
- Ramblin’ Wreck – Georgia Tech. Of course an engineering school would have a mechanical ritual. The 1930 Ford Cabriolet Sport Coupe making a dash across the field before the game is a rich part of Georgia Tech history before every home game in Atlanta.
- Winning – Alabama. Alabama has many rich traditions and rituals, but by far their most notable ritual is simply winning, winning a lot.
We agree there are many, many more examples we could cite, but these stood out to our readers as very notable. Did we miss your favorite? Please let us know.
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