The hijinks continue — college sports traditions both big and small

Last week we covered some of college football’s timeless traditions. This week we continue, but include a few basketball capers. I will give you my vote for the best college football tradition when all is said and done.

THE HAWK FLAP. St. Joseph’s has a student don a hawk costume for its basketball games. All right. Not that unusual. Right? Well, this student better be in shape as the mascot starts flapping its wings upon entering the arena and does not stop — for the entire game!

All is well as long as the bird does not get airborne.

THE HOKIE BIRD. I had the opportunity to attend a Virginia Tech football game in Lane Stadium. I can attest to the fact that Hokie fans in Blacksburg have to be the nicest people I’ve ever encountered.

That being said, their mascot is known as the Hokie Bird as Tech changed its name from Gobblers to Hokies. Exactly what a Hokie is seems to be hard to pin down. I did see a coed in a T-shirt that said “What is a Hokie?” on the front.

The back read “I am a Hokie!” It didn’t really answer the question, but then again maybe it said everything.

I can tell you that the marching band does play the Hokey-Pokey at halftime. There’s nothing “Hokie” about that!

THE WORLD’S LARGEST DRUM. Do you know what university boasts of having this? If you said Purdue, you are correct. Built in 1921 at a cost of $911, it is played by two band members at once.

If you can’t get to West Lafayette for a game, you can see it at the Indy 500 where it makes an annual appearance.

HOMECOMING. Most colleges have a homecoming game, but do you know the university that started this tradition? In 1911 the athletic director at the University of Missouri invited alumni to “come home” to bolster attendance at a football game.

The rest is history.

$2. One interesting fan base puts an orange tiger paw on $2 bills before spending them when they go on road trips. If Clemson is playing in your city … be on the lookout!

A TOAST TO YOU. The University of Pennsylvania has a fight song, but then who doesn’t? There is a line in theirs, however, that prompts a massive reaction from the student body. When the students hear the phrase “here’s a toast to dear old Penn” bread, bagels or some other form of baked goods are hurtled toward the playing field.

Most of the projectiles land on the running track surrounding the field, but when the game is over Penn has a “toast” Zamboni that cleans up the mess. Where’s George Tirebiter when you need him?

VOW OF SILENCE. Here’s a tradition from a small college in Indiana, Taylor University. On the Friday before exams students dress in Halloween costumes and head to the gymnasium.

Upon entering the premises every student takes a vow of silence. Can you imagine a full gym with no noise? The vow lasts until Taylor scores its 10th point. That signals the end to the peace and quiet and the students storm the floor screaming and yelling. It results in a technical foul for the home team, but does give players on both teams a breather as it takes a while to restore order.

Now it’s time to determine the best tradition in college football. Everyone has their favorite team and thus favorite tradition, but in polls taken one has consistently been voted No. 1. Let’s take a look.

SCRIPT OHIO. When the “Best Damn Band in the Land” takes the field before Ohio State games the excitement builds. When they do their famed Script Ohio, fans stand and applaud.

The music is vivid for any Buckeye fan and when the sousaphone player dots the “I” — well, Buckeye fans simply go wild.

This tradition has been the “traditional” winner … until now. Though it’s tough for this OSU fan to vote for something else, let me explain.

Before I give you the new “best” tradition, let me answer the tease from last week. I asked you if you knew which university has painted the visiting locker room pink. Do you know?

THE PINK LOCKER ROOM. When Hayden Fry was coaching Iowa football, he ordered the visiting locker rooms to be painted pink. Fry studied psychology when he was in college and decided that being surrounded by everything pink — Iowa’s opponent would be less motivated.

True or not, the color remains.

Here now, by my edict, is the new best tradition in college football.

THE WAVE. We have to stay in Iowa City for this new tradition. The University of Iowa’s Children’s Hospital is located right next to Kinnick Stadium. The top three floors of the facility overlook the playing field.

Patients and their parents will flock to the windows of these floors to take their minds off their illnesses, at least for a few hours.

At the end of the first quarter the emotions get churning. Everyone inside the stadium — and I do mean everyone — stands and waves to the kids. Fans from both schools, players from both teams, coaches, media and the game officials all salute those children.

It is cathartic for everyone involved. If you get a chance to watch videos of the wave, by all means do so. The one I saw showed kids waving back with smiles on their faces. It also showed the referee — a person expected to be stoic and professional on this day — standing and waving with tears running down his cheek.

Now you know why I think the Iowa Wave is now No. 1. Let’s hope this tradition never ends.

Al Stephenson is a columnist for The Advertiser-Tribune.

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