College football is all about traditions. These traditions connect past graduates, local fans, and the current team to one legacy. Some of these traditions date back decades. From the oldest to the weirdest, we’ve put together a list of some of the tailgating traditions from colleges around the country that are a must-do at any tailgating party.
University Of Colorado Buffaloes: Ralphie’s Run
In 1934, when the University of Colorado officially became The Buffaloes, they decided to get a live buffalo as a mascot. Ralphie the buffalo quickly became a fan favorite. Now at the start of each half of the game, the University of Colorado does Ralphie’s Run. Ralphie’s Run is a loop around the stadium. Ralphie is escorted by five handlers and the run is done at every home game. You can learn more about the history of Ralphie on Buff’s TV’s YouTube channel.
Fun Fact: Ralphie was voted the school’s homecoming queen in 1971.
Clemson University, Howard’s Rock
If you are having a tailgating party at Clemson University’s Memorial stadium, you will have to rub Howard’s Rock. Howard’s rock was once a gift given to Coach Frank Howard from Death Valley. The rock eventually found its way to the top of a pedestal on September 24, 1966. That day Clemson won 40-35 against Virginia. As a result, team members started rubbing the stone for good luck. You can find the pedestal at the top of The Hill. You can learn more about Howard’s Rock on the Clemson Tigers website.
Fun Fact: Clemson fans also use $2 bills when at away games to show cities that the Tigers are in town.
University Of Oklahoma, Sooner Schooner
College teams have a wide array of mascots, but no one has one as unusual as the University of Oklahoma. Sooner Schooner, a white wagon pulled by two white horses, is the official mascot of Oklahoma. Since 1964, whenever the team scores, Sooner Schooner races across the field to celebrate.
Fun Fact: The horses are named Sooner and Boomer and have their own costume mascots.
Texas A&M, Midnight Yell
One of the oldest traditions in college football is the midnight yell. Dating back to 1913, it started as a post dinner activity. However, in 1931 a group of cadets started doing the midnight yell the night before every game. For home games the Midnight Yell takes place at Kyle Field and is attended by more than 25,000 people. Talk about a great tailgating party!
Fun Fact: Texas A&M does not have cheerleaders, instead has yell leaders that are elected by the student body to lead the yells.
University of Nebraska, The Nebraska Tunnel Walk
One of the new college football traditions comes from the University of Nebraska. Since Nebraska doesn’t have an NFLteam, football-loving Nebraskans throw all their support behind the Cornhuskers and are known for being very enthusiastic. That enthusiasm is highlighted with the Nebraska Tunnel Walk. The tunnel walk is done before and after every home game, where players first touch a lucky horseshoe and then walk a red carpeted tunnel as fans cheer them on and give them high fives. Learn more about it on the Huskers’ website.
Fun Fact: The Nebraska Tunnel Walk started in 1994 and that year the Huskers won the national championship.
University of Iowa, The Wave
Get ready for the most heartwarming tradition in college football. The Wave started in 2017 by Iowa fans when the Stead Family Children’s Hospital was first built. The top floor of the hospital provides the perfect view of Kinnick Stadium, the home stadium of the Iowa Hawkeyes. During the first quarter of the game, all the fans started standing up and waving at the children in the hospital. The tradition quickly caught on and now even fans of the opposing team wave to the kids as well. You can learn more about how to support the great work of the Stead Family Children’s Hospital here.
Fun Fact: The Hawkeyes hire a pediatric patient to be a “Kid Captain” for each game. The Kid Captain meets the players and enjoys the game right from the sidelines.
University of Mississippi, The Grove
Now our list would not be complete without talking about The Grove. Arguably The Grove offers one of the best tailgating party experiences in college football. Starting in the 1950s, The Grove is a 10 acre park that during games transforms into a tailgater’s paradise. The tailgaters usually set up around noon and the tailgating party has been known to attract 100,000 fans! Sports Illustrated named The Grove the best tailgating party spot in the country. You can learn more about the history as well as get directions and tailgating tips on the University of Mississippi website.
Fun Fact: Payton and Eli Manning grew up tailgating at The Grove.
The University Of Washington, Sailgating
Nope, that is not a typo. Fans of the Huskies have sailgating parties. Husky Stadium is located right on Union Bay off Lake Washington, so fans tailgate on boats. The bay can hold 150 boats at any time, so if you’re looking to try it out, make sure to plan ahead so you can get in. Sailgating is such a popular event, there are even sailgating cruises you can charter for your tailgating team. Having a tailgating party on a boat sounds
Fun Fact: Another unusual tradition at Alaska Airlines Stadium is they play an air raid siren every time the Huskies score.
These are just some of the fun college football traditions around the country. Don’t see your favorite team? Don’t worry! If you’d like to learn about all the traditions for your college football team, check their website. They usually provide a full background on all the great traditions you can participate in.
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