Although it this one of Orson's was originally posted on June 4, 2005 it is still fresh enough to earn Orson vacation rerun status. Don't worry, we'll limit the re-runs to one per day.
As Fred Berry can attest, too much rerun can kill you.
Welcome to the second chapter of the art and science of Pepidemiology, focusing on supplemental music and cheers First, a moment to define what we mean by each term for the layperson:
--Supplemental music: Music played by a band or from the booth assisting in the creation of an atmosphere beneficial to the home team NOT including their designated fight song. Examples include USC's "Tribute to Troy," the playing of the "Imperial March" at Miami, and "Hold That Tiger," played by the Clemson, LSU, Missouri, and Princeton bands for their team.
--Cheers: anything chanted in unison to enhance pro-home team vibe or anti-visiting team attitude. Examples include just about anything Texas A&M does with their Yell Captains, the Seminole war chant, and "Go Blue" at Michigan.
Yes, he's just a white guy with war paint on, but he's got a hell of theme song.
Part one: Supplemental Music.
Long ago in the mists of time, almost all college bands realized they needed more than one tune to keep the pep up. The sole band to avoid making this conclusion is the University of Tennessee's, who plays "Rocky Top" at least thirty times a game in hopes of driving the opposition's key players to suicide in the middle of the third quarter. (A ploy which actually succeeded in 1937, when brilliant but manic depressive Vanderbilt flanker Mert "Rickets" Hoffstadter scored a 2 yard td, ran out of the open end of Neyland Stadium through a throng of Tennessee fans, and dove into the cold waters of the Tennessee river with the only ball, ending both his life and the rivalry game.
Scoring against Notre Dame, the gifted but tragic Mert "Rickets" Hoffstadter.
The choices of supplemental music can vary wildly, depending on the regional preferences and whims of the band director. The Trojans at USC rely not only on the imperious "Tribute to Troy," the heavy, plodding death march accompanied with much flashing of fingers, but also play fan favorite "Tusk" by Fleetwood Mac, chosen largely because the Trojans played the horn and drum bits on the original, and because Fleetwood Mac compensated the university by donating Stevie Nicks as payment for their services. (This puts them in a tie for second with the Southwest DeKalb County High School Band for coolest marching band ever, since SwD did the fab dance moves you see in the immortal Drumline. Number one? Until they're destroyed by a meteor or something catastrophic like that. The Florida A and M Rattlers Marching Band.)
The USC Marching Trojans: Stevie Nicks did 'em all.
Regionality matters, too. The Dixieland Jazz of the south shows up in the "Tiger Rag," alternately known as "Hold That Tiger," a rip-roaring tune that just sounds like sweaty men in linen drinking bathtub gin and playing faro on a riverboat. The tune is so popular four schools with Tiger nicknames play it with regularity: Clemson, LSU, Missouri, and Princeton. Iowa oompa-loomps through polka classic "In Heaven There Is No Beer" regularly, a tribute to the Central European heritage of many in the area; ditto for Wisconsin's playing of "Roll out the Barrel." All Texas bands play some variation of a Texas themed song, though UT-Austin takes the cake in the eyes of this scholar with "Deep in the Heart of Texas." And if you're feeling a little punky, you can always go to the cradle of American punk music, L.A., for the UCLA band's hilarious version of the Offspring's "Come Out and Play."
The final factors influencing the choice of supplemental music are team name and attitude. The Miami Hurricanes used the recording of "The Imperial March" to mark huge plays by their vaunted defenses of the '80s and '90s. In similar fashion, but with different results, South Carolina traditionally enters to the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey, aka Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss. For a brief time in the late '90s, the Florida band would play the bass riff from Trick Daddy's "Shut Up" for the more thug-inclined players on Florida's defense. Some teams opt for less-than-creative but nonetheless effective choices based on the name: Auburn's choice of "Eye of the Tiger," Duke's "Devil With a Blue Dress," or Virginia Tech's woozy take on the "Hokie Pokie."
Part Two: Cheers
Cheers are, for undetermined reasons, a dying tradition across the board for American sport. In contrast to the vigorous group cheers of European soccer-including the immortal "Posh takes it up the ass!" line coined by Arsenal fans taunting then Man-U striker David Beckham- American cheers are relatively far and few between. However, there are a few that merit real mention as thriving traditions.
Did Arsenal fans insult or compliment Beckham? We're not sure.
The most common variety of collegiate cheer is the simple half-and-half chant. This involves dividing stadiums in half and having each chant one word, a la Michigan's "Go Blue". We find these relatively uninteresting due to their commonality among nearly every major college program and for their seeming lack of impact on pep. They often function as the default cheer for aimless crowds waiting for something to happen in the game, hopefully prompting better cheers or a song from the band.
Then there are individual chants, more interesting by leagues in that they elicit mass participation, generate excitement, and do both while making little to no actual sense. The pinnacle of this type of cheer is "Rammer Jammer," the traditional Alabama cheer which goes like this:
Give 'em hell, Alabama
It all rhymes with the right accent, which most fans can easily acquire with three drinks and a little group intimidation. Another excellent example of the nonsensical but wildly successful cheer can be found next door at Ole Miss with "Hotty Toddy":
Are you ready? Hell yes! Damn Right!
Hotty Toddy, Gosh almighty
Who in the hell are we - Hey
Flim Flam, Bim Bam
Ole Miss By Damn!
Again, the lyrics are absolute gibberish, but nonetheless seem to make people very, very excited.None get so excited, however, as the unparalleled champs of the cheer, the 12th man at Texas A&M, led by the Yell Captains. Unrivalled in organization and execution, the A&M student section cheers with military precision and intensity, complete with huge student practices, hand signals, and side-to-side motions so intense they shake the pressbox, according to sportswriters. One particularly blunt selection from the Aggie catalog sums up the attitude and approach of their fans:
Farmers, farmers fight!
Aggie fans, riled up by the Yell Captains, make their annual attempt to pull down Darrell Royal stadium in Austin.
The most effective of these, however, must be Florida State's war chant, which doubles as both a group cheer and supplemental music. The chant can last for minutes, and even in between plays can be kept to a low boil with a steady pounding of the drums. With a chopping hand gesture and a simple, lyric-free refrain, the Seminole war chant is undoubtedly the scariest, most intimidating, and frighteningly catchy chant around. With FSU's 500-plus Marching Chiefs Band behind it, the resulting din can make opposing fans start to reach for the bourbon and pills before halftime.
Anyone who attended the "Choke at Doak" understands the maniacal power of the Seminole War Chant.