There’s nothing quite like the pageantry and passion found around college football. Gameday traditions and tailgating help create a sense of community and deepen the bond that devoted fans feel with their beloved teams and schools.
Each school has their own unique, long-standing traditions. Read on to learn more about a few of our favorites.
1. War for the Oar (The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party)
Every year, Florida and Georgia face off in Jacksonville, Florida, to see who will take home the Okefenokee Oar. Instead of a traditional trophy, the winner of the annual Georgia-Florida game gets to take home the 12-foot oar, carved from the remains of a 1,000-year-old cypress tree from the Okefenokee Swamp, a 438,000-mile wetland that straddles the border between the two states.
Originally, this massive tailgate party was called "The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party”. Sounds fun to us!
2. Walk of Champions
Fans of the University of Mississippi, or Ole Miss, know the Walk of Champions well. Two hours before every home game, the entire team walks through the "Grove," the hub of the campus, where their fans are waiting to greet them wearing their best Red and Blue while “Are You Ready” rolls through the Grove.
The tradition started in 1985 and continues to this day.
3. Cockaboose Railroad
You may not see much of a connection between railroads and football, but South Carolina fans feel a bit differently. About 50 yards from the entrance to the Williams-Brice stadium sits a stationary track with 22 bright red luxury cabooses parked on top. You can actually rent the train cars themselves, and they’ve become integral to the tailgating experience in South Carolina and are a fun way to party in a bit of class and style.
4. LSU Tailgate - Feast for Fans
If your team is playing at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, be sure to arrive at the tailgate party with an empty stomach. Fans tend to welcome all to enjoy regional dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish, étouffée, and corn maque choux.
ESPN named LSU the top tailgating spot in the entire country a couple years back. Whether it’s the incredible Cajun food, “The March Down the Hill”, or the LSU band’s pre-game show, catching a game in Baton Rouge is a must for any football diehard.
5. Sailgating at Husky Harbor
The University of Washington is known by many as “The Best Setting in College Football”. The stadium is right on the water of Union Bay, so fans travel to and from it on boats.
The unique experience of enjoying a barbecue on a boat, coupled with the proximity to the stadium itself and the gorgeous views of the Cascade and Olympic Mountains, makes these parties unforgettable to all who participate.
6. Bird’s Eye View from Tightwad Hill
Normally, tailgating parties happen in the parking lot surrounding a stadium. The University of California, however, has Charter Hill, or "Tightwad Hill," for Golden Bear fans, which is the tailgating location of choice for many. The hill provides an amazing view of the stadium for free, hence the nickname. This free seating allows you to enjoy barbecue and beer throughout the game without missing any important plays.
7. Midnight Yell
Texas A&M has a ton of unique traditions and none-better that the Midnight Yell. The Yell leaders lead current and former students and the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band into the stadium and then lead them in "The Aggie War Hymn" before weaving a story about how the Aggies will win the game. Then, the next day, a weekend-long tailgate begins, with plenty of food and drink for fans to enjoy.
8. Harvard vs. Yale - The Game
We’re sure you can find some good BBQ and beer at the annual Harvard vs Yale game, but this tailgate is known for the exceptional wine and cheese. This tailgate tradition is fit for the bourgeoisie. The first game in this illustrious rivalry happened in 1875. It’s the biggest game on each team’s schedule every year.
There are plenty more tailgating traditions out there that we didn't cover, such as Tennessee's tailgate, which is held on boats like Washington's, and Penn State's Nittanyville. The truth is, with the many colleges across the country and their diverse fans, there are almost too many traditions out there to count.
Did we miss one? Tell us about your favorite college football traditions in the comments below.