Big Yell expounds upon mysterious UT traditions

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Freshman Chris Akin raises the Hook ‘Em Horns while he and others sing the Eyes of Texas during Wednesday’s Big Yell event in the SAC. The Big Yell is hosted by the Texas Exes to teach UT songs, history and traditions to new students.

Photo Credit: Thomas Allison | Daily Texan Staff

From the first UT yell to the school’s choice of burnt orange, the Big Yell on Wednesday offered insight into school traditions and separated fact from UT myth.

Each fall the Texas Exes Spirit and Traditions Council hosts the Big Yell to highlight historical origins of UT’s school spirit traditions. This year, the program took place in the Student Activities Center ballroom and included door prizes, a brief history of the early years and traditions of UT and lessons in all of the UT yells that have existed since the University’s first football team was established in 1893.

The event included a musical performance by the Texas Spirits, who sang a song to the tune of “Summer Nights” from Grease about UT traditions and the football season. Advertising junior Erica Flores and five other officers of the Spirit and Traditions Council opened the event.

“I hope everyone is as excited for this year and Big Yell as we are,” Flores said.
The Texas Lassos, the Texas Hellraisers, the Orange Jackets and other campus spirit organizations came together Wednesday night to teach students about their school and some old-school cheers to pull out this football season.

The first UT yell, written in 1892, reads “Hullabaloo! Hoo-ray! Hoo-ray! Hullabaloo! Hoo-ray! Hoo-ray! Hoo-ray! Hoo-ray! ‘Varsity! ‘Varsity! U.T.A!”

The University was referred to as ‘varsity in the yell because in the late 19th century when the university opened, it was commonplace to shorten University to “‘varsity”, said event host Jim Nicar, director of campus relations for the Texas Exes.

Texas A&M University was referred to as “the college” when that yell was still in use, Nicar said.

The school’s burnt orange and white colors were first determined when two football players desperate for school spirit ribbons took what the manager of a general store had the most trouble selling, Nicar said. He said they went through changes, including a burnt orange and maroon phase but eventually returned to burnt orange and white.

UT’s first live Longhorn mascot was served for dinner before a football game in the early 1920s, and Bevo was named by a magazine, not because of a practical joke by the Aggies, Nicar said.

“In reality, the very first football game that was ever on the campus was the fall of 1883, the very first semester UT was open,” he said. “There wasn’t anybody to play because it was 1883, so we challenged a local private high school, and we lost. We don’t talk about that game very much.“

Math and economics sophomore Roger Hung attended Big Yell last year and said the program provided insight into traditions. His favorite part was learning what myths weren’t true, how the yells changed over the years and all about UT traditions, he said.

“I came [to school] here last year and school spirit wasn’t that big,” he said. “This year, it’s before the year starts, and I can already tell school spirit is going to be so big. I came here to support the school spirit.”

Printed on August 25, 2011 as: Big Yell salutes school spirit