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Strengthening the Rutgers Fan Identity

The Case for a College Yell

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

For those who know my writing, you know I’m a writer for Off Tackle Empire, SB Nation’s Big Ten Conference site, but I come to you as a guest exclusively here at On the Banks, for something that is 100% Rutgers driven for Rutgers fans.

So I graduated from Rutgers in 2016. Those who know a little bit about me know that I was a dedicated four year member of the Rutgers Marching Scarlet Knights. As a marching band member, the largest spirit-oriented organization at Rutgers, Scarlet Knight spirit was ingrained in my soul. I knew all of the chants, all the traditions, and I still bleed Scarlet. Graduation has unfortunately shown me, however, that not a lot of Rutgers Alumni and Fans have this same background in spirit and that is partially because of, what I believe to be Rutgers’ lack of major identity when it comes to chants, traditions, yells, slogans, and hashtags that fans use.

The rudest awakening to this unfortunate observation started this year when I enrolled at the University of Southern California for Graduate School. USC has one of the most recognizable brands in college athletics. “Fight On,” and the V for victory hand symbol (peace sign) is iconic. It’s something that USC fans and alumni have that is recognizable and always responded to. I was going out to Nevada in a USC-marked vehicle for field work and someone honked at us, we looked right, and saw the driver doing the Victory hand symbol and yelled, “Fight On!” out the window. I get a “Fight On!” whenever I wear my USC shirt or hat out in public. I’ve become so jealous that Rutgers doesn’t have some well-known saying or gesture I could use when I see a Rutgers fan in public.

Another situation that made me realize Rutgers is missing something is when I went to watch Rutgers Football games with the Rutgers Club of Southern California this season. In the sports bar where we watched the games, there are several separated areas with TV’s. The Oklahoma fans came out in DROVES for their watch parties at this same bar in the bigger area. Then, when their team did something yell worthy, one loud guy would get up on a chair and yell, “BOOMER,” and receive a hearty “SOONER,” from everyone in response. Now of course, Rutgers has our “RRRRRRRR-UUUUUUU,” chant, however, unless I was in a sports setting with a good amount of people, I have never been in a situation where I felt I could yell “RRRR” and receive a “UUUU” back. These Rutgers fans below feel the same:

Whereas a Sooner on the street could yell “Boomer” to someone on the other side of the road wearing Oklahoma gear and absolutely get back “Sooner.” In any context— sports, concerts, malls, grocery stores, etc. And this is the case for tons of iconic college yells. This example below was also shared in the Rutgers Football Facebook page.

While I was a student I remember this instance when I was in the band during a Rutgers home game vs Ohio State. We were on one of the band buses relaxing before the game. A couple of Ohio State fans in bright OSU gear walked by the bus and to “mess with them,” we yelled, “O-H!” and without any hesitation at all they responded with an enthusiastic “I-O!” before looking around confusingly for the source of the "O-H!" We laughed, but deep down inside I was kind of envious that they have that.

Rutgers does not currently have something you can yell that will garner a guaranteed, consistent response, we just don’t. There is something about "RRRRRRR-UUUUUUUUU" that for a reason I couldn't previously articulate, doesn't feel like it's in the same category as these short and sweet "yells." Then, a conversation on Twitter with dedicated Rutgers fan @kfine39 brought this link to my attention. A link with a list of college yells. It hit me then as I read through the long list of famous yells, from "Go Cats!" and, "Hook 'em," to, "Go Dawgs," and "Roll Tide," a list that, in spite of Rutgers' old age and role in the first game of College Football, Rutgers was not on....

...We need a college yell!

Now I know people will still argue with me that “RRRRRRR-UUUUUUUU” is our chant/yell, and is traditional, and is good enough. I would have to disagree. Let me preface this disagreement, however, by saying I think that, "RRRRRR-UUUUUU," is great (when done RIGHT [slowly]) and I would NEVER argue to get rid of it. I’m saying that (1) it is not in the style of a college yell, (2) isn't exactly "iconic," (3) that I and others have been in situations where we have awkwardly yelled, “RRRRRRR” and received silence, and (4) it seems to be better for a setting with a large amount of Rutgers Fans. The Rutgers Club I was with for game watches didn’t do the “RRRRRR-UUUUU” once this season, our numbers were just too small. A good college yell should be able to be done by ONE person and still sound cool. We need something else, something in addition to this. "RRRRRRR UUUUUUU," is more akin to, "OOOOOOO-HHHHHHHHH-IIIIIIIIIIIII-OOOOOOOOOO," that OSU does stadium-wide. We need something similar to, "OH!-IO!" and that is all Rutgers, not just our school’s acronym. Tons of schools have their acronyms incorporated into their chants, but also another more unique one to supplement it.

Some famous college yells that I could think of off the top of my head, before I even read the list in the link above are Michigan’s, “Go Blue!” Penn State’s “We Are!” USC’s “Fight On!” Kansas’, “Rockchalk, Jayhawk,” Nebraska’s, “Go Big Red!” and Oklahoma’s “Boomer Sooner.” Now, one could argue that winning is what cultivates these kind of traditions, but I also disagree with that. After all, Kansas is on that list, and that full list of College Yells, which I’ll link here again, has tons of non-elite programs with iconic/distinctive yells.

There is nothing that Rutgers currently has, no matter how good we get at all sports that would EVER wind up on any list of top college chants/yells. So I started thinking. What is something Rutgers has, that is known by the fans, that can be easily made into something more iconic? Something that can be easily taught in a single spirit rally, game, fundraising event, or tailgate? I thought, “Well all Rutgers fans know the Fight Song chant,” but the full chant is too long to be used as a short identifiable yell. So what’s the most unique part of the chant?

R-U Rah! Rah!

R-U Rah! Rah!

Hoo-Rah, Hoo-Rah

Rutgers, Rah!

Upstream, Red Team

Red Team, Upstream

Rah, Rah, Rutgers Rah!




My goodness do I love this line in the chant. Moving upstream is a challenging task to undertake and this line in the Fight Song signifies that Rutgers, our "red team," is always up for the challenge. It’s a struggle and a fight to move upstream. Isn’t that what defines Rutgers? Struggle and a fight in our path and desire to be great.

It is also distinct and unique to Rutgers. I can't think of any other school that incorporates “upstream” into their chants and fight song (I Googled).

I made the case on Twitter after someone in the Rutgers Football group said I should campaign:

Rutgers desperately needs and deserves that, “What to say when you see someone in a Rutgers shirt,” thing. After all, we played in the first college football game. Why we don’t have an iconic college yell already is really so strange. And for anyone who might argue that, “you can’t just start a tradition,” or, “these things have to happen naturally,” EVERY single “tradition” had a start. It was started with an idea or an action that caught on. The third down air guitar? That was started by a band member. The most famous NEW tradition in College Football, Iowa fans waving to the Children’s Hospital, was started LAST YEAR. Even “RRRRRRR-UUUUUUU” as I understand it is pretty young relative to the football program.

The point is, if you want something to become “tradition,” all you need is an idea, support for the idea, and wide dispersal of the idea.

Below is some support for UPSTREAM RED TEAM that’s already been shown, and of course these don’t include the growing number of silent support via Retweets and Favorites.

#UpstreamRedteam for all sports sounds like a great idea. USC and Penn State use #FightOn and #WeAre respectively for all their stuff too. Nice and unified across all athletics. Something Rutgers has never had.

And this is from a Michigan State fan:

Let’s make this happen, Rutgers Fans.

A call and response College yell is the best kind of College yell. A Rutgers Fan yells “UPSTREAM!” a Rutgers fan responds, “RED TEAM!” and repeat.