8. Mississippi State
Musician: Damien Bone – The Weeks
Why he’s a Mississippi State fan: Being from Mississippi and its lack of any professional sports teams, everyone’s favorite sports teams falls on the college teams within the state. Pretty much everyone chooses from three teams in the state between Ole Miss, Southern Miss, and Mississippi State. I think that once I realized that State had cowbells and bulldogs, I knew I would be a fan.
Most memorable game: A few years ago I went to [Sylvester] Croom’s first game as a coach. It was also the first game I went to at State. I had an incredible experience. … It seemed fitting to indulge myself with a substance that can be found in fields that conveniently surround Starkville. Making all my senses fire on all cylinders that definitely made that day one to remember. State won the game giving it the perfect ending along with my arm cramping from shaking a cowbell and my cheeks sore from grinning excessively.
Favorite game day tradition: My favorite game day tradition would have to be the barbecues and drinking games that happen prior to the games. As long as there is food on the grill and beer in my cup, I know that I’m going to have a great day.
On naming their album after a famous player from a different school: I consider myself more of an SEC fan over anything else. So naming the album Dear Bo Jackson was a pretty easy decision to make. We love that Bo considered himself a good ballplayer over a football or baseball player. We would like to consider ourselves a good band as opposed to a rock or indie band.
Musician: Collin Herring
Why he’s a Mizzou fan: I became a Missouri Tigers fan by osmosis about four years ago. The most amazing woman I’ve ever met, my girlfriend, is from Springfield, MO, and her entire family are diehard Mizzou fans. They’re such great people. The excitement is contagious. I’m sure we’ll all be watching some games together this year.
Most memorable game: Watching the Mizzou vs. A&M game last December was pretty awesome. It was a deserving victory for Mizzou and a memorable one at that. This game showed that Mizzou is more than capable of pulling off big wins in the SEC. Being able to keep Johnny Manziel in check was an accomplishment in itself, and Mizzou did more than just that, even though that was our only non-double digit win of the season.
Favorite player: I’m going with Henry Josey. He’s exhilarating to watch and has a lot of heart. He’s the second player in Missouri history to have two 1,000 yard rushing seasons. Henry Josey also has a great comeback story. In 2011, a horrible knee injury nearly put him out of the game forever. Three years later he shows up at the NFL Combine with the third fastest 40-yard dash among running backs. Also, he’s from my home state.
Favorite game day tradition: Being in Texas for most of the Missouri football season keeps us out of the “tradition” loop, but I will say we have our own tradition of texting and staying connected to our loved ones in Missouri. Most of these texts involve the use of swear words.
10. Ole Miss
Musician: JoJo Hermann – Widespread Panic
Why he’s an Ole Miss fan: I landed in Oxford, Miss., in 1987. I just went to visit and was just kinda crashing on people’s couches. I fell in love with Mississippi and Oxford and Ole Miss, so I never left. I think the one game I remember the most back then was 1988 when we played Alabama, and it was in Tuscaloosa. We beat Bama on their homecoming. The whole band Beanland, my band at the time, was down there, and I’ll never forget that game. I think I really turned into a fan at that Alabama homecoming…And I’m an Ole Miss alumni now.
Favorite coach: I gotta go with Billy Brewer. He was the guy. He was there when I was there, and he’d come down to Proud Larry’s and talk football with everybody and was just a great guy and just great with the fans. He’s one of the legendary coaches.
Favorite game day tradition: The Grove, pretty much THE game day tradition. The Grove is the quad, which dominates the center of the campus, and it’s just a big field of grass and lots of trees. Everybody comes in the night before the game and the morning of and puts all their tents up, and it turns into a big barbecue. Everybody just breaks out their grills and starts barbecuing before the game… Only the SEC does it like that. And I have to say my one other biggest association with pregame Ole Miss games would be bourbon and Cokes. It was all about the bourbon and Coke. Not anymore, but back then, yeah. My dentist told me I had to stop drinking Coke.
Bigger rival – LSU or Mississippi State: LSU no doubt. That LSU rivalry is the real deal. It gets pretty ugly. I really don’t have anything against Mississippi State. But LSU/Ole Miss I think is the real rivalry. It can get pretty ugly at those games.
11. South Carolina
Musician: Darius Rucker
Why he’s a South Carolina fan: Well I guess I became a fan when I started going there. I went there when I was 18 years old, and you can’t not be a fan. My freshman year was one of the best seasons we had ever had in college football. Back in 1984 we actually got to No. 2 in the country that year before losing to Navy, which was the most depressing game. So I’ve been a gamecock ever since I set foot on campus. I love the gamecocks. They mean a lot to me, and I’m proud to be from that university.
Favorite player: My favorite player of all time in Carolina history is probably Sterling Sharpe. We went to college together and knew each other in college. And he was just a stud. He could catch everything he was passed. He was big. He was just a great guy and my friend.
Favorite game day tradition: I love going to the games. My favorite tradition is driving my bus up to Columbia and parking right next to the stadium and tailgating with all my college buddies. We all get together every game and just have a great time. But then I love taking my boy and sitting in the seats and watching South Carolina football. My son is a bigger fan than I am. We love to just go sit and watch the Gamecocks play and yell and scream, and it’s been so good lately. It’s great to go and see us win. Probably my favorite tradition is taking my boy to watch games.
On watching games while touring: We usually have a TV right off the stage and somebody shouts out the score between every song.
Who he’d rather beat – Clemson or UGA: Clemson: You can ask pretty much any Gamecock fan you know, and they’re gonna say Clemson.
His prediction for South Carolina this season: Same one as every season—national championship. I say that at the beginning of every year. One of these days I’m going to be right.
Rucker is in the process of recording a new album and is releasing a Christmas album in October.
Musician: Justin Hoskins – The Dirty Guv’nahs
Why he’s a Tennessee fan: I was born a Tennessee fan. I grew up an East Tennessean, so there’s no hiding from the Big Orange. As the years passed, my interest in UT sports grew and grew. I am a UT graduate and my passion for all things Vols is as deep as ever. I may or may not be checking out the latest recruiting update after I finish this interview.
Most memorable game: It’s hard narrowing it down. I’ll go with one of my favorites from childhood—the 1998 victory over Florida at Neyland Stadium. In those days, the September matchup versus Florida essentially cleared the path to the eastern division championship. UT had been title contenders for several years, but the early season losses to [Steve] Spurrier and the [Florida] Gators were too big a hole to dig out of. Finally, in 1998, we broke through. I was just starting my sophomore year of high school, and at the time my family’s tickets were in the south end zone behind the goal post. When Florida missed a field goal right in front of me to give us the victory, the students began rushing the field. Although I wasn’t in college yet, I went straight to the field. I managed to get to the bottom of the goal post and held on for dear life as the older, crazier kids tore it down. The Vols were on their way to a national championship at last. I took part of the field home with me that night, and I still have it.
Favorite player: The correct answer for anyone who has grown up in these parts is Peyton Manning. He embodies everything you could want out of a football player. He’s such an inspiring student of the game. Besides that obvious choice, I’ve always really liked Al Wilson, Peerless Price and Eric Berry.
Favorite game day tradition: College football is so much more than just the actual game itself. I like waking up early and getting down to Neyland to maximize the tailgating time with 100,000 of my closest orange-clad friends. On the prettiest days, you show up on your boat as a part of the Vol Navy. It’s essentially a huge party on the Tennessee River right beside the stadium—the largest boat tailgate in the country. Make sure to leave time to get over to the Vol Walk and cheer on your coaches and players as they march into the stadium before the game.
13. Texas A&M
Musician: Robert Earl Keen
Why he’s a Texas A&M fan: I was a Texas A&M fan just as far back as I can remember. My father was a University of Texas graduate. And consequently, on Thanksgiving we would always go either to College Station or Austin and watch the annual Thanksgiving Day Texas A&M/University of Texas game. Even though I was very proud of my dad, and I love my dad very much, I seemed to always find myself rooting for the Aggies.
Favorite player: Well, my favorite player of all time is Johnny Football. I just think he’s so creative. I think that’s where I have this connection because writing songs and doing what I do and getting on stage, and changing the set right in the middle of it. I feel connected to that sort of thinking. So when I see that guy doing something really out of the box and changing it midstream I can totally connect with that kind of thinking.
Favorite game day tradition: Well, I like the kissing the girls on the scoring, man. Every time you score—with a field goal or even a safety. Boom, throw your hands up in the air, and then you kiss your girl. Does that happen anywhere else? And if you took a date to a football game and it was a new date and you never kissed her before, it was like, this great, exciting moment for you thinking “oh this is gonna happen, or I hope this happens.” So it was a sure way to get a kiss.
The bigger Aggie football fan—him or Lyle Lovett: I would have to say Lyle is. He knows all the yells. There’s a lot of them. And to get to know the yells you have to know the hand signs to do ‘em, right? And Lyle knows all of those, and I’m always amazed that he does. Because I’m like yeah I know that one and that one, but I don’t know all these. So I have to say that he would rank at least on paper higher than I would.
His new bluegrass album he just completed: I have some great guests. I have Lyle singing on a song with me; Natalie Maines from the Dixie Chicks singing a song; Peter Rowan, who is a bluegrass icon; Sara Watkins from Nickel Creek, playing the fiddle, and Danny Barnes [banjo]. I have an incredible set up of great, great people. I chose all the songs. They’re all traditional bluegrass songs, and they range from Flatt and Scruggs to John Hartford.
Keen will release his bluegrass album, Happy Prisoner, February 10, 2015.
Musician: Marshall Chapman
Why she’s a Vanderbilt fan: I was a student at Vanderbilt from 1967 until I graduated in 1971. I remember attending some of the games. My roommate was from Gadsden, Ala., and when Vanderbilt played Alabama, she’d pull for the Tide. I didn’t understand this at the time, but now I do. I vividly recall seeing Bear Bryant stride onto Dudley Field, in his trademark houndstooth hat, with his team. My date pointed toward him and said, “see that man right there? That’s God.” I didn’t understand that at the time either, but now I do. Homecoming my freshman year, Vanderbilt played Kentucky. I was all dressed up like I was going to church with a corsage and everything…
Most memorable game: The most memorable game I ever watched was Jay Cutler’s last as a Commodore. With Vanderbilt trailing 24-21, Cutler engineered a last-minute drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Earl Bennett for the victory. I feel like that moment was a turning point for the program.
Favorite player: Well, Cutler would definitely be in the mix and Pat Toomay, who played while I was a student before he went on to play for the Dallas Cowboys. Toomay has written a couple of books, one of which I recently read [On Any Given Sunday]. My recent favorites are running back Zac Stacy and wide receiver Jordan Matthews.
Favorite game day tradition: For about 10 years, I had an all-access press pass for Vanderbilt sports. As a result, I created my own game-day tradition. I would sit atop the press box to watch the games. The view from up there was incredible! The only other people around were cameramen, and that was only for televised games. One time Kenny Chesney was up there with some guys. He wasn’t wearing his trademark cowboy hat. We were playing Tennessee and I could tell he was rooting for the Vols, even though he was being cool about it. Anyway, when the games weren’t televised, I’d pretty much have the roof to myself. For a while, I had my own canvas lounge chair up there with my name scrawled on it. Once I took my yoga mat up there. I was a sight—practicing yoga while watching guys bang the shit out of each other below. Talk about a balance of yin and yang! But then everything changed after the bowl win in 2008. I got a letter from the athletic department revoking my press pass.
Final thoughts: Being a southerner, I’ll leave you with a story. For years, my seats at Vanderbilt Stadium were directly behind the late, great Owen Bradley. This was during the DiNardo era when Vanderbilt played great defense. Their defense was ranked No. 1, but the offense sucked. Every time Vanderbilt would do something great, like make a goal line stand, they’d turn around and fumble on the next possession. And every time something like that happened, Bradley would say, “Prosperity in the land of the poor is short-lived.” In closing, here’s my favorite football quote which is attributed to Marino “The Godfather” Casem, longtime coach at Alcorn State: “In the East, college football is a cultural exercise. On the West Coast, it’s a tourist attraction. And in the Midwest, it’s a form of cannibalism. But in the South, it is religion and Saturday is the Holy Day.”