Image from Pexels.

Image from Pexels.

Anywhere from sports, to Nobel Prizes, to the sole fact the other exists, college rivalries get fans riled up all across the nation. We polled the TP staff and friends for their favorites…I’ll try to stay away from bias,  though if I am, you’ll definitely know it. I love college rivalries, I grew up with them, I stay loyal to them, and heaven knows why…honestly, one of the “cons” I listed between schools I was deciding on was that one didn’t have any sort of rivalry (Sorry…not at all sorry.).

From East Coast to West Coast, here’s a just a snippet of how intense, hilarious, and fun college rivalries can get.

Texas A&M and UT Austin

You know your rivalry is intense when state legislature gets involved. Last year, as TP college writer Aida Guhlin explains, Texas A&M “left the Big [Twelve conference] and thus don’t play football games with UT anymore…and as a result, our state government introduced a bill to reinstate a game between the two schools.”

The bill reads as follows:

“The intercollegiate football teams of The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University shall annually play a nonconference, regular-season football game against one another.
(b)  If The University of Texas at Austin or Texas A&M University refuses to play the football game required by Subsection (a) in a year, the university may not award to any student for the following academic year an athletic scholarship, grant, or similar financial assistance funded with state money and conditioned on the student’s participation on the university’s intercollegiate football team.”

Yes, you read that right: If the bill passed, and either school refuses to play the rivalry game, they are – by law – not allowed to continue athletic grants/financial aid with state money.

Don’t mess with Texas?

Image from Flickr.

Image from Flickr.

Duke University and University of North Carolina

Another intense rivalry is between Duke and UNC Chapel Hill, based in “The Triangle” of North Carolina. The rivalry runs year round, from football to basketball; from cheers to puns.

At UNC games, Duke cheers “Go to hell, Carolina, go to hell”, which TP college writer Conrad Jeong details is probably “some reference to the fact that [their] mascot is the Blue Devil.”

A freshman at Duke, and part of the marching and pep band, he continues, “Our stadium is called Cameron, we have the ‘Cameroncentric Theory of the Universe” (self-explanatory), and we call ourselves Cameron Crazies”. The Cameron Crazies go all out all year, but especially during K-Ville: a literal campout during the season for games, chosen by lottery and requiring major dedication. This is still during classes and a packed event nonetheless.

In the past ten years, the rivalry has been ranked the second best rivalry overall, and best basketball rivalry in the nation by Sports Illustrated On Campus. It even draws the attention of President Obama, who chose UNC for victory in his 2009 March Madness bracket!

The allegiance people have to their alma maters is surely life long, as seen in Ian Williams’ (UNC ’90) January 1990 column, and follow up seventeen years later:

Why I Hate Duke (Jan 1990)

“So this is my request, boys of basketball: Tonight, I not only want you to win, I want Krzyzewski calling home to his mother with tears in his eyes. I want Alaa Abdelnaby to throw up brick after brick. I want Rick Fox to take Christian Laettner to the hoop so many times that poor Christian will be dazed on the bench with an Etch-a-Sketch and a box of Crayola crayons. I want Bobby Hurley to trip on his shoelaces and fly into a fat alumnus from Wilmington. Send Thad and Lorna home with their blue tails between their legs.

God bless them Tar Heel boys!”

Why I Still Hate Duke (2007)

“When [‘Why I Hate Duke’] ran, I thought my friends would disparage the obviousness of it – writing a column about hating Dook? Jesus, that’s like shooting barrelfuls of cod! Instead, the column ended up on refrigerators across the Piedmont, and it taught me two lessons. First, don’t overthink your duties; and second, never underestimate the hatred for Durham Clown College.”

Image from Flickr.

Image from Flickr.

MIT vs. Caltech

Virtually all rivalries are local – aforementioned Duke/UNC are 10 miles apart – yet MIT and Caltech seem to stop at nothing to get at each other.

In the spring of 2005, a group of “[Cal]Techers hopped on planes” – to their rival over 2,500 miles away, and pranked the prefrosh weekend:

“The prank included a laser show displayed on MIT’s tallest building, a Caltech blimp lifted high into the rafters of the MIT Great Dome, a sign draped over the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sign that made it read ‘That Other Institute of Technology,’ and the best of all: 1,000 free t-shirts passed out to the unsuspecting prefrosh. The front of the shirts read: ‘MIT.’ The back: ‘Because Not Everyone Can Go To Caltech.'”

TP college writer Richard Peay fills us in: even the Caltech Alumni Association is all for the pranks, and chronicles key pranks from the rivalry’s history here.

On the flipside, MIT loves pranks too (or as appropriately denoted: “hacks”). At the 2005 Caltech prank, MIT responded quickly to the banner reading “That Other Institute…” to “The Only Institute of Technology”.

MIT and Caltech feel like siblings that tease each other, and nothing reminds me more of that than the 2010-2011 TARDIS prank. MIT hackers installed a TARDIS on a rooftop at home for freshman orientation, where it resided for a while until reappearing cross-country on a Caltech rooftop; a few weeks later, it showed up on a UC Berkeley roof, and then reappeared months later on top of a Stanford University engineering building (Four for you, MIT! You go, MIT.).

The TARDIS at Caltech, UC Berkeley, and Stanford University between January - March 2011.

The TARDIS at Caltech, UC Berkeley, and Stanford University between January – March 2011.

I am totally not biased...

I am totally not biased…nope. Not at all. (Oh, and they did beat Cal that game. WHOO.)

Stanford vs. UC Berkeley 

I have long standing family ties to Stanford, so I’ll make it clear now…STANFORD FOREVER AND EVER AND NOTHING YOU CAN TELL ME WILL EVER CHANGE THAT. I actually had to ask a friend if it’d be frowned upon to bring my plethora of Stanford gear to college (at Fordham University). She said yes. I sighed deeply and left them out of my suitcase (However, I’ve seen three UC Berkeley shirts on campus in the last two weeks and I’m now seriously thinking of asking my parents to send me those shirts…).

Every year comes the Stanford vs. Cal football game: The Big Game. The whole week leading up to the huge event is Big Game Week, featuring the following:

  • At Stanford: all the fountains dyed crimson (the school color), teddy bears speared – one on the famous “Claw” fountain (which is also, appropriately, blood red), the Big Game Whistle blown every hour until the game (even through the night), sponsored by the Axe Committee.
  • At Cal: Sather Tower (the campanile) lit up with logos and dressed up all week, the “largest bonfire west of the Mississippi” the night before the game, “Get the Red Out” – where students “rid themselves of any red clothing they may have accidentally brought to Cal” with a canned food donation, for a blue and gold shirt.

Both schools host events every day of Big Game Week, selling shirts (like Cal’s “Stanfurd Sucks”), various gear, hanging huge signs, and of course, cheering their alma mater at the game. Each has at least one group going to the other campus, wearing opposing spirit wear, and stealing back and forth the famed Axe.

Outside of Big Game week, I remember hearing family talk about the not-so-subtle scorekeeping each school keeps on how many Nobel Prizes it has over the other (No, I’m not even remotely kidding.). The two are like “frenemies”, and actually partner up academically on occasions.

Big Game Week, October 2012

Big Game Week, October 2012

With football season upon us, keep an eye out for all the rivalries across the nation, and as a rivalry-fanatic myself, I say go all out for your alma mater’s! You won’t regret it.

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the author

Jo is in her first year of studying biology at Fordham University, with interests in the social sciences, business management, and world domination. Recently returned to New York from 12 years in California, you'll most likely find her adventuring around the city. Residences include the science and humanities departments, running trails, and every coffee shop from here to Narnia. Nobody’s quite sure if she has a heart, but she’s got some sort of pump that moves around the black sludge that is espresso through her veins.

5 Readers Commented

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  1. Conrad Jeong on September 9, 2013

    That Anti-Duke article hurt me. Just a little. (Still love you though, kind of)

  2. Fatou on September 10, 2013

    Come on! You can’t do college rivalries without the biggest rivalry in the PAC12. WSU vs. UW!

    Lol WSU beat USC this Saturday and they STILL canted “F*** the Huskies” Like they do at every game even though they’re not playing them. Great article!

  3. KS on January 7, 2014

    No Ohio State vs. Michigan? The number 1 sports rivalry in North America, not just in college football but ALL sports. Seriously?!

    • Joanna Flores Author on January 7, 2014

      Hey KS,

      Obviously this isn’t a comprehensive list, or one made of any particular order, other than the fact that these are the ones I and my fellow staffers have knowledge about. We wouldn’t want to write anything we had no experience or particular familiarity with!

      Thanks for reading though!

  4. Christine Fulgham on April 20, 2014

    The College of William & Mary vs University of Virginia

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