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Reactions: SI's Life of Reilly

Fans sing the praises of fight songs

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Latest: Monday August 14, 2000 06:38 PM

In his latest column Boola, Boola for the Victors!, Sports Illustrated's Rick Reilly writes about his fondness for college fight songs. Users have quickly chimed in with agreements, disagreements and songs Reilly left out. Here's a sampling of feedback:

I very rarely disagree with you, but Michigan's fight song? If there was ever a more obnoxious song I haven't heard it. It is the only song their band knows how to play, and as you mentioned, only has one verse. They play it after every first down, touchdown, complete pass, succesful snap, field goal, fumble and every time the peanut vendor spots them and chucks a bag over. They suck! By the way, I am a student at Ohio State.
Mac Lawless, Perrysburg, Ohio

Excuse me, but have you ever been South? I know the Northeast is given credit for just about everything, but surely not the best school fight songs. Of course I am partial to the the University of Texas' fight song, but even I concede that Texas A&M has probably one of the best fight songs anywhere. I also like Tennessee's "Rocky Top." Please try and look further than your own backyard next time.
Kelley Creasey, Austin

You cannot possibly like the Tennessee fight song, "Rocky Top," can you? If you've ever sat at a Vols game and rooted for the other team, and then had to listen to that song after everyone of Tennesse's eight or nine touchdowns, I guarantee you that you will want to committ Hari Kari by halftime.
Bob Hebert, New Orleans

I would have to agree with the sentiment that college football is the best thing since slice bread, and that "fight songs" are part of the charm that makes it special. Although many of the examples given were special in one way or another, only one school has its own war hymn -- my alma mater, Texas A&M (one of the few places where the school is prepared to think of football in the proper light). It's war for sure and it's waged by fans all over this country, especially in the waning days of summer. There are people cleaning their living rooms, buying the latest sports magazines, and arguing with their fellow employees at the water cooler over their beloved teams. I, for one, can't wait for the start!
Mike Yun, Houston

In your article about college football fight songs, you mention Kent State, you mention Akron, but how on earth can you neglect Ohio State? Give me a rousing version of the "Buckeye Battle Cry" over any crap from Colorado.
Joe Bauer, Dublin, Ohio

There is no fight song like the four notes that ring out in Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge at around 6:52 on a Saturday Night in Death Valley. The LSU Golden Band from Tigerland drives the crowd into such an amazing frenzy it registers on the Richter Scale. They salute the four corners and amazingly, everyone knows exactly when to stand up and scream like psychos. Nothing beats Saturday Night in Death Valley when you hear DAH! DAH DAH DAH! Have you experienced it, or what?
Joe Hambor, Baton Rouge

As a proud Georgia Tech grad, I have to put in a plug for our fight song. What other school uses the words "hell" and "whiskey" in their song and expresses its true hate for its rival? (In our case, the Georgia Bulldogs) "I'm a ramblin' wreck from Ga Tech and a helluva engineer ... Like all the jolly good fellas, I drink my whiskey clear!" And we do. "If I had a son sir, I'll tell you what he'd do .. He'd yell to HELL with Georgia like his daddy used to do!"
Andrew Bush, Orlando

I was shocked not to see the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band mentioned in your article on college fight songs and bands. The Aggie War Hymn is the best fight song around, and the band marches better than any other college marching band. If one member stepped offbeat when the rows of band members march in opposite directions side by side, at least half of the band would fall. Don't forget about the trumpet players with the flags, the tuba players' turns or the amazing drum majors, either.
Matt Clark, College Station, Texas

I guess I could understand why you don't like Nebraska's fight song, since as a Buffs fan it was a rare occasion when Colorado ever got to play its fight song after scoring against Nebraska, much less actually beating the Cornhuskers. Since I started following the Huskers in the late 1970s, I think I can count the number of Buffalo victories over the Huskers on one hand. In spite of the bash on Nebraska, I really do enjoy your column. (I figure that you eventually get around to bashing everyone pretty equally anyway.) Keep up the good work!
Clara Ohr, Omaha

Shoulder to shoulder we will fight, fight, fight! Rick, I agree, that the Colorado Golden Buffalo fight song is one of the best fight songs in the country, while remaining somewhat unknown. I remember singing it on our porch in Boulder every Saturday morning before the game. I grew up in Denver and I'm a huge Buffs and Broncos fan, and I think it's great that you stick with your roots and continually endorse Colorado sports. Keep it up. I enjoy your work.
Pepper, San Francisco

How could you do an article on college fight songs and not mention USC? Not only does the school have one of the most familiar songs (Fight On!) but actually has three school songs which it plays during sporting events, all of which are easily recognized across the country ("Conquest" and "Tribute to Troy"). In addition, USC's band is perhaps the most accomplished college marching band, with a director who's been there for more than 30 years. Anyway, I still agree with your appreciation for the peripheral aspects of college ball.
Colin, Boulder, Colo.

What about Columbia's fight song? I know our team's history isn't exactly the tradition you're looking for, but "Roar Lion Roar" is a classic, and I get chills up my spine when all 17 of our fans (homeless drunks included) sing it on fall Saturdays.
Kimball Payne, Baltimore

Do you know how much you just absolutely ROCK? I'll never get into CU Boulder, but my family bleeds its school colors. In fact, if we were to root for any team, including the Denver Broncos in a exhibition game, against the Golden Buffaloes from Colorado, my grandfather's ghost would come back and hang us all on the uprights (he was a cheerleader for CU in the '30s). And I love the zings against Nebraska.
James Boyle, Aurora, Colo.

I can't believe you forgot New Mexico State University's fight song, the same song that your magazine called college football's most politically incorrect fight song a few years ago. "...and when we win this game, we'll buy a keg of booze, and drink it to the Aggies, till we wobble in our shoes!"
Greg Watterson, Las Cruces, N.M.

Since the days of Bill McCartney and his anti-Nebraska campaign, CU and its fans (all 15,000 of them), have become nothing more than childish little crybabies. Until CU puts up the numbers and a 30-year record that competes with NU and does it with class, you and your Buffs fans will have nothing better to do than continue to take cheap shots at NU. Having lived in Nebraska for a better part of my life, I understand Midwestern pride and work ethic. That is what Nebraskans are proud of. And that is exemplified in "There is no place like Nebraska." If you really wanted your article to be accurate, "Hail Varsity" is NU's true fight song. Hopefully after NU crushes CU in Lincoln this year, you will write another article about NU. I can read it now: "NU robs CU of fair game as Huskers fans were too loud for Buffs." And that's 80,000 plus Husker fans. Final Score: 42-10.
Janet Love, Colorado Springs

Thank you so much for the piece about college fight songs. I agree with you on your selection of Michigan's as the all time top song! Something about the Big Blue band striking the chords to that song makes me get up and want to perform with the, uh, "cheerleaders" (although I can't completely agree with the "real breasts" part). Raised gung-ho on Uncle Joe and his Nittany Lions, and as an alumnus of West Virginia and personal friend of Don Nehlen, I have heard many a fight song, and there is still nothing that compares to the University of Michigan's.
Dina, Pittsburgh

As a freshman-band member-to-be at the University of Nebraska, I realized I should have been deeply offended by the anti-Cornhusker musings in your column. However, I couldn't keep myself from hysterical laughter. Ridicule and alternate fight song lyrics are what make college football great. You should hear what I've done to the Notre Dame fight song.
Jeff Sheldon, Pawnee City, Neb.

As a former player and alum of the University of Washington, I read with interest your take on college fight songs. I have to agree that these songs are part of what sets the college game apart from the pros. The fight song is but a small part of what binds us to our alma mater, and why our interests in pro sports will wax and wane, while we remain steadfastly devoted to our colleges and universities through thick and thin. I suppose many will write to comment about your missing their school fight song, so I won't let you down and forget to mention mine. But, hey! How can you overlook a fight song that makes reference to a strait in northwestern Turkey that connects the Sea of Marmara with the Aegean? "Our boys are here with bells...their fightin' blood excels. It's harder to push them over the line than past the Dardanelles." Again, I regularly enjoy your take on things we often take for granted. Keep up the good work!
Lane Bailey, Redmond, Wash.

Nice try. The best fight song in all of college does indeed come from a state which starts with the letter C. But it sure as hell is not Colorado. It's the University of California's fight song, floating from Memorial Stadium out over the Bay on a fall afternoon. Beats the hell out of freezing in Boulder.
Frank Greenspan, Berkeley, Calif.


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