Have you caught the school spirit? Do you bleed your school’s colors? Whether your college just won its conference or its first game in two years (congrats, Kansas!), school spirit might be overly contagious on your campus. Game day tailgates start at 6 a.m., and if you’re not wearing school colors you’re in for some stares. These 10 schools fill more than just their football stadium. They have fantastical spirit organizations, a roaring band, rowdy mascots and faithful alumni. Prepare for the game day of a lifetime.
Check out the top 10 campuses with school spirit galore.
Can you say your school was the first public institution of higher education west of the Mississippi? Mizzou loves its history so much that they named their mascot, Truman the Tiger, after its first president. And homecoming is the rowdiest week at Mizzou. The school celebrates with an enormous parade and students can participate in one of the largest blood drives on a college campus. Greek life produces hilarious skits and dance performances. From there, the hype builds until the week ends with (hopefully) a big win at Faurot Field. The Marching Mizzou standing 300+ members strong perform their classic “Flip Tigers” drill at every football game as a testament to their striped mascot. “At any given point I could yell out ‘M-I-Z’ and I know someone would yell back ‘Z-O-U,’ and I love that,” said freshman Nicole Morse. All year long, students represent the black and gold.
9. Michigan State University
Yes, the Spartans have the sixth largest football stadium in the Big 10, but that’s only the beginning. In a sea of green you’ll find the infamous mascot Sparty who loves to show off his one-handed pushups and sit on cheerleaders’ shoulders. “The atmosphere before any game is pure excitement and it can be felt throughout all of East Lansing,” said sophomore Nick Kerastas. Zeke the Wonder Dog really sets them apart. Cheerleaders exist at nearly every school, but does every school feature a loyal companion fetching Frisbees during the third quarter? No, they don’t. “His skills are astonishing… for a dog. He can leap feet into the air and snag any Frisbee thrown his way,” Kerastas said. Don’t ditch the game before half time or you’ll miss Zeke’s half time performance.
8. University of Louisville
The Cards score points for making homecoming about more than just face paint and tailgates. The UofL Day of Giving Campaign encourages students, alumni and the surrounding community to “Raise some L” by raising as much money as possible in 24 hours. Greek life dresses in set themes all week, but that’s not even the best part of this event. College kids on that broke budget will find free food everywhere, plus they can attend a free concert on Cardinal Boulevard at the end of the week. Their nationally ranked cheer and dance teams don’t hurt either. Just hear it from senior Lauren Kappel: “On game days, there’s red and black everywhere. Everyone is repping, it’s great.”
Without a physical mascot (What is a Hoosier anyway?), Indiana University leaves its cream and crimson open for interpretation by the students. That doesn’t stop them from showing off their pride on game day. From the Cream and Crimson cheer squads to the Marching Hundred (actually more like 200) and the Redsteppers, the Hoosiers go all out with their school spirit. “While every group is different, the one thing each group embodies is tradition,” said graduate student Liza Bartlett. “From the excellence of the cheer team to the sound of the Marching Hundred, you can’t help but get into the school spirit set by these groups.” Want to blend in? Make sure you don’t confuse the fists and blades.
6. University of Kansas
Don’t get it twisted—you may think you’re in a field of wheat but you’re actually at a University of Kansas game. The Jayhawks love to “wave the wheat” to show off their school pride. If you’re curious about Big Jay and Baby Jay, their beloved, albeit beaky, mascots, just know student Amy Sue Hurst hatched Baby Jay in the middle of the 1971 homecoming game. “Our rock chalk chant is so mysterious and awesome that you can’t help yourself from getting super excited,” said freshman Marching Jayhawks member Madeline Petersen. Also keep an eye out for the “Sunflower Song” performed by the Marching Jayhawks and the Rock Chalk Dancers. Spoiler alert: The band forms a giant sunflower on the field.
5. Stanford University
School spirit and traditions take an interesting turn at Stanford. The Cardinal—the color, not the bird—officially represents the team. But the role of mascot remains proudly (and unofficially) represented by a tree. The Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band creates a new tree each year. “The Tree started as a joke in the 1970s…and it’s still a joke today,” said Stanford Tree ’16-’17 Sam Weyen. “Hobbies include creating my own costume, spinning around in circles and breaking things.” The Dollies join the Tree in ornery antics. “As extensions of the band, the Dollies and the Tree embody Stanford’s ‘work hard, play hard’ attitude,” said the Stanford Dollies. “We love the band’s infectious energy. It’s incredible being on the sidelines acting as zany as we want.”
For the Flyers school pride comes without question. “One of the hashtags that usually trends here during basketball season is #ProUD,” said senior Matt Mackowiak. “I think that says it all. We hang sheet signs from our porches that have sayings on them that show how happy we are to be a part of this community.” The ever-present Red Scare, the largest student organization at UD, solely dedicates itself to showing up to games and coordinating chants and cheers. The Red Scare helps unite the student body to boost the team’s morale, showing this campus is as tight-knit and spirited as it gets.
3. University of Alabama
Let’s face it. The phrase “Roll Tide” somehow achieves familiarity whether or not you follow the Southeastern Conference. In Alabama, football reigns supreme with the second highest game attendance in their conference. Students can feel the intense energy from the start of the tailgate to the last seconds of the game. “[You’re] either going to experience the highest highs or the lowest lows. I would walk out of my dorm and hear the Million Dollar Band on the quad and roars coming from all the tailgates for hours before the game even started,” said alumna Erin Thompson. If that doesn’t get you hyped enough, you’ll feel the Crimson Pride watching the Crimson Cabaret, two cheer squads and Big Al perform on game day.
The University of Florida, represented by the romantic pairing of two alligators, Albert and Alberta, never fails to rep the orange and blue. With the largest student run pep rally in the nation, the Gator Growl, it comes as no surprise that the Gators rank high in school spirit. Comedians and bands roll into the swamp for Gator Growl, ready to bring on the hype. This enormous pep rally makes the student body, both past and present, really feel that #It’sGreatUF. Barring the humidity, a visit to The Swamp won’t disappoint.
1. The Ohio State University
Any school insistent on adding “The” to the front of their name clearly possesses a healthy amount of school spirit. OSU wants not only the state, but also the entire country to know that it is the school to attend. From the “script Ohio” to “dotting the I”, the Buckeyes take themselves very seriously. “The fact that when you’re on campus it’s like it’s own world and Buckeye land is something that feels amazing to be a part of,” said senior Tess Solazzo.