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Saturday September 8, 2012 "Midnight Yelling" at the Gators

Updated: 12:13pm, September 8

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- The 12th Man checked into the Southeastern Conference loud and clear Friday night.

Saturday morning, actually.

The SEC already had some of the richest tradition in college football, but now roll Texas A&M and its unique game-eve pep rally, “Midnight Yell,” into the fold.

Around 11 p.m. or so Friday, I joined in the hundreds of fans migrated from the bar district from the campus on University Drive -- Dixie Chicken and Fitzwilly’s are the popular spots -- on their way to Kyle Field, where by midnight an estimated crowd of 40,000 had packed the east stands of the stadium and were ready to rock.

Officials said the crowd was about 10,000 more than usual, which says something about the Aggies’ anticipation for the SEC.

And facing the Florida Gators in the conference baptism.

“Did you hear about the fire at the University of Florida?” the main yeller asked. “All the books were burned ... and most of ‘em weren’t even colored yet.”

Corny? Of course. I think George Washington used a version of that one to pump up the troops at Valley Forge.

But three levels of maroon-clad mania, a great band and fight song, the waving and swaying, the “Whoops” and “Howdys,” and those cheerleaders (albeit all male) who must have done a thousand push-ups each during the rally made for quite a show.

Here's how "Yell" works.

The aforementioned yeller offers up one-liners, tells stories and hits cues that prompt yells. Mixed into the conversation, for example, he’ll throw out a number -- “There were 2,014 people there!” or “He walked 2,016 miles!” -- and the students in those respective graduating classes answer with a “Whoop!”

Sometimes the band will play tap a specific rhythm and it's answered with a "Whoop!"

[Note: Patrons can tap that same rhythm on a bar or drivers can honk it on their horn or ... well, you get the idea ... and the answer is a "Whoop!"]

Eventually, Albert the Alligator (even Alberta) became verbal targets, too, with a rambling cornball story mockng the mascot. The kicker?

“We’re gonna beat the hell out of them slimy lizards!”

WHOOP!

Chris at YellThe band played, the crowd jumped, the students yelled, and a good time -- great time, actually -- was had by all.

The “Yell” adjourned after about 30 minutes.

Then it was back to the bars.

Who knows when the Gators will be here again? Certainly not the conference schedule-makers.

So glad I got to experience it (right).

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