Dabo Swinney will never forget Tennessee week from his playing days at Alabama. Why? Because all they heard was “Rocky Top” blaring through the loud speakers repeatedly on the practice field.
“Rocky Top” of course is the fight song for the Tennessee Volunteers and it is played quite often during Tennessee home football games. The song, which was originally a country, bluegrass song performed by the Osborne Brothers in 1967, made its debut at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn., on Oct. 21, 1972, coincidently in the Alabama game.
To this day, Clemson’s head coach still hears it running through his head when anyone even brings the song up.
“See, the third Saturday in October we always played Tennessee and I mean we played ‘Rocky Top,’” Swinney said. “You would walk into the building and ‘Rocky Top’ was playing. You go out to practice and ‘Rocky Top’ was playing.
“It was played so much, we made up our own songs.”
The Tigers can empathize with their head coach. Why? Because every day at practice when Clemson plays Florida State, all they hear is “War Chant,” a Florida State tradition that began in 1983 by a college fraternity who was just having a little bit of fun at the time.
Now, 35 years later, it is the most recognizable chant in college football and it has been known to get under the skin of opposing teams that come to Doak Campbell Stadium. That’s why Swinney wants it to get under his players’ skin during the week so it’s less likely to annoy them during the game on Saturday.
Second-ranked Clemson visits the Seminoles Saturday for a noon kick in Tallahassee, Fla.
“These guys will be carrying this with them for their rest of their life, the ‘War Chant,’” Swinney said. “It is fun, though. We crank it up. Usually, we just have loud music and noise and all of that (at practice), but with these guys every year we always crank up the ‘War Chant.’”
Swinney said this is the fun part of the year. The weather is cooler, it’s Florida State Week, it is a key divisional game, all of it.
“This is what it is all about,” Swinney said. “Yeah, it is getting a little cooler…You can’t get the crown until the leaves turn brown. You put in so much work and you look up and you go, ‘Dang!’ We only got twenty-five days left in our ACC play. That’s it!
“We have been working since Aug. 1 and these guys have grinded all year and now you are right here, we are all in this race and now you are, literally, 24 days now of prep and play of trying to achieve a goal. For us, it is to win the division, so it is a lot of fun to get to this point.”