Games go on, but many tra­di­tions on hold in col­lege foot­ball for now

Cecil Whig - - OURCECIL - By ERIC OLSON

AP Col­lege Foot­ball Writer

To the de­light of fans young and old, an English bull­dog named Uga has been sta­tioned on the side­line at all but one Ge­or­gia home foot­ball game since 1956.

Charles Seiler, whose fam­ily has bred and cared for each of the Ugas all th­ese years, said lots of peo­ple have told him they en­joy see­ing the dog, adorned in his jersey with the big “G” on front, as much as the games them­selves. Thou­sands of fans have their pic­tures taken with him.

“He’s so ap­proach­able,” Seiler said. “But in this day and age, be­cause of what’s go­ing on, it’s not good to ap­proach.”

Uga X won’t be on hand for any games this sea­son un­less the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence changes its pol­icy not al­low­ing live mas­cots as part of its coro­n­avirus pre­cau­tions.

Many other beloved tra­di­tions, some dat­ing to the 19th cen­tury, also are on hold or tak­ing dif­fer­ent forms this year be­cause of the pan­demic. The Grove at Mis­sis­sippi is closed. War Ea­gle flights are grounded at Auburn. Fans won’t “Gather at the Paw” af­ter games at Clem­son.

Th­ese tra­di­tions and oth­ers are ex­tremely mean­ing­ful, es­pe­cially in the South, said An­drew McIl­waine Bell, who wrote the 2020 book “The Ori­gins of South­ern Col­lege Foot­ball: How an Ivy League Game Be­came a Dixie Tra­di­tion.”

“They cre­ate com­mu­nity and give peo­ple from dif­fer­ent walks of life an aware­ness of their shared his­tory and cul­ture,” Bell said in an email to The As­so­ci­ated Press. “For many of us, game day rit­u­als also bring to mind gen­er­a­tions past, in­clud­ing de­parted friends and rel­a­tives who shared our love of col­lege foot­ball and would en­joy see­ing a mod­ern game if they could some­how be here with us again.”

Some tra­di­tions will go on: The Ram­blin’ Wreck (1930 Ford Model A) still leads

Ge­or­gia Tech onto the field, Clem­son play­ers still touch Howard’s Rock be­fore run­ning down the hill. The Sooner Schooner is rolling along at Ok­la­homa.

Ge­or­gia, which opens at Arkansas on Saturday, plays its first home game Oct. 3 against Auburn and will al­low about 16,000 fans in­side San­ford Sta­dium. Uga, which stands for “Uni­ver­sity of Ge­or­gia,” will spend that day and other game days with Seiler and his fam­ily in Sa­van­nah, Ge­or­gia.

“We’ll have the game on, we’ll put his jersey on, and he’ll be able to lis­ten to it,” Seiler said. “I have a feel­ing the net­works are go­ing to run out of stuff to show, so I wouldn’t be sur­prised if they don’t tr y to catch me on a Zoom or maybe a video of him on game day sit­ting at the house.”

The only time Seiler can re­call an Uga miss­ing a home game was in 2009. Uga VII had died two days be­fore the game, and Uga VIII wasn’t in place un­til the fol­low­ing week.

Diane Roberts, author of the 2015 book “Tribal: Col­lege Foot­ball and the Se­cret Heart of Amer­ica,” said col­lege foot­ball “or­ga­nizes our iden­tity for us” and fans had hoped the sea­son would go ahead so “none of our sa­cred rit­u­als would be lost.”

“That would mean that things were ‘nor­mal,’ and that the ‘rona was not the boss of us,” Roberts said in an email. “Un­for­tu­nately, the ‘rona is the boss of us.”

Other tra­di­tions that won’t be the same this sea­son:

MIS­SIS­SIPPI’S

GROVE

The Grove has been the place to be for pregame so­cial­iz­ing since the 1950s and is fa­mous for stu­dents and older fans dress­ing to the nines: men in slacks, coats and ties and women in sun­dresses or cock­tail dresses.

TIGER WALKS

Auburn’s walk down Don­ahue Drive has been a tra­di­tion since the 1960s. LSU’s team and coaches — in­clud­ing an ebul­lient coach Ed Org­eron — walk down “Vic­tory Hill,” a pro­ces­sion that also in­volves the band.

MID­NIGHT YELL

Texas A&M’s Mid­night Yell prac­tices have moved on­line. A tra­di­tion that dates to 1931, Mid­night Yell is held at Kyle Field be­fore home games and is at­tended by thou­sands of fans. Smaller ver­sions are also held near the site of away games.

GATH­ER­ING AT THE

PAW

Clem­son fans head to the field shortly af­ter the game and join play­ers and coaches for au­to­graphs and pho­tos while the band plays the alma mater.

JUMP AROUND

With no fans in Big Ten sta­di­ums, there’ll be no bounc­ing up and down be­tween the third and fourth quar­ters at Camp Ran­dall Sta­dium in Wis­con­sin dur­ing the song “Jump Around” by House of Pain.

HORSING AROUND

The white horse named Trav­eler, whose rider is dressed as a Tro­jan war­rior, has ap­peared at South­ern Cal­i­for­nia home games since 1961. He’ll stay in the sta­ble this year un­less the Pac-12 de­cides to play.

At Florida State, the Ap­paloosa horse Rene­gade and the rider por­tray­ing Chief Osce­ola will still dash to mid­field be­fore each home game to spike a flam­ing spear into the turf. They aren’t al­lowed to re­main on the side­line, as is cus­tom.

HOLD THE BEEF

Texas’ pregame en­ter­tain­ment zone is closed, so there is no pa­rade of cheer­lead­ers, the band and Bevo into the sta­dium. The beloved 1,800-pound longhorn still hangs out in the end zone, but no photo op­por­tu­ni­ties. Still, “when you are as big as Bevo, so­cial dis­tanc­ing pretty much takes care of it­self,” said Ricky Brennes of the spon­sor­ing Sil­ver Spurs Alumni As­so­ci­a­tion.

At Colorado, Ral­phie VI’s de­but is on hold while the Pac-12 de­cides what to do this fall. Ral­phie V re­tired af­ter last sea­son. This would be the 54th sea­son a live buf­falo has led the team onto the field at the start of games and be­fore the sec­ond half kick­off.

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