Let’s be real. If you were in the stands for USF/C. this year, you couldn’t help but be impressed with some of the tradition that the Knights had going on. I know I was, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. USF has the makings of a few of these already started, but it needs to be refined. While the season is winding down, now might be a good time to start figuring out how to give USF games the tradition they deserve to have.
First and foremost: consistency. USF has no consistency year in and year out on any small tradition. Once you start something, you need to do it every situation and stay the course for several years. That’s how you start tradition, not try all the things and see what sticks off the bat. Like the Lightning goal horn after a touchdown, or Swag Surf. That’s a good start. We’ve stuck with it for a few years and Swag Surf can become one of the best 4th quarter traditions in college football if given the time to grow past the student section. Just stay. The. Course. (But please get a better cut of the song. There’s an AWFUL jump halfway through that throws the crowd off the beat.)
With that thought in mind...
Things USF has that needs to be refined
First Down Cheer: This is a big one for me.
I’m not sure who’s going rogue, the PA announcer or the band, but someone needs to step aside. So many times, the band is playing the first down cheer while the PA announcer is announcing “that’s good for another USF...” Get it figured out. Someone needs to shut up, because they’re running each other over and killing the vibe. If they deem the PA announcer more important, then have the band stop.
If the band is more important, then the first down cheer needs to be shortened. In the age of faster offenses and hurry up play, three cadences is too much. Let me harp on about my beloved Northwestern for a minute, but their first down cheer is one cadence followed by a “Go ‘Cats!” The USF first down cheer can easily be shortened to the last cadence and a “Go Bulls.” Then, the QB isn’t at the line motioning at the band to SHUT UP WE’RE ON OFFENSE YOU FOOLS.
PA or shortened band cadence. One or the other, and stick with it.
Pre-kickoff: There’s been so many different things tried, it’s hard to keep track. Slow Swag Surf-like song, slow claps, all the things. But let me suggest something to bring back.
My freshman year (2013), the students could bang on their chairs before kickoff, creating a solid rumble. Almost like a herd of bulls in the stands. That tradition died later in that season as people stopped showing up, but next season would be a good time to bring it back. Have the whole crowd stand and bang on the back of the chair in front of them before kickoffs. Make a graphic and throw it up on the screen. It could be thunderous if the whole stadium is involved.
Alma Mater: PLAY THE ALMA MATER AS SOON AS THE PLAYERS COME OVER TO THE STUDENTS. STOP PLAYING THE FIGHT SONG. None of the freshman have sung the Alma Mater with the team because the bands insists on playing all of our songs first, and the team loses patience and leaves. We’ve heard the fight song enough throughout the game, we don’t need it again. When the team is gathered, just play the Alma Mater. The students want it. The team seems to want it. Why did this ever get changed? Bad change to the end of the game.
While I’m on this soapbox, the band NEEDS to coordinate with athletics to time songs and cheers. It’ll add so much to the game to be on the same page. It feels like they go rogue halfway through the game, and suddenly the students are fighting the band to do cheers. Playing between random downs is killing the noise in the stadium because the rest of the student section shuts up to listen to the band on defense, and the offense needs to communicate with the sideline. Empty space is allowed, not every second needs to be filled with music.
Bulls On Parade: This should have never gone away after 2016. Bring it back, it should be to us what Enter Sandman is to Virginia Tech or Jump Around is to Wisconsin.
Things USF Should Start
Defensive Third Downs: Ignoring the situations they use it, UCF has Zombienation. It’s not the most original thing ever, but they own it like it is, and that makes it a thing.
So the USF students responded Friday night in Orlando with Seven Nation Army after every third down stop, and I’ll be damned if they weren’t shaking the north east corner of the stadium late in the game. Even the C. students were taking notice. My only regret was not getting my phone out in time to get a video of it.
Take this and run with it. No, it’s not new. No, it’s not original. But the right push from athletics could make it a stadium-shaking tradition. Just (and this is key) don’t give up on it when students stop doing it when USF is up 42-14. It’s for that key third down stop when USF leads 21-20 late in the 4th.
Get 3 songs for pre-snap, and just use those to hype the crowd. Seven Nation Army after the stop, and watch the student section bounce.
Banners: Some students helped create some hand-painted banners early in the season, and it was a cool thing. Then C. showed us up with a massive “Welcome to the Knightmare” tarp that they unrolled after every touchdown. USF students tried, but athletics needs to give them some help. That was a very cool thing that C. had that I personally would like to also have.
OR encourage students to hang banners off the front railing. That’d be an extremely unique twist to the student section that would make it stand out from the rest of the nation. Maybe it’s the European soccer fan in me, but just think about it for a minute. Personal banners from the students to the team, different every game. Maybe even a full message across the entire north endzone. I don’t think anyone could deny that it wouldn’t be truly unique in college football.
Am I ripping off a few things I saw C. have that I wish USF had? Yea, probably (okay, definitely). But one of the biggest complaints I’ve seen about USF games is the lack of tradition. You gotta start somewhere, and the small things can make a world of difference if done correctly.