Top 10 Best College Football Entrances
10. Notre Dame
It’s finally here! College football is ready to retake the field, starting on Thursday. To look forward to the occasion, we count down the Top 10 Best College Football Entrances.
While Notre Dame’s heyday is at least 20 years gone and might never come back, the phrase “Play Like a Champion Today” still resonates across college football. It feels like it’s been part of Notre Dame forever, yet it didn’t start until Lou Holtz introduced it in 1986.
Kudos to the Irish for keeping this tradition old-school. The same simple sign remains above the cramped steps leading into the tunnel of Notre Dame Stadium, each player touching it on the way down. Nothing flashy, nothing complicated.
Unlike one of the Irish’s recent, horrifying attempts to modernize.
And running out to the “Victory March” will never get old, no matter how rare key victories have become in South Bend.
Birds of prey are the best. As are live mascots. What Auburn has is a two-for-one special.
Without fail, before Auburn takes the field before each home game, an eagle is released and makes a swooping pass around Jordan-Hare Stadium. (Think of it as the coolest wave ever.) And right as the crowd — by then worked up into a frenzy — is putting the finishing touches on its “War Eagle!” battle cry, the bird lands right at midfield.
Although Auburn kept a live War Eagle mascot as early as the 1890s, the pre-game flight has only been a tradition since the 2000 football season. Like a fine wine, this will only get better with age.
2012 marks the 45th anniversary since Colorado’s mascot started leading the “other” Buffaloes out onto the field. (For the record it’s been 46 years since students discovered that Ralphie was, in fact, a she. The name comes from the noise the first Ralphie made while running.)
These days the gridiron Buffaloes are a Pac-12 afterthought, but when they were competing for Big 12 and national titles, Folsom Field used to rock at the sight of Ralphie. If Jon Embree leads a turnaround in Boulder, it could happen again.
We also love the chance that Ralphie might always break loose of her handlers.
7. Florida State
The NCAA has forced most schools to do away with Native American nicknames for politically correct reasons. Florida State, whose mascot is officially sanctioned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, is an exception we’re very happy about.
FSU also asked the tribe for permission in the 1970s to start their football games in grand fashion: With a costumed Chief Osceola riding an appaloosa horse named Renegade to midfield and hurling a burning spear upon arrival.
It sounds like every element of a bad-ass metal video. Except it’s real.
6. Miami (FL)
Imitation is the best form of flattery. And scores of pro, college and high school teams over the year have flattered the Hurricanes, the originators of “The Smoke” entrance.
At nearly 60 years old, this is the oldest entrance on this list. Ironic considering how (for a time anyway) Miami was the epitome of cool and style in college football. Back in the day when the Canes were loaded with scary collections of talent, seeing them emerge from the ether was truly terrifying.
What makes the “Running Through the ‘T’” tradition really work is the sheer number of people who cheer it for each Vols home game. At 102,455 seats, Neyland Stadium is the biggest home stadium for any team on this list.
The anticipation starts building when Tennessee’s massive (350 members for the upcoming season) Pride of the Southland Band starts marching into formation near the home locker room. When all the members march backward to form a massive “T,” the Vols players pour out almost instantaneously.
It’s like watching an assembly line from an old-fashioned Ford plant.
4. South Carolina
The late “Man in Black,” former Gamecocks head coach Joe Morrison, was known for his “Fire Ant” defense and for leading South Carolina to several Top 20 finishes in his six seasons at the helm. But it was his idea for a pregame entrance that lives on in Columbia.
There is something so epic about playing the almost universally known “Also sprach Zarathustra” — better known as the theme song for 2001: A Space Odyssey — for a crowd of 80,000. Considering the religious regard fans have for their college football teams, the reverent tune is an appropriate choice.
What was once used as a doorstop by former Clemson head coach Frank Howard became an unintentional but now treasured motivational tactic.
Howard’s Rock was unveiled above the east end zone before a 1966 game in which Clemson rallied from 18 points down to defeat Virginia, 40–35. The next season Howard started telling his players, “If you’re going to give me 110 percent, you can rub that rock. If you’re not, keep your filthy hands off of it.”
How highly does Clemson regard the rock these days? Campus ROTC officers now protect it for the 24 hours prior to the in-state battle with South Carolina. Watching the Tiger players collect around it before kickoff and then sprint down the hill leading to the field is a thing of beauty.
We acknowledge that “Sirius” by the Alan Parsons Project was first used as pregame music by the early-1990s Chicago Bulls. But the Cornhuskers really make it work, too. (The Huskers started it in 1994 after MJ retired for the first time, perhaps thinking that the Bulls would have no more use for it.)
Nebraska’s use of the JumboTron to give its rabid fans a pregame peek at their heroes is a nice touch, too. As is the old school gesture of the players’ touching a lucky horseshoe before taking the field. The build-up to the players hitting the field at Memorial Stadium makes your hair stand up on your neck and has the feel of a boxer walking to the ring for a prize fight.
[Warning: Possible NSFW language]
1. Virginia Tech
For all the great pregame entrances in college football, the Hokies’ has become almost universally recognized as the best. Bleacher Report, RealClearSports, you name it. They all agree that there’s something about the opening bass riff to “Enter Sandman” that makes you want to run through a brick wall.
When the Hokie faithful start jumping up and down to Metallica, it certainly feels like there’s more than the Lane Stadium capacity of 66,233. And how disheartening must it be if you’re an opponent and you see the fans doing that in the fourth quarter?
ACC opponents must hate Metallica by now.