College fight songs are synonymous with the pageantry, spectacle, and above all, the boundless pride often reserved for one particular institution on game day. The college fight song commands fans and students alike to dance, lead cheers, march in-step with the band, and grow ten-feet tall to run headfirst through walls for their respective institutions.
The best college fight songs are often identified with entire regions and particular ways of life. In unison, the marching band strikes up the composition, while rabid fans cheer on both academic and athletic success — particularly in regards to football. Football, as America’s most popular sport, is often the common denominator binding wine and cheese alumni, sporting buffs, working class locals, giant student bodies, and drunken fanatics together.
5. Florida State, Fight Song and War Chant
The Florida State War Chant is a bold and gaudy display of arrogance. The almost locomotive-like bass drum stomp and blaring firm horn section is a perfect soundtrack for the stifling intensity of Florida panhandle heat and humidity.
The Fight Song and Chant became synonymous with speed, dominance, and aggression throughout the 1990s. Bobby Bowden’s Seminoles put together an outright football factory dynasty of Florida talent that was always in contention for the National Championship. Florida State won two titles in 1993 and 1999 largely upon the strength of 85,000 rabid fans, thirsting for blood and war at Doak Campbell Stadium. Most recently, the Florida State Fight Song and War Chant help drive the Seminoles toward victory in the 2013-2014 BCS National Championship Game, although it didn’t help them repeat in the new CFB playoff era.
4. Tennessee Volunteers, “Rocky Top”
“Rocky Top” is not the official fight song of the University of Tennessee. In fact, “Rocky Top” is actually a bluegrass-styled hit originally written in 1967 to depict life in the Great Smoky Mountain region, and the term “is in reference to the summit of Thunderhead Mountain,” which is located at the Tennessee-North Carolina border along the Appalachian Trail. With lyrics that riff on failed relationships, moonshine, and the rejection of city life in favor of carefree, country living, this popular song was to quickly become synonymous with the state of Tennessee and Volunteer Nation.
The booming horns, gaudy tuba, and whimsical woodwinds effectively hasten the pace of this country music hit and transform a Southern folk legend into a party atmosphere at Neyland Stadium. “Rocky Top” mocks the opposition with a fun-filled yet resolute revelry, as this song blares at every first down, interception, time out, field goal, halftime, and defensive stand. Over the years, legendary Vols Smokey, Tee Martin, Candace Parker, Robert Neyland, Phillip Fulmer, and Pat Summit have given the band plenty of opportunity to strike up the “Rocky Top.” Home sweet home to me. Good ole Rocky Top. Rocky Top, Tennessee.
3. USC Trojans, “Fight On” and “Tribute to Troy”
USC fight songs pay tribute to California cool. On game day, the campus is often the setting for perfect weather, Hollywood celebrities, and above all else, winning. USC’s “Fight On” is a lighter composition that is more so a tribute to forward movement — particularly offensive football. “Fight On” is played after every single first down on the gridiron and has enraged the competition for generations through dominant USC dynasties.
On the other side of the ball, the USC Trojans strike up “Tribute to Troy” after every defensive stand. “Tribute to Troy” features a steady drum march, rich horns, and crashing cymbals that are reminiscent of rallying the citizenry to guard the perimeter of the ancient Troy city-state. “Tribute to Troy” challenges all of USC Nation to stand tall and prepare for battle.
2. Notre Dame Fighting Irish, “Victory March”
Win one for the Gipper. The Fighting Irish “Victory March” arguably features the best lyrics of any fight song, their relatively wordy content often serving as a filter separating diehard Notre Dame alumni away from casual followers of the program. The rah-rah cheers and University of Notre Dame marching band, of course, have emerged synonymous with victory and hallowed tradition over the years.
Notre Dame, as the most historic program in college football lore, can lay claim to 11 national titles, 7 Heisman Trophies, and more All-Americans than any other university. Interestingly, Notre Dame, USC, and Michigan have all grown as fierce rivals on the football field, in the classroom, and at the marching band section.
1. Michigan Wolverines, “Hail to the Victors”
The University of Michigan “Hail to the Victors” is the best fight song ever created. The composition features repetitive, all-inclusive lyrics that may easily be recited by casual fans along with blaring horns, whimsical winds, and a pulsating bass and snare march. The University of Michigan band captivates all Wolverines to dance, stomp, celebrate, and grandstand.
The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, of course, is always hailed as one of the best public university in the United States. The Michigan athletics department has historically fielded competitive rosters in all sports. Football, of course, ultimately emerged as the big-ticket item and the main draw for the Wolverine faithful.
Michigan has compiled more wins and a higher winning percentage than any NCAA Division 1-A football program. The dominance translates into 11 national titles, 3 Heisman winners, and 150 All-Americans. The University of Michigan has been playing football since 1879 and has largely shared controlover the Big 10 with the Ohio State University. Even a smattering of Buckeyes fans may cite Ann Arbor as home to the best college fight song. Hail to the Victors.