Thursday, November 20, 2008

Two modest proposals: rivalry game name and school cheer

Several new traditions have been created during Coach Bobby Johnson's tenure, including the reinvigoration of the Star Walk, the addition of the Golden Anchor, and the Commodore Creed.
One of my favorite things about Vanderbilt football is that despite long years of ignominy, the fans and traditions around our program have stayed largely intact. We still blow the foghorn, we still sing our eighty-six year old fight song, and the great history of our beloved program remains fresh in the minds of many of the Vanderfaithful.

At the same time, we do lack, somewhat, in some of the more typical traditions found amongst our SEC brethren. For example, our biggest rivalry game -- with our most hated, in-state enemy -- lacks even a nickname, let alone a trophy or logo.

Neither do we have a "nonsense words" cheer like our SEC foes Ole Miss (Hotty Toddy), Alabama (Rammer Jammer), and Auburn (Wegle, wegle).

I propose that we fix those two errors. And, to get the conversation started, I've spent a little brain capital coming up with two (very) modest proposals.

RIVALRY GAME

If Vanderbilt and Tennessee agreed to a name and trophy, they would be following in the footsteps of LSU and Ole Miss, who decided on "Magnolia Bowl" as the name for their annual match-up this year.
I propose that the annual Tennessee-Vanderbilt game, begun in 1892 and played annually almost every year thereafter, be christened the "Old Hickory Classic."

The name "Old Hickory" was the nickname of arguably Tennessee's greatest son, Andrew Jackson, the Seventh President of the United States. I believe that the nickname works on several levels for the UT-VU game.

For the orange side, Jackson was a prominent Tennessean whose leadership in the War of 1812 helped bring to the State its nickname, "the Volunteer State" -- the very label upon which Tennessee's athletics teams' nickname is based.

For the gold side, Jackson was a stout mid-stater, and he made his home near Nashville (as evidenced by the scores of places, streets, and business named "Old Hickory" in and around Music City).

The trophy could be some statue of Jackson, or it could be based upon the tree itself.

An alternative nickname could be "Big Bend Brawl," in honor of one of Tennessee's other state nicknames, "The Big Bend State."

NONSENSE WORDS CHEER

Before I present my idea for a Vanderbilt nonsense words cheer, I believe that a review of our conference brethren is appropriate.

This is how much "Hotty Toddy" has entrenched itself in the minds of Mississippians.
The quintessential nonsense-words cheer is, of course, "Hotty Toddy" at Ole Miss (the cheer is so ubiquitous there that the public restroom facilities at The Grove are signed "Hotty Toddy Potties" -- I'm not making that up).

Here are the words to "Hotty Toddy":

LEADER:
Are you ready?

RESPONSE:
Hell yes!
Damn right!
Hotty Toddy, Gosh almighty,
who the hell are we? (hey!)
Flim fam, bim bam,
Ole Miss, by damn!


The cheer works well because it is simple, has a catchy rhythm, and is relatively short. It also works well because it is led by a person, instead of by a band (which, as we'll see below, makes it easier and more enjoyable for fans -- while also allowing the cheer to be used at sporting venues where a band is not present; e.g., a baseball game).

Less well-known than Hotty Toddy, but equally as original (in my opinion) is Auburn's nonsense cheer, "Wegle, wegle" (which is also called "Bodygetta"). Here are the words:

Body-get-a, body-get-a
Body-get-a, bah
Rah, rah, rah
Sis, boom bah
Weagle, weagle
War Damn Eagle!
Kick 'em in the butt Big Blue
Hey!


Again, this cheer is short, which is a plus for a large group cheer. In my opinion, however, this cheer is not as effective as Ole Miss' because it is so hard to remember. In my three years in Alabama, most of the Auburn fans I ran into didn't know the words up until the "weagle, weagle" part.

Also, in my experiences at Jordan-Hare Stadium, it always seemed that people didn't know the cheer was going until the "sis boom bah" part of the cheer.

One of the reasons the cheer works is that the fans don't have to learn too much new stuff: almost half of it is based around the popular and easy-to-enjoy "War Eagle" battle cry that is so rich in tradition for Auburn.

Our final SEC nonsense word cheer to examine is Alabama's "Rammer Jammer." It is my least favorite because it involves the popular "Hey Song" that is played at every athletics event in the United States from middle school on up.

The cheer goes as follows:

BAND:
[Plays the Hey Song]

RESPONSE:
Hey Vols!

BAND:
[Plays the Hey Song]

RESPONSE:
Hey Vols!

BAND:
[Plays Hey Song]

RESPONSE:
Hey Vols!
We just beat the hell out of you!
Rammer jammer, Yellowhammer,
Give 'em hell, Alabama!


The cheer can be incredibly intimidating (much more so than the other two we've examined here), and perhaps that's because it's much more angry than the other two. Here, we're hating on a rival, in the other two, we're showing general school spirit.

At the same time, the cheer incorporates something unique to Alabama -- it's being the Yellowhammer State (based upon its state bird, the Yellowhammer).

Except for the "Who ya with" cheer tacked on to the end, my proposed "Sack-a-fella" cheer would make most Commodore fans feel right at home, even those at the opening of Dudley Field in 1922, seen here.
My proposal for a Vanderbilt cheer combines elements from all three. It does not involve a band, but it does incorporate Vanderbilt traditions and uniqueness; it also involves the call-and-response format used successfully in "Hotty Toddy":

LEADER:
What do you see?

RESPONSE:
Belllllllle Meade,
Ooooooooooo hell!
Take off your firs,
stand up and yell!
Sack-a-fella, sack-a-fella,
Go and tell
all the orange rednecks
to go to hell!

[or, when not playing Yew Tee]

LEADER:
What do you see?

RESPONSE:
Belllllllle Meade,
Ooooooooooo hell!
Take off your firs,
stand up and yell!
Sack-a-fella, sack-a-fella,
trim the sail,
forward Commodores,
conquer and prevail!


In analysis, we invoke our naval mascot, and reinforce the nautical nature of the mascot (that is sometimes obscured to our own fans and certainly to our opponents).

We then incorporate elements of the 1940s Vanderbilt cheer used at Dudley Field, "Belle Meade, O Hell: take off your firs, stand up and yell!" We add football-relevant nonsense words (football-related, since most cheers of this nature, while used at non-football events, usually began at football games), and then poke a little fun at our rivals, using words that reinforce the importance of the rivalry.

Finally, as Auburn does, we conclude with a short, well-known, and popular refrain that people won't have to learn extensively (used in our current third down cheer).

So what do you think? Should we have a game name? What about a school cheer?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As an alum, this would be pretty damn awesome!