Best Of The Big 12 Traditions
By Steve Pipps
It’s the end of the first quarter and Trevor Knight drops back as the final seconds tick off. The Sooners could have let time expire and strolled into the second quarter, but every second counts in Bedlam. Knight cocks his arm and fires a strike into the end zone. A crafty one-handed catch by Sterling Shephard leads to an Oklahoma touchdown.
The Sooner Schooner rips onto the field as the crowd goes wild.
Every college football program has its traditions. Some more well-known or coveted than others, but all favored by their respective fan bases. It’s high time we take a look at some of the best traditions in the Big 12 and try to decide which one is the conference’s best.
To make it easier to examine, it’s best to break them up into two categories, animate and inanimate traditions (animate e.g. Bevo, Sooner Schooner, etc. inanimate e.g. OSU “Waving Song,” WVU “Take Me Home, Country Roads”).
First the inanimate:
“Take Me Home, Country Roads” is a John Denver classic that has become a post-game phenomenon at WVU. After any home-game win the song is played throughout the stadium while the crowd is encouraged to stay and sing along. As it is almost a requirement at the school to know the lyrics, the fans sing along in celebration of the Mountaineer victory.
Oklahoma State is so rich with traditions it has two on the list. We start with the “Waving Song.” Victor Herbert brought the song back to the university when it was Oklahoma A&M. Speech instructor H.G. Seldy Seldombridge took the tune to “In Old New York,” and rewrote the lyrics to fit Oklahoma. Since then, the song is played after touchdowns while fans stand and wave one arm along with the beat.
At Kansas State, the song “Wabash Cannonball” plays an integral part in KSU’s game-day traditions. After Nichols Gym burned down in 1968 destroying all of the band’s sheet music, they only had one song readily available, “Wabash Cannonball.” To the Wildcat faithful, the song represents survival of the underdog and it usually incites much rocking and swaying by the crowd.
An interesting note about the song, it is also played by the Texas Longhorn’s marching band at the start of every fourth quarter, but it doesn’t have the same lore as it does at KSU.
Speaking of Texas, they are famous for a few traditions. Most noted the “Hook ‘em Horns,” sign, which is made by extending the pinkie and forefingers outward to resemble a longhorn’s horns. (Later turned upside down by OU fans to resemble down with the horns.) It was first used in 1955 during a pep rally. Cheerleader Harley Clark taught the crowd how to do the symbol and watched it catch fire. It is still one of the most recognized hand symbols in all of college sports.
There might be more to run through, but these are some of the most respected. And we haven’t even covered the animate side of the argument.
Sticking with Texas, the Longhorns have a famous mascot named Bevo. Bevo is itself a longhorn and has been a staple at games since 1966, but the beginning of Bevo started many years before that. In 1916 Stephen Pinckney, a UT alumnus, purchased a burnt orange longhorn steer for $124 and brought it to the Thanksgiving Day Texas and A&M College of Texas football game. Since then there have been 14 different Bevo’s, all loved as much as the first. How it got its name is a different, but still fascinating story.
The aforementioned Sooner Schooner is the mascot of Oklahoma. Seen after every Sooner score, the Schooner races onto the field and arcs at the 50-yard line before returning back to its tunnel from where it came. The Schooner has been around since 1964 when it made its first appearance. The Schooner is named after the traditional schooners that brought the settlers into the territory during the Land Run of 1889.
Two more mascots make the list for best tradition. Texas tech’s Masked Rider has been a part of Texas Tech tradition since 1954. Tech was in need of a mascot for that seasons’ Gator Bowl. Head coach DeWitt Weaver called for a mascot hoping it would better his team’s chances at joining the Southwest Conference. The Masked Rider tradition continues this year celebrating its 60th anniversary with the 53rd rider atop the horse.
As promised Oklahoma State makes its second appearance on the list with mascot Pistol Pete. Pistol Pete was first created in 1923, modeled after Frank Eaton. Eaton was leading the Armistice Day Parade when he was approached and asked to be the model for the new mascot. In 1958 the Pistol Pete as we know him debuted. The first head was made out of paper maché.
To judge in an unbiased manner is difficult, but it has to be done.
“Take Me Home, Country Roads,” is the best inanimate tradition. It’s difficult to listen to that song outside of a packed football stadium and not get chills. Hearing it sung by tens of thousands of loyal fans in Mountaineer nation has to be electrifying.
As for animate traditions, the choice is much harder. Each one has a fantastic story behind it, which helps the lore surrounding it. I ride and die with the Sooners, but Pistol Pete and Bevo might top the Sooner Schooner.
I’ll leave it up to you dear reader to decide. Let us know what you think is the best. Post your comments below or find me on twitter @Stevepipps.