More Mississippi State Cowbell? “Those Things Are Awful”


Oct 4, 2014; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs fan rings his cowbell during the game against the Texas A&M Aggies at Davis Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday’s press conference with Auburn head coach football coach Gus Malzahn and the featured Tigers’ players touched on several subjects, from injuries (Patrick Miller is day-to-day) to suspensions (Jermaine Whitehead still is) and homecomings (Shon Coleman playing in his home state for the first time in a long time). But one topic that always seems to come to the top of the list when Auburn faces the Bulldogs – the ever-popular Mississippi State cowbell.

Of course, it wasn’t the first time this week that players discussed Mississippi State cowbells, and their distaste for the noisemakers.

“It’s crazy,” junior wide receiver Sammie Coates said Sunday. “I hate them bells. Their fans are into it, but we’ve just got to block it out and play our ball.”

Whether you’re an Auburn fan or a college football fan, you’ll likely hear the noise plenty this week as well. The Mississippi State cowbell is surely to be featured on this week’s edition of ESPN College GameDay, which visits Starkville for the very first time. Both Auburn and the Bulldogs are 5-0 and ranked in the top three by the Associated Press, which makes the matchup is one of the biggest games of the season.

For the uninitiated, the cowbell is a tradition at Mississippi State, and the noise they create helps Bulldogs’ fans make up for their relatively small numbers. Davis Wade Stadium, in its 100th season in 2014, has been expanded to 61,337 seats. That makes it the third smallest football venue among the 14 schools in the Southeastern Conference ahead of in-state rival Ole Miss (60,580) and perennial cellar dweller Vanderbilt (40,350).

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While no one knows exactly when or why State fans began ringing cowbells at MSU football games, common legend gives credit to a cow for wandering onto the field during a State victory over Ole Miss, and the students adopting the cow as a bit of a good luck charm.  In the 1960s, handles were added to the Mississippi State cowbells in order to make them easier to ring, and they are now available throughout the city of Starkville and the university bookstore in a wide range of designs.

From 1974 to 2010, the cowbells were outlawed by the SEC for conference games. However, the tradition never died, and fans are now allowed to ring their bells until the center approaches the football prior to the snap. It’s a unique sound you won’t find elsewhere (#CLANGA), and it makes for a different environment for visiting players.

“We’re expecting a hostile environment, for sure,” senior tight end CJ Uzomah said Sunday. “Having to listen to those cowbells, I’m sure. I’m going to start doing cowbells in my ears right now to prepare for it because that’s just awful.”