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OU, OSU make best college traditions list

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No. 8 on the list should have been credited to Oklahoma, not Notre Dame.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – A few weeks ago, Danny Flynn, a writer for Bleacher Report, listed the 100 best college football traditions. The lineup included three Oklahoma traditions and two for Oklahoma State.

“College football is a sport that’s known for its great historic traditions and pageantry,” Flynn wrote at “Mascots, marching bands, historic rivalries and school chants are the true lifeblood of the sport, and they’re what make college football so special. There are so many celebrated traditions that fans around the country hold dear in their hearts.”

Oklahoma State’s Waving Song came in at No. 99. The song is played after each Cowboy score and victory. Fans wave one arm side-to-side, but no opposing fans ever wave back. Flynn explained, “When the song is played, Cowboys fans join in unison and sway to the melody of the ‘The Streets of New York,’ a song originally used in the operetta ‘The Red Mill.’”

Coming in at No. 83 was OSU’s Pistol Pete mascot. The mascot was adopted from the likeness of a real Cowboy—Frank B. Eaton, who was seen riding in a parade in Stillwater in the 1920s.

“Boomer Sooner,” the battle cry of Oklahoma fans, was listed at No. 50. The shout of “Boomer!” is responded with “Sooner!”

“The volume and enthusiasm that fans use when screaming the chant is enough to rattle any opposing player while also helping to pump up the Sooners,” Flynn scribed referring to one half of the stadium shouting “Boomer!” while the other answers with “Sooner!”

The 20th best tradition is the annual showdown between Oklahoma and Texas in Dallas. Funny how he listed this as the Red River Rivalry since it is now known as the Red River Showdown. Most Sooner and Longhorn fans still prefer to call it Red River Rivalry, or Red River Shootout, as it was once known.

The Sooner Schooner came in at No. 16. The Conestoga wagon pulled by two ponies “Boomer” and “Sooner” gallop onto the field before each home game and after each Oklahoma touchdown and victory.

“Seeing the Schooner racing out onto the field really whips Oklahoma fans into a frenzy,” wrote Flynn.

Other Big 12 traditions included

Flynn included traditions of five other Big 12 schools, which are listed below:

No. 81. Waving the Wheat, which Kansas fans wave both arms side-to-side imitating wheat swaying in the wind. KU fans perform this feat during the Jayhawks’ fight song and after every score.

No. 70. West Virginia’s Mountaineer mascot, who is dressed in a buckskin suit and coonskin hat. He fires a musket after every score, and he leads the chant, “Let’s Go, Mountaineers!”

No. 64. The Pride of West Virginia’s pregame performance. Before every game, the 390-member marching band performs “Hail, West Virginia!” “Country Roads” and “Simple Gifts.” The band members also form the outline of the state of West Virginia.

61. Kansas State’s Wabash Cannonball. This American folk song was written by J.A. Roff in the 19th century and rewritten by William Kindt in 1904, and has been performed by many famous artists. KSU began using the tune as its unofficial song in 1968 and adopted it after a fire destroyed the marching band’s sheet music at one of the campus’ buildings.

49. Kansas’ Rock Chalk chant, a battle cry used by Jayhawks fans: “Rock chalk, Jayhawk, KU.”

46. Bevo, the Texas steer mascot. There have been 15 Steers serve as Bevo over the last 101 years.

36. Texas Tech Masked Rider. Dressed in a black outfit, mask, hat and red cape, the Masked Rider sprints across the gridiron on a horse before every game.

28. Texas’ Hook ‘em Horns—index and pinky fingers (two middle fingers and thumb tucked under) pointing skyward symbolizing the Bevo’s horns.

17. West Virginia Fans Sing “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” Mountaineers sing the tune, in unison before every game. The song, “Country Roads,” was written and sung by John Denver in the 1970s.

Texas A&M tops the bill

Texas A&M’s 12th Man topped Flynn’s tradition list: “It’s a tradition that revolves around the inspiring story of E. King Gill, a Texas A&M student who came out of the stands and took the place of an injured player in a game against defending champion Centre College back in 1922. Although Gill did not play actually in the game, his willingness to help out his team has come to symbolize the enthusiasm that the team’s fanbase has for supporting their Aggies.”

The only beef I have about Flynn’s list is Notre Dame’s “Play Like a Champion Today” sign, which came in at No. 8. Notre Dame didn’t invent this tradition. Oklahoma coach Bud Wilkinson did in the late 1940s. Notre Dame didn’t begin the tradition until 1986.

The late Mike Treps, former OU Sports Information Director and student at Oklahoma in the 1950s, told the Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel, in a 2012 story, that he remembered the sign being posted in the Sooners’ locker room in 1951.

Jay Wilkinson doesn’t know exactly when the sign went up, but he says it was early in his father’s OU tenure. Bud Wilkinson became head coach in 1947.

“One of the first things he did when he became a head coach,” Jay Wilkinson said. “It was pretty symbolic of his philosophy and his strategy.”

Jay Wilkinson doesn’t know where his dad got the phrase. “I don’t think my dad invented it,” he said. “I know that it was a big part of what he believed.”

Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz had the sign mounted in the Fighting Irish locker room in 1986. He had seen a photo of the sign in a book, but no one at the university remembered it being posted.

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About the Author

Ray Dozier

Ray Dozier is the author of Legends of Oklahoma Sooners Football and two editions of The...

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