College football is all about traditions, and although we love our University of Kentucky Wildcats, even the most diehard UK fan can admit to being envious of something another school has or does. In that spirit, I asked the KSR crew this question: if you could steal one thing from another college football team, whether it be a tradition, a uniform, a mascot, a stadium, a famous fan, etc., what would it be?
Here are our answers…
The Grove, Ole Miss
I’ve only been to The Grove once during football season and I was a teenager on a trip with my dad, so I’ve yet to truly experience America’s most famous tailgating spot. Even as a kid, I could tell it was sacred ground. The ten-acre commons in the middle of Ole Miss’ campus is party central on gameday, with as many as 100,000 fans packing in to revel in tents decked with chandeliers, fully-stocked bars, gourmet buffets, and flat-screen TVs. I’ve had plenty of fun in the parking lots around Kroger Field, but nothing compares to The Grove. Even in the middle of winter, I make sure to take a lap around it to marvel at the bottle caps embedded in the dirt before heading in to cover Kentucky’s games at The Pavilion (RIP Tad Pad).
Uga the Bulldog, Georgia
The Kentucky Wildcat mascot is great, but it is not a live bulldog. In everything but sports, I will always champion dogs above cats, and Uga is as good as it gets. Georgia’s mascot is treated like royalty, with an air-conditioned dog house on the sideline at Sanford Stadium, leather studded collar, and personalized jersey. Previous Ugas were buried in the end zones at the stadium until 1992, when they were moved to their current resting place, a mausoleum near the main entrance, where fans can leave flowers and gifts at their bronze statues.
On my last trip to Athens, I made it my mission to meet the new Uga, and I will say this: while I kept a polite distance for my photograph and pet, others do not; a very intoxicated Georgia fan kept shoving her phone in Uga’s crate for a picture, and, based on the look on the dog’s face, that seems to be a regular occurrence.
Jump Around, Wisconsin
I hate Wisconsin with the fire of a thousand Devin Bookers, but I am insanely jealous of their “Jump Around” tradition. Starting in 1998, the Badgers started playing the House of Pain hit at the start of the fourth quarter at Camp Randall Stadium and it quickly became one of the quirkiest traditions in college football. People jump around so much that the stadium shakes and sways, which is why campus administrators recommended halting the tradition during renovations in 2003, which led to a thundering chorus of boos at the home opener. After hiring an engineer to ensure that the stadium wouldn’t fall down if people jumped around, they started playing it again the next week. Even opposing teams do it:
LSU Tailgate Food
I am a sucker for any and all cajun food. New Orleans is one of my favorite cities and it’s not because of the drinks on Bourbon Street. I love cajun food — crawfish, red beans and rice, etoufee, shrimp and grits, gumbo, boudin balls — it’s all delicious. I’m prepared and willing to become obese if it means I get to enjoy those delicious items every single Saturday before a Kentucky football game. If you need to paint a clearer picture of the LSU eating and drinking experience, I suggest this article from Vice.
I have to be the one to say it: there’s no better way to get hyped for football in the SEC than with Sandstorm (excluding “Neck;” we gotta keep it PG-13 at KSR). Yes, the Rooster crowing is stupid and over the last decade South Carolina fans have became the easiest to hate for Kentucky fans. Still, Sandstorm is incredible because it’s interactive. The white towels bounce before the beat drops, then the entire stadium shakes.
Grove Street Party is great. It would not have become a tradition if not for Kentucky’s comeback victory over the Gamecocks in 2014. I get hyped every time I hear the song, but Sandstorm hits different.
Ohio State’s Marching Band
Tennessee tries to act like they have the best marching band in all of the land. Sure, they learned how to play the Game of Thrones song before anyone else, but did they cut up their rivals’ flag at midfield? I don’t think so.
Miami’s Turnover Chain
Morale boosts and momentum shifts are crucial in tight college football games, and Miami’s turnover chain is an instant example of both.
One of the most recent traditions on the long list of iconic displays throughout the nation, the rules of the turnover chain are simple: pick a ball off or recover a fumble and you get to throw on a gold chain worth roughly $100,000 while teammates shower you with praise. It’s simple, but it instantly became one of the hottest topics of college football when the Hurricanes introduced it back in 2017.
Besides, does any other tradition on this list have its own music video? I think not.
Oklahoma’s gameday tradition features the “Sooner Schooner,” a scaled-down replica of the Studebaker Conestoga wagon used by Oklahoma Territory settlers around the time of the Land Run of 1889, the first mobile home. Led by two white ponies named Boomer and Sooner, the wagon is carted onto the field home football games and bowl games in an arc that almost reaches the 50-yard line after every score.
The Sooner Schooner took a bit of a spill this past year – this also occurred back in 1993 – but that’s not stopping it from being one of the coolest traditions in sports.
Running With Ralphie
While the average college football fan may be aware of the previous two traditions, “Ralphie’s Run” is one that may be unfamiliar to some. If so, we need to change that today.
Prior to each Colorado football game, the Buffaloes’ live mascot – a 2,000-pound female bison named Ralphie – runs a lap around the field in Boulder while the fans cheer her on.
During each run, it take five “Ralphie Handlers” to run her around the field, with two up front to help steer, two on the back to guide her, and one behind to help control speed. On a good day, Ralphie can reach speeds of 25 miles per hour during her run around the field.
Think we can get a live Wildcat inside Kroger Field for a lap?
Tennessee’s record in the Kentucky-Tennessee rivalry
I love Kentucky’s rivalry with Tennessee across all sports. Tennessee sucks. The orange is hideous. Knoxville isn’t even in the same conversation as Lexington. The Vols’ basketball team gets excited to make the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament and the football team won’t see real success again until Peyton Manning comes out of retirement with a bonus year of college eligibility.
Kentucky’s record against Tennessee in football ain’t good. It’s the one thing Tennessee fans hold over Big Blue Nation and it’s a big one. Even when the Cats get down to the one-yard line only needing a good push and stumble forward into the end zone for a victory, Tennessee somehow prevails with a win. It’s happened 33 out of the last 35 years and it’s embarrassing.
So if we can take anything from another football program, I’m taking 81 wins in the head-to-head series and giving Tennessee our 25 wins. In that world, Tennessee is dead to us with no argument to make, the way it should be.
Yes I know Tyler already said The Grove but you can’t expect me, one of The Grove’s biggest fans, to not also list my favorite 10 acres in the entire Southeastern Conference.
As a three-time All-Star of all-day tailgating in The Grove (including one overnighter which we won’t get into), The Grove is home to some of my favorite stories of SEC road fun and college shenanigans. I once attended a family birthday dinner in a restaurant’s private basement for a young woman I had known approximately two hours after taking in an entire day of The Grove’s festivities. Again we won’t get into this but I tapped my knife on my glass and gave a toast to a room full of strangers, including her grandparents, only to then leave that party to end up with a mini-horse named Weebiscuit, a story the OG KSR followers have heard many times. And that’s only Chapter 1 of the Oxford tell-all book.
Oxford, Mississippi is a magical place and The Grove on a Saturday is its Disney World where everyone is happy… even though they’re all dressed the same. I wish Kentucky had an away game there every year, and I’ll never forget the pain when the SEC announced the Cats would have to wait 11 years between visits (2011 to 2022).
If I could trade traditions with any program in college football, I would give Ole Miss the Kroger Field parking lots for The Grove.
Now let’s hear from you!