One of the best parts of College Football is how it separates itself from any other sport. The adjective that seems to come to mind, without fail, is the word “Pageantry.” Now, while it’s used quite often, we still find ourselves wondering what does that actually mean? The official definition is a “spectacular display.” Well, if that doesn’t describe College Football then what does? We like to separate ourselves here at Last Word on College Football so we wanted to present our first ever College Football Pageantry Top 25 rankings.
Typically, in the off-season, the waiting game hits us hard. Waiting for Fall. Waiting for the moment when toe meets leather. Part of that waiting also introduces obligatory polls. Why not combine the pageantry of College Football and a Preseason ranking. We like to separate ourselves here at Last Word on College Football so we wanted to present our first ever Pageantry Top 25 rankings.
How is such a list determined?
As you are reading this, I assume the question that enters your mind might be how could you possibly quantify what would go into a pageantry ranking. Well, you see, it’s an inexact science. But, we took ten separate categories that epitomize what College Football is all about to make our list. That list consisted of the best and most intimidating stadiums and which teams have the best entrances onto the field. Also, from an aesthetic perspective, we looked at what we considered the best and most iconic helmets and uniform combinations. Such things as winning traditions, fight songs, mascots, campus, and tailgating were key components as well. Let’s get started with our top 25.
Army kicks off our list at number 25. A service academy had to make this list. Nothing screams pageantry more than kids that aren’t on scholarship and won’t play on Sunday’s that are giving everything they have for the person next to them. The uniform patches to represent future service duty is also special.
#24 Virginia Tech
When the Hokies spill out onto Lane Stadium with “Enter Sandman” in the background that’s about as good as it gets. Virginia Tech also ranks number 11 in the nation in all-time wins. Blacksburg is sold out most every home Saturday night.
Isn’t there just something about hearing “Anchors Aweigh” that makes you swell up with pride and want to cheer for the Naval Academy? The March On tradition prior to the annual Army vs Navy game is also a sight to behold.
Washington offers one of the most beautiful and scenic landscapes in all of College Football. Husky stadium provides a peak of Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains in the backdrop which also provides for outstanding tailgating on the water.
#21 Ole Miss
“The Grove” provides one of the best off the field experiences in College Football. The Rebels have the tailgating market cornered with their second to none pregame experience.
Boulder offers one of the great college towns in the country with an absolutely gorgeous campus. Besides that, is there anything scarier than Ralphie leading the team out of the locker room at 25 mph?
The Gators come in just inside the top 20. As far as chants go, the “Gator Chomp” performed to the tune of the Jaws movie theme song is strong. The stadium named the “swamp” is one of the toughest venues to play at in the country.
One of the more recognizable helmet and uniform combinations belong to the USC Trojans. There’s also something special about hearing Tribute to Troy that makes you think you are about to witness a battle. Seeing the white stallion gallop along the sidelines after a touchdown is pageantry defined, even if the rider technically is the mascot.
Camp Randall provides one of the coolest scenes in the game today. With the entire stadium standing, cheering, and jumping to House of Pain’s Jump Around the crowd can almost will the Badgers to victory in the fourth quarter. The band staying to play the fifth quarter is a great tradition.
College Football traditionalists probably won’t agree, but the younger generation loves what Oregon has going on. The ducks have some of the most diverse uniform combinations going today. Is there anything more “Oregon” than the duck leading the team out by riding on a motorcycle. Autzen Stadium is small but raucous.
It’s hard to find a program that is tradition-rich than Nebraska. With legendary coaches Bob Delaney and Tom Osborne and five national championships in their possession it’s hard to argue with that tradition. Although the program has fallen a bit, the Cornhuskers continue to have some of the most loyal fans in College Football. On game day, Lincoln is the second largest city in the state.
Under Dabo Swinney, the Clemson program is rolling. It’s easy to see how players want to come there with the gameday atmosphere at Death Valley. The bus entrance to the stadium that culminates in running onto the field after touching Howard’s Rock is about as special as it gets.
#13 Texas A&M
A fall weekend in College Station, Texas is a truly magical place to be. Whether it’s the midnight yell practice the night before a game, or hearing one of the best bands in the country march to the Aggie War Hymn, traditions are aplenty for Texas A&M. Kyle field has expanded to hold 102,000 people to make for an incredible home field advantage.
#12 Florida State
Watching Chief Osceola ride his horse, Renegade with a burning spear to plant it at midfield is what makes College Football great. Also, Florida State has remained traditional with their uniforms proving that a classic may never die. With three National Championships and Heisman Trophy winners, along with one of the best coaches of all-time in Bobby Bowden, the winning tradition is staggering.
Aren’t live animal mascots the best? Although, it’s not as intimidating as Ralphie, to see an Eagle fly from the top of the stadium to midfield is a spectacle in its own right. After an Auburn victory, the celebration at Toomer’s Corner is a sight to be seen.
#10 Penn State
The Nittany Lions begin the top 10 for us. The blue and white uniforms and the solid white helmet is something that should never change as it epitomizes Penn State football. No alternate uniforms here. At over 106,000 strong, the white out at Beaver Stadium on a Saturday night is as visually pleasing as a stadium can be.
The Sooners are inside the top ten as they carry a unique balance of a blue-blood traditional power along with recent success on the field. Oklahoma boasts iconic coaches such as Bud Wilkinson, Barry Switzer, and Bob Stoops as well as seven National Championships. With the Sooner Schooner spilling onto the field along with one of better fight songs in the country, Boomer Sooner has it going on in Norman.
It’s nearly impossible not to join in with the Volunteers when Rocky Top is blaring. It’s one of the best and most recognizable fight songs in the country. Watching a game at Neyland Stadium is a bucket list item that every football fan should experience. The Vol Navy tailgating on the lake outside the stadium and the checkerboard end zones should not be missed. Tennessee has a loyal fan base that is starved for a winning program after being spoiled for many years.
A live Bulldog that has no reservations about taking a literal bite out of their opponent is alright with me. Georgia is one of the only programs that ranked in the top 25 in every statistical category. You just can’t find a bad part of the Georgia program and after a National Championship appearance, this year optimism is high in Athens. Playing “between the hedges” harkens back to one of the storied programs of the south.
Alabama has become the biggest villain in College Football. Most of that comes with winning as much as they have. Not without controversy, the Tide lay claim of 17 National Championships after this year’s trophy. Alabama is just a program that belongs in this position each and every year. Tailgating is a very serious endeavor in Tuscaloosa. Fans show up 8 hours before kickoff, mostly because they need that long to properly slow cook their bbq.
Let’s be honest here, it’s impossible to not love Mike the Tiger. Mike has become the best live mascot in the country. LSU gives you all the feels on game day. Tiger Stadium is arguably the loudest stadium in the country. Saturday night in Death Valley has become a tough spot for opponents. With some of the most passionate fans in the nation, LSU finds itself in the top five in our countdown.
The tradition of Texas football spreads far and wide. They are the third most winningest program in the country. With an embarrassment of riches, Texas is one of the easiest places to win in the nation. You can talk about the mascot Bevo, the unmistakable horns sign, or the catchy tune of Texas Fight/The Eyes of Texas, or the humongous video replay board nicknamed “Godzillatron.” All of that encompasses what you envision a great fall Saturday.
#3 Notre Dame
It’s difficult to go wrong with the top three here. These three were separated by so few points, but the Fighting Irish landed here. All of the tradition and pageantry is real and they make South Bend one of the great places to be in the fall. The Victory March fight song is so popular that not only is it one of the best collegiate songs, but it has become the most used high school fight songs. Even the drum line has its own rally before the band enters the stadium. When you look at everything surrounding the stadium from Touchdown Jesus to the traditional golden helmets, Notre Dame is a College Football shrine.
#2 Ohio State
The band doing the Script Ohio and dotting of the I is probably the most storied of all pre-game traditions in the country. That has been a mainstay in Columbus over the years. On the field, the Buckeyes hold the second most wins all-time. One of the things that all of the top 10 teams on this list have in common is they have kept the tradition alive with their helmets. The signature Buckeyes on the gray helmet is something that should never change.
It’s quite fitting that two of the biggest rivals in College Football duked it out for number one on this list. The Wolverines took the top spot in four of the ten criteria which put them on top. No matter who you are a fan of, you cannot deny the love when you hear “Hail to the Victors.” Although not known as one of the loudest stadiums, the “Big House” is about as legendary as it gets. You cannot help but think back to the days of Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler. With the most wins all-time, it’s hard to argue with the Maize and Blue garnering the top spot.