A big part of college football is the tradition, and they are as varied as the schools themselves. While Ohio State’s fans rally to their band spelling script “Ohio,” Georgia Tech’s players are cheered as they take the field behind the ”Rambling Wreck.” The Mississippi State zealots fire their team up by incessantly ringing cow bells, and Oregon Duck supporters go crazy at the sight of Donald Duck riding on the back of a Harley Davidson.
Unfortunately for Bearcat football fans through the years, there weren’t many traditions to embrace other than the band running down the stadium steps before the game, but in more recent years, some new and more exciting habits are being formed, and one of them is the Catwalk.
The Catwalk takes place at the “grid” which was modeled after “The Grove” at Ole Miss where fans come together to tailgate in a grassy area on campus, and Cincinnati uses the grassy area at Sigma Sigma Commons and Campus Green for those festivities. The Bearcat football team then marches through the fans about two and a half hours before kickoff. It gives the Cincinnati enthusiasts a chance to show their support for the team while also giving the players an opportunity to see that support up close and personal. Coach Jones talked about the importance of this ritual.
“The Catwalk sets the temperament of our football team heading into the stadium,” said Jones. “You look around at all the great programs, and it’s become standard on game day. It’s something that our players have grown accustomed to. I want to urge everyone that we need to continue to grow this. It means so much to our players and is very uplifting before they go into competition. I really believe it sets a team’s temperament. You look at what it did for us at the Liberty Bowl and this past Thursday night. This Saturday will be critical as well.”
Another tradition still in its infancy is when the UC players emerge from the inflatable Bearcat, run the length of the field and acknowledge the student body in the west end zone. Coach Jones explained the reason for this celebration.
“It’s a way of saying ‘thank you’ to our great student body and letting them know that we are all in this together. These are their peers, and we want to thank them for coming to the game. That’s what makes college football special. The Catwalk and this are both part of the pageantry of college football.”
Another huge part of the pageantry of college football is the large, raucous crowds, and they can also help in recruiting.
“The foundation of any program is recruiting,” said Jones. “Our fans can have such a big impact on recruiting because it’s about first impressions. During a recruit’s four hours on campus, a young man is making judgments on our fans, how they support the team, the environment and the game day atmosphere. It all starts with the Catwalk and continues to how we take the field and to how we play the game. Fans can make a big impact by coming to the games and supporting the team.”
The Bearcats will play Delaware State on Saturday night at 7 o’clock at Nippert Stadium, and tickets are still available.