By: Paul Fryant
If you have never been to Starkville, MS on a Saturday afternoon in the fall then you are not truly able to appreciate this entry of the SEC Bucket list yet. Even though opponents have long dreaded hearing the unique sounds of the cowbell, Bulldog faithful have continued ringing. For many years the cowbells were “outlawed” at sporting events but that did not deter Bulldog fans. Last season the SEC officially began allowing them at sporting events. At times this past season the cowbells were almost deafening as the Bulldogs were making their unexpected run to a New Year’s Day Bowl. So read on and enjoy this short history of the MSU Cowbell.
The exact origin of the cowbell is not know but the most popular story of its origin was that a cow wandered on to the field during a State/Ole Miss game. State defeated Ole Miss handily that day and the crowd adopted the cow as a good luck charm. Since the cow was a little cumbersome to transport to the game the fans adopted to just bring cowbells to support the Bulldogs. History shows that cowbells started appearing at games in the 30’s and 40’s but they became a mainstay during the 50’s and 60’s. Strange as it may be, the cowbell became the most popular during the years following as the Bulldogs were seldom able to put a competitive team on the field. The ringing of the bell almost became a sign of solidarity for the Bulldog faithful.
If you’ve ever seen a cowbell, you would know that it would be really awkward to ring unless it had a handle. Leave that ingenuity up to former MSU professors, Earl W. Terrell and Ralph L. Reeves who decided to weld bicycle handles to the cowbells. With that ingenuity came the widespread sale of cowbells by the Bulldog faithful.
From 1974 until 2009, the SEC declared the cowbells illegal at football and baseball games as artificial noisemakers. I’m pretty sure that did not prevent fans from bringing cowbells to the games though! This past season, the SEC reversed their ruling about cowbells and cowbells are now allowed back at bulldog sporting events, but there are many rules about when the bells can be rung. The school actually did an entire campaign that was aired on local TV, shown on the Jumbotron pregame, and they even devoted a website to to teach the fans how to “Respect the Bell” and “Ring Responsibly.” Mississippi State officials still encourage the cowbell, at the proper times, and prior to kickoff the Saturday Night Live skit featuring Christopher Walken and Will Ferrell is shown on the Jumbotron as Walken demands “More Cowbell” from Ferrell.
Experiencing this unique but deafening sound at Davis Wade Stadium on a football Saturday is a “must add” to your SEC Bucket List.
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# 82- Weaver D’s-Georgia
# 83- Rupp Arena-Kentucky
# 84- Senior Walk-Arkansas
# 85- God and Football-SEC
# 86- Balleyhoo’s Bananas Foster-Florida
# 87- Behind the Scenes with Mike the Tiger-LSU
# 88- Signing Day at the Blind Pig-Georgia
# 89- Vol Navy-Tennessee
# 90- Rammer Jammer-Alabama
# 91- Cocky and 25 Seconds-South Carolina
# 92- Golden Girls-LSU
# 93- Jerry World-SEC
# 94- Jumbotron-Mississippi State
# 95- Battle Hymn-Georgia
# 96- Feltner’s Whatta Burger-Arkansas
# 97- Ole Miss Student Section-Ole Miss
# 98- “It’s Football Time in Tennessee”- Tennessee
# 99- 2 Bits-Florida
# 100- Momma G’s Nachos-Auburn
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