MSU community celebrates a history of traditions

Children eat cotton candy and talk with the MSU mascot at the Super Bulldog Weekend football game.

Established in 1878, Mississippi State University is full of incredible history and tradition. Campus statues, stadiums and even sidewalks tell stories of past students, professors and events which have shaped the university into what it is today. It seems like everyday one can discover a new tradition or story written into the campus, but there are those that remain most popular.

It is pretty obvious that the mascot is the bulldog, as there are statues all over campus celebrating the mascots of years past, but many do not know where the idea for the mascot originated. Like most symbols and traditions at Mississippi State, there is a story behind the beloved Bully. According to, the official website of Mississippi State Athletics, it all started as a result of a Mississippi State football game against rival Ole Miss on November 30, 1905. The game resulted in a Mississippi State victory, and newspapers reported the aggressive play by the maroon team as a “bulldog” style of play. The label stuck, and by 1961, the English Bulldog was declared our official mascot.

Along with our mascot, Mississippi State adapted a tradition like no other. The official campus website describes the cowbell as, “the longstanding visual and auditory symbol of Mississippi State pride,” and if you have had the pleasure of hearing one yet, it is a sound like no other. The bulldog football team originally played near a cow pasture, where one day a cow actually wandered onto the field during a game. The game ended in a win, prompting students to bring a cow to the following games for good luck. Eventually, students began to bring just the bell of the cow to the games, starting a long-lasting tradition. In the 1960s, two professors welded a bicycle handle to the top of the cowbell, creating the cowbell carried by Mississippi State fans today. According to the tradition, someone else has to buy a student their first cowbell, inciting the spirit of friendship and family that runs deep on this campus.

There are also multiple events hosted by various parts of the Mississippi State community that are woven deep into our school’s history. One of these events is The Drill. This event dates back to 2004. “(The Drill) is a pep rally held to welcome new and returning students to campus, as well as raise excitement about the upcoming athletic seasons,” states the Alumni Association website, a group that co-sponsors the event with the Student Association. The name of this event pays homage to the military history of our university and usually takes place on the Drill Field during the first week of class in August. The spirit squads, Famous Maroon Band and Student Association executives lead the bulldog community in cheers with the fight song and welcoming words as they excite the crowd about the new school year.

Another great event is Super Bulldog Weekend. This event usually takes place in the month of April and is comparable to a spring homecoming. It usually features various events in the Starkville community, an SEC baseball match up in the iconic Dudy Noble Stadium, the spring Maroon vs. White football game and more. Alumni, parents, students and community members all come to campus to celebrate the university and city of Starkville, creating that familiar atmosphere that Mississippi State fans have become so familiar with.

If you do not own a cowbell, have not attended a game in Dudy Noble Stadium or still do not quite understand what The Drill is, do not fret. New students will experience all of these traditions soon enough, but until then: welcome to the bulldog family!

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