Friday, September 4, 2015

Hail to football season starting — and all the weird yells of the Southeastern Conference

             Football starts tomorrow — Saturday, Sept. 5 — throughout the Southeastern Conference, where thousands — and we mean thousands — pack into stadiums and double the sizes of their perspective towns. Thousands more arrive just to tailgate, with the smells of delectable Southern treats emanating everywhere.
            If that’s not weird enough, there’s those crazy collegiate traditions, cheers and superstitions. We’ll looking at a few these coming weeks, but today it’s all about the cheers.
Ole Miss
Want to incite the crowd at Ole Miss games? Simply ask one question. Here’s what you receive in crowd noise when you shout out: “Are you ready?”

Hell yes!
Damn Right!
Hotty Toddy, Gosh almighty
Who the hell are we?
Flim Flam, Bim Bam
Ole Miss, By Damn!

Called the Hotty Toddy, its origins are unclear, but claims it may have started as the “Heighty! Tighty!, which appeared in a Nov. 19, 1926, issue of the student newspaper, The Mississippian:

Heighty! Tighty!
Gosh A Mighty!
Who in the h--l are we?
Rim! Ram! Flim! Flam!
Ole Miss, by D--m

However it came to be, it’s something to see — and instigate. Here’s James Franco egging on the crowd when he was in Mississippi shooting a film. Click here.

            I hail from South Louisiana, where the only place we want to see a hog is over an open fire. In Arkansas, however, there’s one hog who lives in hog heaven. This Russian boar’s name is Tusk and he’s the mascot for the University of Arkansas, otherwise known as the Razorbacks. Tusk III (yes, he’s one in a long line of honored pigs) lives on a farm in Dardanelle, Arkansas, a place that’s so special he gets to roam around a 9,000-square-foot arena when summer gets too hot or in an almost equally spacious outdoor area.
            Tusk does get to travel, however. On game days he’s loaded up in a red truck and brought to Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Arkansas. It’s here that fans love to turn into hogs by cheering what is known as the “Calling of the Hogs.” Fans wiggle their fingers and raise their hands over their heads for about six seconds as they say “Woooo.” They then bring them down as they call out “Pig, Sooie.” You do this three times and on the final cheer call out “Razorbacks.”
            To see this in action, visit here.
Texas A&M
            Texas A&M is one of the most spirited colleges in the SEC, with many colorful traditions. Students say “Howdy” to others they meet, an act encouraged as the official A&M greeting. Many say goodbye in a unique way as well, spouting out “Gig ’em!” This tradition hails back to a 1930 football game against Texas Christian University, known as the Horned Frogs. A&M graduate Pinky Downs wanted to incite a crowd gathered for a midnight yell practice and asked, “What are we going to do to those Horned Frogs?” The answer was “Gig ‘em,” referring to what Southerners do to frogs when hunting them. Downs gave them the thumbs up while holding a fist and this hand gesture became the first of its kind in the Southwest Conference. You can hear the crowds chanting this now during A&M football kickoffs.
            Texas A&M is now a part of the Southeastern Conference.

            By the time football season is over you will know where my loyalty lies — hint, it bleeds purple and gold — which may be why I’m not mentioning that Roll Tide nonsense of Alabama. (Just kidding, I’ll give them airplay too. Maybe.) But we have a lot of cheers that veer toward indecent.
            When I worked at The Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge my coworker hailed from South Carolina and said he was appalled at the first LSU game he attended and heard such “obnoxious behavior,” including one such cheer against Alabama. Are we that bad? Probably, but I laughed and sang it out, adding that the one about Ole Miss wasn’t too nice either.
          I’ll leave you all to ponder those. But check back in the next few weeks as we look at more cheers, jeers and Weird South football traditions. If you know of a few, pass them along.

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