College football is built on tradition. With every iteration of a university’s football team, whether they win or lose, a long line of traditions are passed down year after year to incoming students and new faces to the program, all the way down to the youngest generation of football fans who will one day be university alumni.
In the Southeastern Conference, football is king. No conference in the country competes with the king’s of college football, whether that be in stadium atmospheres or trying to match colors with these uniform traditions. Nowhere is tradition more deeply rooted than in the SEC.
There are hundreds of traditions that every university carries with it. Every school has its own unique entrance, postgame fight song, and pregame call to action. The beauty of college atmospheres are that no matter where you go, there is something unique about every university in the country.
What follows is a collection of one tradition that is unique to each SEC school. While there are so many others that help help define what it means to be an LSU Tiger or Tennessee Volunteer, these are some of the greatest traditions in the SEC.
14. Kentucky’s Call to the Post
Three hours west of Lexington is Churchill Downs, the hallowed ground where the Kentucky Derby is run every year. Despite the famous race track being closer to the University of Louisville, the Kentucky Wildcats decided to steal a tradition from the race — before every Kentucky Wildcats‘ football game, “The Call to the Post” signals the start of another game, just like it signals the imminent start of the “Run of the Roses.”
It’s a fun tradition, but it’s not exactly the most original, so it lands on the bottom of our list.
13. Truman’s Taxi in Missouri
The vintage 1950s Boone County firetruck carries Truman the Tiger, Missouri’s nationally-renowned mascot — Truman has won awards for the nation’s top mascot several times. Truman’s Taxi is a sweet, yellow and black ride that rolls around Faurot Field on game days to hype up the crowd.
Truman’s namesake, 33rd U.S. President Harry Truman, who was born in Lamar, Missouri, would be proud to see this SEC tradition carrying on after nearly 30 years.
12. We Are The Boys from Old Florida
You can ask 100 different people from around the country, and you’d probably hear 100 different answers about who first composed the tune to this Gators tradition. Several universities have oddly similar songs, but only one was written by Robert Swanson and John Icenhour for their barbershop quartet to honor the University of Florida.
At the end of every third quarter at The Swamp, Florida Gators‘ faithful rock side to side and belt this jam. The song isn’t the school’s official fight song, but it has set the tone for Gator fourth quarters for years.
11. The Anchor at Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt may not have the richest football history, but the university’s nickname has an allure all to its own. Cornelius Vanderbilt made his fortune in shipping, and the commodore was the commanding officer of a naval ship during the 19th century. The Vanderbilt Commodores carry on that navy tradition today by carrying an anchor onto the field.
Carrying the anchor is the highest honor given to Vanderbilt players — it represents stability and leadership of the team. Just like the school’s namesake, the Commodores lean on each other for support, and the anchor is a symbol of that trust.
10. Alabama’s Rammer Jammer
It’s relatively new to Alabama Crimson Tide football, but this tradition is widely considered one of the most unsportsmanlike in all of college football. The opening lyric “Hey (Team Name), we just beat the hell outta you!” might look bad on paper, but when you’ve won five nine national titles since 2009, you can do whatever you want.
The university banned the Million Dollar Band from playing it before and during games, but the school overwhelmingly voted to keep the jeer around. After games, when victory is imminent, Crimson Tide fans belt the cheer two times — unless they’re playing a rival like Auburn, when they let it loose over and over again. If Alabama wasn’t so dominant, this tradition likely wouldn’t carry on like it has.
9. Running Through the ‘T’ at Tennessee
A lot of school’s have similar entrances onto the field, but none are as recognizable as the Tennessee Volunteers. The Tennessee football team first ran through the giant T formed by the Pride of the Southland Band on September 18, 1965. Since then, the Vols have ran onto Neyland Stadium the same way every home game.
It’s over 50 years old, and it’s still one of the coolest entrances in all of college football, let alone the SEC. Watching the band do its thing pregame builds the anticipation until the moment when the first outline of the fabled ‘T’ takes shape. That’s when it gets loud, and Volunteer faithful prepare for their team to take the field.
8. Auburn’s War Eagle Flight
It’s the school’s battle cry, fan-to-fan greeting, and also their most celebrated mascot. Aubie the Tiger is the official mascot, but the flight of the war eagle pregame is one of the coolest traditions in the SEC.
Since 1960, a golden eagle lives on campus, but starting in 2001, an eagle swoops in over Jordan-Hare Stadium signaling the start of another Auburn Tigers football game. Nova, a golden eagle, and Spirit, a bald eagle, both have soared over Auburn fans in an awesome spectacle for the Tigers faithful. I’m no expert in Bird Law, but getting an eagle to take off, fly around and come back to the trainer is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.
7. Calling The Hogs of Arkansas
University calls define where you are in the country. In Arkansas, where fans have only been treated to three double-digit win seasons in their 27 years as a member of the SEC, they have one of the most original, albeit quirky, callback traditions in college football.
‘Wooooo, Pig Souie!” rings loud and proud from Razorback Stadium during the pregame festivities, in-game, and all around campus during the year. It’s a tradition Arkansas faithful love, and it makes Razorback football unique to any other team in the SEC.
6. LSU’s NSFW ‘Neck Chant’
Let’s be real: Tiger Stadium in Death Valley already gives Louisiana State University a huge advantage. But when you mix in one of college football’s most distracting student chants into the mix, and you realize you’re climbing an uphill battle to get out of this game alive.
The LSU Tigers‘ band was banned from playing their rendition of “Talkin’ Out Da Side of Ya Neck,” but the song makes special appearances at games throughout the years. If you hear ‘Neck’ and the touchy lyrics that come with it, chances are high that you’re probably losing in a big way.
Fair warning: don’t listen to this one with the sound too high if you’re hiding at work.
5. South Carolina’s Cockabooses
It’s one of the lesser known traditions, but it’s hands-down one of the best tailgating traditions in the entire nation. There are 22 old train cabooses whose permanent home is being Williams-Brice Stadium, each of which are privately owned. The moniker — Gamecocks plus caboose — has a great ring to it, and fan’s love having them so close to the stadium. They may be a little too exclusive, but they’re worth the price of admission.
Want to get one for yourself? Go for it — one Cockaboose can be purchased for up to $300,000.
4. Texas A&M’s Midnight Yell
Although it’s not an in-game treat, consider Texas A&M’s midnight yell as the ultimate pregame. Since 1907, when Texas A&M was an all-male, military university, the midnight yell was a way to get fans fired up for the following day’s home football game.
Some 40,000 Aggie faithful descend into Kyle Field where “The 12th Man” practices to give their football team one of the best home atmospheres in the SEC. Showing up in numbers like this is impressive on game day. The night before the game, though? This is a beast of an SEC football tradition.
3. Uga the Bulldog
He’s cute, he’s cuddly, and one even tried to bite an Auburn player. There have been 10 Uga bulldogs since 1956, all of which have built a legacy that’s won numerous awards for the best mascot in college football, and still is the most recognizable mascot in the entire SEC.
Raised by the Seiler family, Uga attends every Georgia football game, roaming the sidelines, making dog lovers swoon, and cheering on the Georgia football team. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more well-liked mascot in the entire nation. Expect this tradition to go on for as long as the Georgia Bulldogs play football.
2. Mississippi State’s Cowbells
They say you never forgot your first. By that, of course I mean you never forget your first Mississippi State cowbell. It’s a time-honored tradition that gets passed down generation after generation, and it’s a tradition that dates back to the 1930’s. Cowbells are painted and decorated, and you must have your first cowbell passed down to you.
It’s such an epic tradition that the SEC created a rule called the “Cowbell Compromise” that states Bulldogs fans cannot ring their cowbells while the play is actively going on. While this has nothing to do with Bulldogs, it’s one of the best traditions in the entire country.
1. The Grove at Ole Miss
During the week, it’s just a beautiful patch of Mississippi land. Come game day, Ole Miss Rebels come out of the woodwork to create the best tailgating tradition in the South. Thousands of Rebels invite Ole Miss fans, as well as visiting fans, to join in the festivities that seem to go on forever. Southern food, live music and Hotty Toddy dominate the atmosphere.
The festivities ultimately leads up to the Walk of Champions, when the Ole Miss head coach and team walk through The Grove heading towards Vaught-Hemingway Stadium for another football game. The Grove is the spirit of Ole Miss, and it holds the top spot on our list of the best SEC football traditions.