Which college football team has the best entrance in the country?
It’s truly impossible to decide, but that‘s exactly what I’m about to do. What follows is an extremely subjective ranking of the 25 best entrances in college football, skewed heavily toward those featuring animals and/or vehicles. Some schools lost points for not having cool YouTube videos of their entrances. Others were ranked lower after I got tired of watching people in helmets run onto a field.
Without further ado, here’s the list you’re going to hate no matter what.
Thanks to SI's Dan Gartland and Stanley Kay for their input. Also, one more reminder that this is purely subjective.
25. Arizona State
The Tillman Tunnel blends sports and the military, which isn't unusual, but it's one of the few examples that actually feels authentic. Having players run through the photo of Tillman is a subtler way to honor his legacy.
24. Penn State
Arguably the loudest student section in the country. “Let’s Go P-S-U” wouldn’t be cool if it wasn’t yelled at deafening decibels.
23. Florida State
Something about a “war chant” and Chief Osceola just doesn’t feel right in 2016. The use of the Seminole mascot is actually more complicated than people think. For now, I’ll leave FSU on the list for theatrics and symmetry alone, and because I’m scared of #FSUTwitter.
Another entrance that’s rooted in the connotation of war, Hawaii’s Haka dance is at the very least extremely intimidating.
21. Texas A&M
A cool entrance, but too much burden is carried by the band here.
20. North Carolina State
Running along a wolf statue is pretty dope. Wolves are underrated animals. If NC State wants the top spot though, they’re going to need a live wolf as opposed to a statue.
Again, let’s try to get a real duck on that Harley and we may be onto something.
18. Air Force
It’s not so much what Air Force players do themselves, but the fact that the opponents’ tunnel has signs reminding players about the elevation. That is some solid, institutional trash talk.
17. Ohio State
Dotting the i!
This is a neat tradition, but the “M Club Supports You” tagline cheapens it the slightest bit.
Props to Arkansas for a multi-level entrance. I love the little hog pen, and running through an “A” is also very cool.
The Tunnel Walk does a great job of building an impending burst of emotion. This is simple and always well executed.
13. East Carolina
Purple haze and pirates don’t really go together, but something about the ludicrousness of this whole operation really appeals to me.
12. Miami (FL)
Of course, when we’re talking about smoke, you can’t forget about The U, who (slightly dubiously) get credit for starting the trend. It’s not the coolest entrance ever, but it gets bonus points for creating all the copycats.
Manipulating a bird so it knows exactly when, how and how high to fly will always feel like wizardry to me. If Auburn could get a tiger to fly though? Game over.
A parachute team? Come on. That alone is worth the price of admission.
9. Notre Dame
“Play Like a Champion Today” is super hokey and Lou Holtz has become kind of a nutjob, but hell if this entrance doesn’t just work.
Running through letters is cool, and a “T” seems like maybe the best one to run through.
7. Texas Tech
Nowhere near enough entrances utilize masks. And who didn’t love bandits growing up? (Just me? Fine. It’s my list.) The use of the horse really helps here too.
6. Georgia Tech
We live in a world lacking jalopies. Outside of Chet from The Hardy Boys novels, I don’t know anyone who drives one. That shoots the Yellow Jackets high up my list.
A buffalo is such a ridiculously large animal that has no place on a football field. Props to Colorado for having mascot-entrance synergy.
For me, the Sooner Schooner is the irresistible combination of animals and vehicles coming together for one awesome entrance.
3. South Carolina
I’m not sure I’ll ever understand the meaning of Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey, but the music makes for a damn fine college football hype-up.
2. Virginia Tech
This entrance is one of the purest slices of Americana you will ever experience.
I still don’t know how no one has torn up a knee trying to make it down that hill. It looks legitimately terrifying. This entrance is No. 1 not only because it’s soaked in tradition, but because the degree of difficulty is easily the highest on this list.