The History Behind Mississippi State Cowbell Tradition
The cowbells are an unavoidable Mississippi State tradition, one that dates back to sometime between 1930 and 1940 when — no one is quite sure of the exact date — a Jersey cow wandered onto the field when Mississippi State was playing archrival Ole Miss. Mississippi State triumphed. The students promptly adopted the Jersey as a good luck charm. And gradually Bulldogs fans began bringing cowbells to games.
A couple of Mississippi State professors came up with the idea of welding handles to the top of the cowbells to make them easier to ring. By 1964, the Mississippi State bookstore began offering cowbells for sale. And as years passed, the ringing at home games seemed to get louder and louder and louder.
This was all to the chagrin of Mississippi State’s opponents, especially their member institutions of the SEC. By 1974, legendary Auburn coach Shug Jordan had had enough. He sent a handwritten letter complaining about the cowbells to the conference office. And just like that, starting in 1975, the league banned artificial noisemakers, including cowbells.
Banned but not forgotten, of course. Mississippi State fans kept finding ways to sneak their beloved cowbells into Davis Wade and other stadiums to make their tradition heard. Why in 1981, a Mississippi State professor filed a civil suit against Auburn for confiscating his cowbell when he was entering Jordan-Hare Stadium.
All along the way, Mississippi State argued that cowbells were different. There was nothing artificial about them. They were a part of the university. Why it is customary for Mississippi State fans to receive their first cowbell as a gift, perhaps from their parents, or an alum.
“What’s your identity?” former Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherrill (1991-2003) asked Saturday Down South. “When you think of Mississippi State, you think cowbells.”
Finally, in 2010, the league relented. It ruled that for a oneyear probation period, Mississippi State fans could ring the cowbells during pre-game, timeouts, halftime and after Mississippi State scores. The fan base passed the probationary period and the cowbells have been a staple at Davis Wade ever since, even to the point where the league now only prohibits the ringing of the bells “from the time the offensive center is over the football until the play is whistled dead.”
Not that everyone is happy about it. Mississippi State opponents still must deal with that crescendo of clanging, something you don’t hear at any other stadium. Get your bell at www.Cowbells4U.com