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Flaming Spear ranks highest of the Top 20 college football traditions

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The NFL is a Xerox machine.

It is a league where 10-6 teams are trying to copy what 11-5 teams do, and 11-5 teams are working to duplicate what 12-4 teams are doing, and 12-4 teams seek to copy the Patriots. Everyone is trying to figure out a way out of third-and-14.

It’s a great game, the NFL. But unless you look closely, it’s hard to tell the Texans from the Titans or the Bills from the Bears. Everyone runs the same offenses, and the same defenses, and the same kick coverages. In the fourth quarter, the best quarterback wins. Hooray.

Ah, but college football is Baskin-Robbins. There is a flavor for every campus. There are traditions galore. As much as the players on the field, and as much as the coaches on the sideline, it is why we pay attention.

So here we go.

The top 20 college football traditions.

1. The Flaming Spear. I don’t care how many times I see it; it’s cool. Chief Osceola rides out on Renegade, and he throws a flaming spear into the ground. All at once, you have traditions and mascots and an animal. Does football get any better?

2. Toomer’s Corner: This one represents all that is good and all that is bad in college football. For decades, Auburn fans decorated the oaks at Toomer’s Corner to celebrate a victory. Some lunkhead Alabama fan poisoned them, but trees have been replanted. Get your toilet paper ready!

3. George P. Burdell: Every game, the students at Georgia Tech try to get a page in for George P. Burdell. He has to meet his wife at the concession stand, or his car is improperly parked. Something. When his name is announced, the fans go nuts. Good, clean fun.

4. Dotting the I: It’s a tradition at Ohio State. Somehow, crossing the t’s never quite caught on.

5. The Boys of Old Florida: Every fourth quarter, Florida fans sway to the old song. It’s a sweet sight.

6. Howard’s Rock: Clemson players take the field by rubbing the rock and running down the hill. A fairly intimidating sight.

7. The Sod Cemetery: Another brainstorm of FSU, a small area where the Seminoles collect turf of their biggest victories.

8. The 12th Man: Different teams designate their fans as 12th men, but it started at Texas A&M where a basketball player and former football player named E. King Gill dressed out in an emergency situation back in 1922. Since then, students have stood during games, ready to be called upon.

9. Touchdown Jesus. At Notre Dame, no explanation is needed.

10. The Pink Locker Room: Talk about psychological warfare. Iowa paints its visitors’ dressing room pink, which is hardly a color to make one fiery.

11. Rocky Top: Can you get that incessant song out of your head? There are others. Ramblin’ Wreck (Georgia Tech), All Right Now (Stanford), Sweet Home Alabama (Alabama) and Take Me Home, Country Roads (West Virginia) are but a few.

12. Floyd of Rosedale. Of all the trinkets played for across the country, this is my favorite. It’s a bronzed pig given to the winner of Iowa and Minnesota. You can also consider the Little Brown Jug, the Old Oaken Bucket and The Stanford Axe.

13. The Sooner Schooner. College football celebrates a lot of ways to get to the game. South Carolina has the Cockabooses. Tennessee has the Volunteer Navy.

14. Ralphie the Buffalo. This is dedicated to the animals on the sideline, including the War Eagle, Mike the Tiger and Bevo the cow. Also, there are horses.

15. Chucky Mullins’ Jersey. Mullins is a former Ole Miss defensive back who died in the game. Every spring, the best Ole Miss defensive back is awarded Mullins’ number to wear the following season.

16. The Haka. Before every game, members of the University of Hawaii perform the tribal dance.

17. The Chop and the Chomp: FSU and Florida fans try to give each other larger headaches during games.

18. Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk: They’ve been chanting at Kansas games for decades. If only anyone knew what it means.

19. The World’s Largest Drum: It’s been around Purdue since 1921, and yet, there has been no sighting of the World’s Largest Guitar.

20. The Calling of the Pigs: Why would you ever call a pig? They know at Arkansas, where they’ve been yelling “sooie” for a long time.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit

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