Gearing up for game day traditions

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Photo Credit: Melanie Westfall | Daily Texan Staff

At the end of their journey on the 40 Acres, there are some things every Longhorn will come to know by heart. Although students come and go each year, these University traditions are here to stay.

The Daily Texan has compiled a list of just a few of the traditions that remain an integral part of the University.

Big Bertha

Known as the “Sweetheart of the Longhorn Band” since 1955, it may surprise some folks to learn that Big Bertha was originally made for the University of Chicago and named after the famed German Big Bertha howitzer.

After the University of Chicago phased out varsity football in 1939, they stored Bertha underneath the stadium where it was supposedly radioactively contaminated by Manhattan Project experiments. 

In 1954, Moton Crockett and Colonel D. Harold Byrd, both affiliated with the Longhorn Band, worked to purchase Big Bertha for a mere $1 and had it restored.

Measuring at 41 inches wide and over 10 feet tall, Longhorn football fans will find it hard to miss seeing her being led by the Bertha Crew at games.

Smokey the Cannon 

Owned and operated by the Texas Cowboys, a student service organization, Smokey the Cannon has become an iconic part of Longhorn
football games.

Smokey I was originally built in 1953 by the University’s mechanical engineering lab in response to often heard shotgun blasts at the
Red River Rivalry.

The current cannon the Cowboys use is dubbed Smokey III, which fires four shotgun shells at the end of every quarter, at kickoff, every time the Longhorns score, at the end of each game and after “The Eyes of Texas” is sung. 

Other than on the field at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, Smokey can be found on display in the Red McCombs Red Zone atrium and, of course, at the Red River Rivalry game in Dallas.

Burnt Orange and White

Although it’s hard to find someone now who doesn’t recognize UT-Austin for its notable burnt orange and white hues, that wasn’t always the case.

For years, the University dabbled with different color combinations. It wasn’t until 1885, after dedicated fans decided to don bright orange and white ribbons to show support for the Longhorn baseball team’s inaugural game, that the colors were associated with the University. Even so, the colors weren’t made official until 1900 after a school-wide vote.

But the school color debacle wasn’t over yet. The bright orange proved to be a problem for athletes as the dye faded to yellow, and opponents dubbed the Longhorns “yellow bellies.”

In 1925, coach E.J. Stewart first brought in the University’s current burnt orange hue. After the dye became unavailable, the University once again returned to its bright orange and white colors.

Luckily, after years of confusion, head coach Darrell K. Royal settled the school color debate once and for all in the 1960s by bringing back the beloved Texas orange.

Texas Fight 

Like all longtime school rivals, Texas A&M has been the brunt of many chants, jokes and shady tweets. But for UT, they’re even the driving force behind our official fight song — “Texas Fight.”

Traditionally sung after the University’s alma mater “The Eyes of Texas,” “Texas Fight” was written by Colonel Walter S. Hunnicutt along with James E. King.

It’s sung to a quick-paced version of “Taps,” the song typically played at military funerals, and is played at Longhorn football games after touchdowns and other points are scored.

In an attempt to deter the Texas Aggies and respond to their “Farmer’s Fight” song at games, Hunnicutt decided to turn their own tune against them by replacing the words of “Farmer’s Fight,” to “Texas Fight” and altering the tempo of “Taps.”