Charlie & Debbie

CLEMSON, SOUTH CAROLINA - SEPTEMBER 9: The Clemson Tigers take the field before facing the Charleston Southern Buccaneers at Memorial Stadium on September 9, 2023 in Clemson, South Carolina. (Photo by Isaiah Vazquez/Getty Images)

The South takes pride in our college traditions.  An article I read this week got me to thinking, and I decided to assemble the 6 college traditions that make North Carolina and South Carolina schools unique.  So, Southern Living Magazine recently put together a huge list of ’62 Reasons Why College Is Better In The South.’ Of course, they included all sorts of endearing aspects of colleges from Texas to Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and beyond.

And, many of the items Southern Living included stem from football in the South.  And, I focus on some of those, too.  After all, it’s a huge part of the culture and fairly inescapable.  But, there remain so many charming traditions and attributes at these schools that may not have anything to do with football.  It’s a region rich in history.  Museums are plentiful and architecture is beautiful.  Also, the climate is extremely appealing.

In their list, Southern Living points out that tailgating is king at most Southern colleges.  Folks take their game day outfit seriously.  Some choose to bathe head to toe in school apparel and colors.  But, others take it up a notch with girls in pretty dresses and the perfect boots.  I see you, Alabama!

It’s a fun list that I encourage you to view in its entirety.  And, just like we all engage in friendly ribbing every Saturday in the Fall over our favorite teams, I expect folks to have plenty of opinions.  But, there’s no argument that attending college in the South offers up lasting memories we hold dear.

So, browse the full list for overall perspective on why college is better in the South.  And, join me as I highlight 6 College Traditions That Make These North Carolina and South Carolina Schools Unique.  Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg!

  • 1. NC State: The Free Expression Tunnel

    I admit I was not familiar with NC State’s ‘Free Expression Tunnel.’  After talking with one of its graduates and biggest fans, I learned that it’s a pedestrian tunnel under the railroad tracks.  It connects one part of the campus to another.  And, it is tradition for students to decorate the walls and ceiling.  Sometimes clubs use it to promote events.  Other times, it’s amateur artists lending a hand.  And, sometimes rival schools paint their team colors as a friendly prank.  But, it dates back to 1967.  And, it’s definitely a college tradition that makes this Raleigh, North Carolina school unique.

  • 2. UNC-Chapel Hill: Rameses The Ram

    Ok, so one of NC State’s staunchest supporters encouraged me not to include anything about UNC Chapel Hill in this list.  However, I felt I would be remiss if I left them out!  First of all, the University of North Carolina was the first public university in the nation.  William Richardson Davie wrote an act establishing the university in 1789.  And, in 1793, he and fellow trustees laid the cornerstone of the first building.  The school is rich in tradition and famous grads.  It adopted the “Tar Heel” nickname for its sports teams, a nod to the Tar Heel State of North Carolina.  But, how about the mascot?  UNC cheerleader, Vic Huggins, began the tradition in 1924.  Deciding they needed a mascot, he proposed a ram in reference to Tar Heel fullback Jack Merritt, known as “Battering Ram.”  The first live “Rameses” came from Texas of all places!  Definitely a college tradition that makes this North Carolina school unique.

  • 3. Duke University: Cameron Crazies and the Devil's Walk

    Duke University in North Carolina is proud of their academics, inclusivity and social awareness.  But, one of their most iconic and beloved sporting traditions surrounds the “Cameron Crazies.”  These are the students who cheer passionately for their Blue Devils basketball team at the Cameron Indoor Stadium.  You probably have seen them with their bodies painted blue and in outrageous costumes.  There’s also the “Devil’s Walk” before home football games and the “Victory Bell.”  These traditions make this North Carolina college unique.

  • 4. Clemson University: Howard's Rock

    We had the privilege of working alongside an extremely spirited Clemson grad years ago.  We attended the Clemson Carolina game at Death Valley.  It was one of the most spectacular displays of school spirit and tailgating tradition I ever saw.  Of the many things that make Clemson unique is the tradition of ‘Howard’s Rock.’  Known as the most exciting 25 seconds in college football, the players run down The Hill from the field house onto the field.  And, that’s where they rub the rock.  Coach Frank Howard told his 1967 team if they gave 110% they could ‘rub the rock.’  They won, and now the players rub it for luck before each game.  It’s a tradition that makes this South Carolina college unique!

  • 5. USC: Chicken Finger Wednesday, Cocky's Call And Tiger Burn

    University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina is certainly known for its unique mascot “Cocky.”  The ‘gamecock,’ known to be specially bred and conditioned for increased strength and stamina, Cocky first started cheering for the team in 1980.  He’s famous for his ‘Magic Box’ entrance.  To kick off their college experience, freshmen gather after move-in for “Cocky’s Call” in the historic horseshoe for the official chant.  Then there’s “Tiger Burn” symbolizing the rivalry with Clemson.  The night before the matchup, fans gather to burn a 30 foot tall tiger.  And, of course, on Wednesdays, students flock to dining halls for “Chicken Finger Wednesday.”  I’d say those all qualify to make this South Carolina college unique in tradition.

  • 6. Coastal Carolina University: The Turnover Cloak and Chauncey The Chanticleer

    I’m a little biased here since our son is a senior at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina.  The school is home to our beloved mascot “Chauncey.”  He’s a Chanticleer, proud and fierce rooster, by the way.  The name comes from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, specifically The Nun’s Priest Tale.  As you can imagine, an English professor suggested the idea.  Chauncey is known for his game entrances onto the teal field or “surf turf” on  his motorized jet ski.  We lean into the beach geography.  But, my favorite game tradition is the “Turnover Cloak.”  When our team gets a turnover, the player dons a huge fur coat wielding a sword for a brief sideline celebration.  It’s quite unusual, but fun.  And, it definitely qualifies as a South Carolina college with a unique tradition.  Chants Up!

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