Photo: Jeffrey Davis

Gameday the right way: A guide to USC football traditions

Tailgating and the Cockabooses

For many, it's not a real Saturday in the South without tailgating. From the Fairgrounds to the Memorial lots, there is no shortage of Gamecocks getting ready for kickoff. Family and friends come together to play cornhole, chow down on some Bojangles chicken and enjoy the company of their fellow Carolina fans.

While some are content to just run some music through a Bluetooth speaker and toss around an old football, others go above and beyond. Nowhere is this seen better than in the famous Cockabooses. Converted from actual train cars, these deluxe tailgate spots (they can cost hundreds of thousands) line the back of Gamecock Park at Williams-Brice Stadium. They often feature big-screen TVs, kitchens and picturesque views of the stadium.

"Sandstorm"

One of Gamecock football's newest traditions, "Sandstorm" has quickly become a fan favorite. The Finnish techno beat started to catch on at Williams-Brice in the 2000s and has quickly become a critical part of gameday. Fans jump up and down to the beat while waving their rally towels and shouting "U-S-C" before kickoffs and during moments of peak intensity during the game. It's a sure-fire way to make the crowd a critical part of the game itself.

"2001"

There's a reason South Carolina football's entrance is ranked among the best in the nation. It's a battle to not get chills as the sounds from "2001: A Space Odyssey" build within Willy B along with the energy of the crowd. The whole thing crescendos as our beloved mascot, Cocky, makes his grand entrance and the team makes their way onto the field.

The Mighty Sound of the Southeast

From pre-game to post-game, the Carolina Band can bring you to your feet win, lose or draw. Their pregame show features class medleys such as the university's old fight song, and they bring you a new and unique halftime show every game. They also help keep the crowd hyped up throughout the game with spirit chants and songs from the stands. Make sure to play close attention so you can catch on to what chants go with each down on both offense and defense!

And a secret only real Gamecocks know is to stay in the stadium until other fans have left to see the band's real closing performance. They play out the last stragglers with a rendition of "Amazing Grace" and a final singing of the alma mater, "We Hail Thee Carolina."

The Alma Mater

No matter the score, South Carolina always ends football games by coming together to sing the university's alma mater, "We Hail Thee Carolina." The coaches and players gather in the east end zone in front of the student section as fans in the stands put their arms around each other. Together, the crowd sways in time and sings along. The tradition culminates with the song's final line, "Here's a health, Carolina, forever to thee!" Here, students and alumni raise their right hand as if offering a toast to the university.



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