It's less than two weeks until the start of the University of Louisville's 2021 football season. That means it's time for my annual fight song post. So here, in the order of how good or bad they are, are the fight songs of UofL and its opponents (with one honorable mention).
First, there's the stirring song that everyone agrees is the best fight song of all time. It's called Fight UofL, and (as its name indicates) it's the quintessential college fight song. At the university's founding in 1798, it was Ludwig van Beethoven who said, "I wish I'd written that." So with no further ado, here's #1:
Number 2Coming in second is Here's to Wake Forest. I reward originality, so Wake's fight song comes in first among the Cards' opponents this year. This song has a catchy tune with a unique sound, it ranks pretty high every year.
The Eastern Kentucky Colonels are the Cards' lone FCS foe this season. Because of their status in a lower subdivision, you'd think their fight song would rank pretty low. But I've always liked this one, and think it pulls a lot of weight for a program not yet in the big time. Compare it to the fight song of its counterpart in Bowling Green, which couldn't even come up with an original composition.* This video includes both their fight songs, but the ranking is only for the first one. The second one's not bad either.
The Boston College fight song, For Boston, is a classy number with unique lyrics. It moves up about a notch every season, as I learn to appreciate it more and more. Hopefully I'll get tired of it before it reaches any higher, and start moving it down the list again.
I must be getting soft in my old age. Or maybe just nostalgic. I used to rank the Wildcats' fight song close to the bottom. Perhaps the longer I live outside Kentucky, the less accustomed to it I grow. Or maybe I'm worried that the annual Louisville-Kentucky game will end once another round of realignment happens. But anyway, for the first time in the top half of my rankings, here's On, On, UofK (aka On, On, Ashland High).
Though we play Virginia every year, The Cavalier Song is making its first appearance in my rankings. I think technically it's UVA's official fight song. But it's not their main fight song. The song they play to celebrate the rare Cavalier touchdown is called The Good Old Song, so that's the one I've been including in my rankings over the years. Of all the fight songs in the FBS, The Good Old Song is the least original—it's just Auld Lang Syne with different words. So this year I'm cutting Virginia a break, and ranking The Cavalier Song, which comes in at #6 out of 13.
The Syracuse fight song has the dubious honor of being the top song in the second half of my rankings. The Orange always come in right here about the middle of the pack. There's nothing at all wrong with Down the Field. It's a pretty classic fight song... just a bit anemic.
Duke is in the same conference as Louisville, but they're in a different division, so we rarely play them. In fact, I think this might be the Cards' first-ever trip** to Durham for football. The Blue Devils' fight song isn't bad. It has the potential of being ranked as high as #6. But it commits one of two unpardonable sins in my book. No, they haven't borrowed somebody else's tune for their song. But they do make reference to another team in the lyrics. Nobody's more guilty of this than poor Texas A&M, who is utterly obsessed with the Texas Longhorns. And then there's Alabama and Kansas who mention several different teams in their lyrics. And Duke can't keep from going to Carolina in their mind—it matters not if they're playing Pittsburgh, Miami, or (in this case) Louisville. So they're #8.
Ole Miss's fight song is okay. Nothing to write home about. It's ranked #9 mostly because it's no better or worse than several others, but, all things being equal, I will always rank the ACC above the SEC. By the way, this is the first-ever game between Louisville and Ole Miss. It's our season opener, and it's being played in Atlanta.
There's nothing more stirring in college football than the Clemson band playing the Tiger Rag. Even I can't help but love it. But I also cant ignore the fact that the Tiger Rag is just a song Clemson borrowed and made its fight song. And so, as I do every year, I rank Clemson near the bottom because of their complete lack of originality.
Like Clemson, annual ACC Atlantic Division foe NC State has a great fight song. The tune couldn't be more rousing and memorable. In fact, it's too memorable. When you hear it, it's impossible to forget that the Wolfpack borrowed their fight song from the U.S. Army (The Army Goes Rolling Along). Sorry, NC State, that means you're ranked pretty low.
Here's a song I wish I didn't have to include in this year's rankings. Why we agreed to play this game, I'll never know. The University of Central Florida calls its team the something (I can't be bothered to look it up) Knights, but they should rightfully be referred to as the Upstart Crows. Their fight song is about as original and interesting as the college it represents. It's just a mishmash of themes glued together to create a tune. Most glaring is the bit they downright stole from Auburn's War Eagle. So with all due respect (that being none) here's the penultimate fight song in this year's rankings:
As always, Florida State's fight song pulls up the rear. Though they boast that the actual Seminole people aren't bothered by the fact that FSU has coöpted their name and symbols, I find the whole thing offensive. And nothing's more racist than the words of their fight song which include lines like, "FSU is on the warpath now," and "You've got to scalp 'em Seminoles." And so, in last place, we have this little number from the college sports hall of shame:
Though it's not a principle fight song, Louisville's Hail UofL has to be included in this list. If it were the main fight song, it'd be ranked first or second, of course. But the Cards are blessed with an embarrassment of musical riches, so here's an honorable mention.
*Western's fight song is Stand Up and Cheer, which they share with about a dozen other colleges (and a million high schools). It's original to Kansas, however, where it's still used as a secondary fight song.
**I'm wrong about this. I remember now that we had a home-and-home series scheduled with Duke almost 20 years ago. We played the first game in Durham, but before the game that was scheduled for Louisville, the Blue Devils backed out of the series. The only other time we've played Duke was after we joined the ACC. That game was a home game for the Cards and was played in 2016. Our record against the Blue Devils, by the way, is 2-0.