I’ve been counting down the days until I can get back to Michigan State’s campus and experience my fourth, and final, football season. It seems like just yesterday I was attending my first Michigan State football game as a student and experiencing what tailgating means to a college student. While I’ll be leaving my beloved campus soon, I’ll always remember the game day traditions and my own traditions I’ve made with my college friends. Other Michigan schools have deeply rooted game day traditions that started somewhere during their college football history. Whether you’re a current student learning the game day ropes or a proud alumnus reminiscing on your college days, there’s a story to tell for every college football game day.
Game day at MSU always starts with tailgating at the tennis courts and the marching band and player march to Spartan Stadium. No matter if it’s sideways raining or sunny, the announcer always begins the game with a weather report and leading the crowd to yell “It’s a beautiful day for football.” The team takes the field as AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” rumbles throughout the stadium. Fans yell “Go Green!” before, during, and after the game, and you must respond with “Go White!” if you’re nearby. The most important game day tradition is a tie between singing along to “Victory for MSU” with the marching band and watching Zeke the Wonder Dog’s halftime performance.
University of Michigan
The Big House is the biggest stadium in the country and you’ll see it covered in maize and blue on game days. Tailgating always starts with a stack of pancakes at Fleetwood Diner. Fans then march with the marching band down Hoover street to the Big House. When the players enter the field, they jump to pat the “Go Blue” sign that sits at mid-field. A more quirky tradition is when the score for Slippery Rock University’s game is announced during breaks in play and Michigan fans cheer as if it’s their own team.
During a CMU game, you’ll hear “Fire Up!” cheered by fans all day and everywhere on campus if you’re a student. Fire Up! Fest is the start to every Chippewa football season where the public can meet the players, tour the press box, and watch the cheerleaders perform. There’s no way you’ll be missing the CMU and Western Michigan rivalry game if you’re a student or alumni.
At WMU, it’s all about football Saturdays at Waldo and tailgating in nearby parking lots. Western’s head coach started some new traditions a few years ago. WMU now has an in-stadium DJ to play music during downtime, particularly “For Whom The Bell Tolls” by Metallica when there’s a third down. The student section also does their signature rowing dance at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
The football games at Grand Valley always start with the crowd cheering to the team running out of the giant inflatable Louie the Laker. You may find it unusual to see some tailgaters in RVs in the parking lot outside the stadium. GVSU’s traditional “Battle of the Valleys” is a week-long event preceding their game against Saginaw Valley. Each school raises money for the Laker Children’s Fund all week and after the game, the winner of the charity competition is announced.