BY HEATHER C. WATSON
There’s something different about the SEC. The traditions, the pageantry, the ceremony… they’re something to behold, even if you don’t know the first thing about football. Saturdays at The Grove in Oxford, complete with seersucker, sundresses, and catered spreads, resemble a garden party more than a tailgate. Auburn fans line up to participate in the storied Tiger Walk hours before the game. Florida and Georgia fans celebrate their longstanding rivalry at the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. In Starkville, they ring their cowbells and in Fayetteville they call Pig Sooie. And, here in Lexington, we… Well, to be honest, we don’t really do anything.
Kentucky football has experienced an impressive rise in popularity over the past decade.We’re finally enjoying sell-out crowds, winning records and Bowl appearances. We have legions of committed fans who tailgate, rain or shine. We love our Cats and enjoy our games. But, it’s high time we had a “thing,” like our fellow SEC teams. Kentucky Football fans need to establish some gameday traditions.
When Commandant Corbusier stood in the chapel of the old State University in 1909 and proudly proclaimed that the football team had fought like wildcats, he had no idea that he was branding the university for future generations. It’seven less likely that he realized that a Wildcat, while fierce-sounding, is actually the crowd-shy bobcat. It’s the kind of story that launches a long-standing legend, but which doesn’t necessarily translate to a marketable tradition. As luck would have it, Blue the Wildcat is relegated to a nature preserve in Frankfort, and can’t become a stadium tradition like Uga or the War Eagle. Commonwealth Stadium, like many collegiate stadiums, sits in the middle of a large research campus. However, it is bounded by residential areas, hospitals and major thoroughfares, making it nearly impossible for a gameday walk to take place. Rental housing and ambulances preclude the establishment of a Toomer’s Corner, a Cockaboose Railroad, or a Dreamland Barbecue. If only the recently displaced Tolly-Ho could reopen near the Delta Tau house rather than all the way over on Broadway… Perhaps the easiest tradition to institute would be a chant or battle cry—something along the lines of Yellowhammer or Hotty Toddy. With the combined efforts of the cheerleaders, the student section, and everybody’s Twitter pages, we could establish a Wildcat Chant by season’s end. As we begin Operation Win, the time is right to establish a gameday tradition in Lexington. Today’s students will carry it on as tomorrow’s alumni. We just need an idea.