Admit it. You have one, too. Everyone has
some quirky hobby that they keep hidden from everyone else.
C’mon, I know that you like to save Happy Meal toys or
collect sugar packets from restaurants or something equally
eccentric. If it’ll help, I’ll go first.

Brian Schick
Brian Schick

I love college fight songs. No, I really love college fight
songs. It might have something to do with playing hour after hour
of NCAA 2005, with the endless loop of fight songs blaring in the
background. But somewhere in my colorful past, I decided it’d
be worthwhile to learn the fight songs of all the schools the Big

But first things first. To me, the fight song is the one thing
that gets fans excited for their teams. While each individual
fan’s knowledge of his or her squad will vary considerably,
each fan can unite celebrating a touchdown with the chorus of the
school’s fight song — it’s the ultimate unifier
between fans; young and old, students and alumni, casual fans and
die hards.

Players may come and go from a school, but the fight song
remains constant. In the era of marketing taking precedent over
tradition, school logos may change to increase jersey sales
(I’m looking at you, Miami). You don’t often hear of a
school changing their fight song. One of the things NFL players
often require rookies to do is croon their alma mater’s fight
song on the first day of training camp.

As you can see, this is something I take pretty seriously. So
can I make a public service announcement for a second? I always get
annoyed when the Big House crowd boos the band playing the opposing
team’s fight song during the pregame introduction. I’m
not saying I’m pulling for the opposition, but, as a fan of
fight songs, I would at least like to hear it during pregame. Then
I’ll boo with you after they score a touchdown. Thanks.

So anyway, with a critical eye, I’ve decided to settle all
arguments by ranking the fight songs in the Big Ten. I probably
could do all the 117 division 1-A schools (bringing up the rear:
Temple), but that might be a little scary. So, without further

No. 11: Penn State

The 11th team to join the Big Ten also brings up the rear with
“Fight on State.” When you listen to it, it has no
rhythm; the first half has a slow tempo, then suddenly speeds up
half way through. And any song that uses old English
(“victory we predict for thee”) needs to get the

No. 10: Michigan State

As former Daily sports editor Brady McCollough once said, their
fight song sounds like a carnival song. The “Falcone
Fight” (what’s up with that title, anyway?) sounds like
something you’d hear on the merry-go-round. After numerous
discussions with my friends who go to Michigan State, I’ve
never gotten a decent answer to what a “vim” is
(“Spartan teams are bound to win / they’re fighting
with a vim”).

Another gripe I have is that their fight song doesn’t have
a chorus — it’s just one long running story about how
the Spartans “specialty is winning.” The chorus is a
must for fight songs, because who wants to spend two minutes
singing the entire fight song after a touchdown? Also, why does it
seem that the only word that Spartan fans know from this ballad is
“weak” (“see their team is WEAK / we’re
going to win this game”)?

No. 9: Minnesota

I’m not from Minnesota, but I have no clue what
“Ski-U-Mah” means. It sounds like some lame attempt at
an inside joke. Also, I’m not a fan of using cheerleader
shouts in fight songs (“rah for the U of M”). It sounds
like some lame 1950’s version of a high school cheer.
Rah-team, shish-boom-bah! In addition, Minnesota is too long of a
name to spell out at the end of “The Minnesota

No. 8: Illinois

Continuing with the “what-the
heck-did-they-just-say?” category, Illinois comes in with
“Oskee Wow-Wow Illinois.” This might be another thing
that every student learns at freshmen orientation in Champaign:
(“OK freshmen, you must guard the secret of our fight song
with your lives! No one must know it’s just
gibberish!”) It’s not all bad; I like the notion of a
team “trotting out before you.” Women might be a little
upset when the song asks that “every man stand up and

No. 7: Iowa

The Hawkeyes definitely have the “Boy
Scout-approved” fight song of the Big Ten. “On
Iowa” not only cheers the team, but also declares why they
are the best citizens as well (“Love of family, love of
friend / Love of country, too”). Why stop there? Why not
pledge allegiance to the flag? Iowa also has the best fight song
for New Year’s, too (“Ev’ry loyal son will give /
A Rousing toast to you”).

No. 6: Wisconsin

“On Wisconsin” is a great fight song for football,
but, for any other sport, Badger fans have to feel pretty stupid
(“Run the ball clear down the field / Touchdown sure this
time”). “Woo-hoo! We just hit a three-pointer! On
Wisconsin! Touchdown … jump shot … umm …
” However, their stupidity aside, no line better captures the
drama of football like “plunge right through that

No. 5: Northwestern

People in Evanston are really smart, and their fight song
reflects the lack of athletic prowess. “Go U
Northwestern” copies Wisconsin with the weaker version of
“plunge right through that line” with “break
right through that line.” Northwestern always needs to remind
fans that they’re still a Big Ten school by encouraging their
fans to “spread far the fame of our fair name.”

No. 4: Indiana

Hoosier faithful are one of the seven schools in the Big Ten to
declare their allegiance to colors “we will fight for the
cream and crimson” (“Yeah, I cheer for Indiana —
not for the players, but the COLORS!”). “Our
Indiana” shows that Hoosiers all have served their tour of
duty in the army (“In a battle, we’re tried and
true”). But while they have the record for the most
references to their school name (eight times), they get points for
using solid SAT words (“Never daunted, we never

No. 3: Purdue

Michigan isn’t the only school to use “Hail”
in their fight song “Hail Purdue” reminds students that
they’ve been in West Lafayette too long (“Thus we raise
our song anew / of the days we’ve spent with you”).
Purdue students don’t love their school, but just like it
(“our friendship may she never lack”). But the pace of
the song creates a feeling of emotion, but not near the use of
Michigan’s “hails.”

No. 2: Ohio State

As much as it pains me to say it, Ohio State does have catchy
fight songs. The Buckeyes use two different songs during games, one
after a touchdown (“Fight the Team”) and one after an
extra point (“Buckeye Battle Cry”). I’ve always
had a problem with Ohio State referring to itself as just
“Ohio” when that school exists in Athens, Ohio. When
the Horseshoe gets rocking, Buckeye fans can nearly “send the
Earth reverberating.” The tempo evokes big-time emotion as
“the gang’s all here” and might be enough to help
the Buckeyes “win that old conference now.”

No. 1: Michigan

C’mon. Did you expect anything less? I mean, I’m
from Saline and I was born at University of Michigan hospital.
School loyalty aside, “The Victors” is usually battling
Notre Dame’s “Victory March” as the best fight
song in all the land. It’s catchy, it’s easy to learn
and it really gets the blood flowing; the fist punch is the cherry
on the top. “Champions of the West” seems a little
outdated since Michigan has left the northwest territory.
“The Victors” also has the most quotable phrases of any
fight song I know: “Victors valiant,”
“conqu’ring heroes” and “leaders and the

Despite what it might seem, I have respect for all fight songs,
as they all have certain meaning for college fans. But as VH1 has
shown us, you can make anything into a list.

Brian Schick will gladly sing any of the above fight songs
for you, off tune of course. He can be reached at

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *