The Friday List: My Favorite B1G Football Traditions

Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

The Friday List: My Favorite B1G Football Traditions

The List is back. This week, let’s celebrate the best traditions around Big Ten football. There are many things that make college football the best sport in the nation. Traditions rank right at the top, and I’ve witnessed them all in person.

So, pour yourself a cup of apple cider, squirt some spicy mustard on your kielbasa, grab your pom-pom and enjoy my favorite Big Ten football traditions.

My guess is your favorites rank differently – of course, they do. Come tell me about it on Twitter and Facebook.

1. Ohio State’s Doting of the “I.” Watching “The Best Damn Band In The Land” form “Script Ohio” is a special experience. And the highlight is the dotting of the “I.” Mostly only sousaphone players are allowed. To be eligible for the honor, a sousaphone player must be at least a fourth-year band member. There have been exceptions, as Bob Hope, Woody Hayes, Buster Douglas, John Glenn and Jack Nicklaus–among others–have been bestowed the honor. But, it’s rare. And oh-so-special.

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2. Nebraska’s Tunnel Walk. This only dates to 1994, but it’s a good one at a place that has an unmatched football atmosphere. The Husker crowd goes nuts when the strains for Alan Parsons Project’s “Sirius” starts to blare from the loud speakers in Memorial Stadium. And then, their beloved Cornhuskers burst through the locker room doors and spill onto the field. Pandemonium.

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3. Wisconsin’s Jump Around. I like Bucky’s Fifth Quarter a lot. But the Jump Around tradition born in 1998 is just a tad more awesome. Between the third and fourth quarters, House of Pain’s song “Jump Around” is cued up and shakes the foundations of venerable Camp Randall Stadium. With the song splitting eardrums from La Crosse to Beloit, fans literally jump around. How nuts is it? If you are in the press box, you can feel it sway. And it’s kinda scary.

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4. Penn State Blue Buses. Love the throwback school buses that the team takes to Beaver Stadium. Maybe because it reminds me of my childhood elementary school field trips. Only these buses contain hulking Saturday afternoon heroes. The only thing missing: lunches packed in brown bags. Fans line the streets and hoot and holler as these blue icons chug to their destination. The first guy off the bus: The starting QB.

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5. Michigan’s Touching the Banner. This is a tradition that began in 1962. Former Wolverine coach Bump Elliott granted permission to the “M” club to form a tunnel before Homecoming that year. And, it continues today. Players assemble in the tunnel, and then sprint onto the field and jump to touch a banner that says “Go Blue M Club Supports You.”

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6. Iowa fans waving to children’s hospital. Who says traditions have to be old to be good? This heart-warming tradition was just hatched this year. After the first quarter, Hawkeye fans stand, turn toward the Children’s Hospital and wave to patients who look down on the black and gold throng. It melts my heart and it probaly melts yours, too.

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7. Illinois Block I Stunt Cards. This is one of the oldest traditions in the Big Ten, dating to 1926. It’s pretty cool. Students perform card stunts during games, forming designs that impress. A neat one is a creative visual that involves the cards creating an orange and blue mug. During the stunt, the crowd hollers “Chug, chug, chug!” while the mug empties. Classic.

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8. Purdue’s “I am an American.” A proud tradition during Ross-Ade Stadium pregame ceremonies is the reading of this tribute to freedom by John Hultman, “voice” of the Purdue All-American Marching Band, prior to the playing of the national anthem. The perfect backdrop: a cool and crisp mid-October afternoon with the leaves changing colors. Stand and say it with me. You are guaranteed to swell with pride:

“I am an American. That’s the way most of us put it, just matter of factly. They are plain words, those four: you could write them on your thumbnail, or sweep them across this bright autumn sky. But remember too, that they are more than just words. They are a way of life. So whenever you speak them, speak them firmly, speak them proudly, speak them gratefully. I am an American.”

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9. Minnesota’s Ski-U-Mah chant. First, know how to say it: SKY-YOU-MAH. Easy, right? P.J. Fleck had it mastered minutes after taking the job. There are a lot of chants across the college football landscape. But this is the best. It dates to 1884, when two Minnesota rugby players wanted to think of a fitting team yell. Years earlier, one heard a Native American yell “Ski-oo!” after a victorious canoe race. The rugby players added “Mah” to represent the University of Minnesota. A tradition was born.

Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer

About Tom Dienhart: BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, and send him questions to his weekly mailbag.

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