The history of college sports is full of strange, odd and unusual stories that are hard to believe. Fans throwing tortillas or hurling marshmallows with pennies inside are just two examples of the oddities of college sports. How many of the following have you heard about?
UC Santa Barbara Fans and Tortillas
UC Santa Barbara basketball started the tortilla throwing tradition quietly. When the tradition began in the early 1990s, tortillas were thrown after the first point of the game was scored and that was that. By the mid-1990s, however, fans got carried away. After fans covered the entire stadium floor with tortillas in 1997, referees stopped the game. In another game, out of control fans threw tortillas in the faces of visiting team players. The destruction of an ESPN camera after tortilla scraps entered the mechanism was the last straw. Throwing tortillas at basketball games is now banned but enthusiastic fans still throw tortillas during soccer games.
The Ohio State Marching Band maintains a tradition that started back in 1936. For three minutes during home football games, the marching band’s 192 members unwind and form the word “Ohio” in script, complete with a dotted letter “i.” In fact, the actual dotting of the “i” is a ceremony performed with a sousaphone by a senior band member who has worked hard to become worthy of the honor.
University of Arkansas fans use an unusual cheer to root for their team. “Calling the Hogs” is a long-standing tradition with unknown origins. Rumor has it that the cheer was started by a group of farmers in the 1920s to root for the football team. Whatever the origin, “Calling the Hogs” is a fan favorite. The cheer lyrics are precisely timed and include participants raising and lowering their arms and using fingers gestures at the proper time. The so-called “Woo Pig Sooie!” hog call was recently granted trademark status and is now a registered trademark of the University of Arkansas.
The Florida State football team’s Sod Cemetery is just a little unusual. When the Florida State Seminoles win on the road, they remove a small piece of the playing field, bring it home, bury it and install a grave marker. The Sod Cemetery currently has more than 85 pieces of turf.
The Virginia Tech Hokies have an unusual way to incite the crowd at home football games. Every so often, the sound of a turkey gobble sounds over the public address system and the crowd goes wild. The tradition honors the memory of local boy and first team mascot Floyde “Hard Times” Meade. Meade brought trained turkeys to late 19th century games, paraded them on the sidelines and made them gobble on command. Another odd Virginia Tech football tradition happens between the third and fourth quarters when the Marching Virginians Marching Band tuba players play and dance to the “Hokie Pokie.”
A tradition at the University of Wisconsin in Madison has a sting to it. Fans embed pennies in marshmallows and freeze the tiny delicacies. During football games, fans throw the frozen pellet-like objects at opposing players. A tarp was installed in 1993 to protect opposing players on the trip from the locker room to the playing field. The tarp makes it more difficult to hit players with frozen marshmallows, but that doesn’t deter many of the fans. The University of Wisconsin also has two musical traditions that are decidedly odd. Between the third and fourth quarters, the marching band plays “Jump Around” and the fans do just that, making the stadium sway. After the game, in what is called the Fifth Quarter Show, the band plays the Budweiser theme song and cheerleaders dance a polka.
The Florida Gator football team finds inspiration before each home game from an unlikely source. As players head out to the field, each taps the sacred gator head that sits between the field and the locker room. Many players claim they feel more energetic and feel stronger after tapping the gator head. Some admit to having goose bumps just thinking about it.
AC/DC provides inspiration to players and crowds at Iowa Hawkeye home football games. As players wearing black jerseys walk the tunnel toward the field, the band plays AC/DC’s “Back in Black.” The fans go wild.
Georgia Tech’s Ramblin’ Wreck is a striking gold 1930 Model A Ford Sport Coupe. It’s been a pregame staple at home games since 1961. Its name comes from a 1927 reference to Floyd Field’s 1914 Ford clunker. Field was the Dean of Men at the time. The clunker inspired an annual race, which is no longer in existence, and the Ramblin’ Wreck Parade, which still is.