Does anyone know the origin of the "It's great to be a Michigan Wolverine" cheer? I just saw Bruce Pearl on SportsCenter, in a really bad orange suit and sunglasses, leading a group of fans in a rap version of "It's great to be a Tennessee Volunteer". I was just curious.
"It's great to be a....."
That's Bruce Pearl, who's been the hoops coach at Tennessee since 2005.
I remember after beating OSU the 1997 did it with roses in their teeth. Not sure if that's when it started but that's the earliest I heard it
I first remember hearing it at the 97 game against Ohio St when Zeus Mayes and Woodson came over after the game and started screaming it at the student section. I don't remember it before that point in the two student section seasons I had before that. It's not terribly original but still has a certain chanting mob appeal.
Point of Fact: that chant works for any school with the 6 syllable combo between name and mascot. Other options:
It's also great to be:
- a Washington St Cougar
- a Villanova Wildcat
- a UCLA Bruin
- a Michigan St Spartan
- an Alaska Fairbanks Nanook
- A New Mexico St Lobo
Although weirdly, it just doesn seem to work well for "Connecticut Huskie" although they meet the 6-syllable rule. Perhaps some English or linguistics major can explain this oddity.
It doesn't have to be a six syllable name. It can be modified to work with a four syllable name with "I say..." added on the end of the team name, i.e. "It's great to be a Tennessee Vol, I say it's great..."
I bet it is pretty great to be a New Mexico State Lobo...
For what its worth, the kid that sat in front of me in the student section was from Tennessee, and he explained that the correct way was to say that its great to be a "Tennessee Vol." It always struck me as strange because volunteer seems like it would chant nicely.
They were doing it at University of Florida in the late sixties. It is by no means a "Michigan" cheer.
But I was a Michigan Cheerleader in the late 80's early 90's. In 1989, the cheerleading team went to a UCA national camp where all of the major programs east of the Mississippi attended. (tons of hot girls...wow). Anyway, they taught several dorky cheers during this camp that had not been used at Michigan before.
This particular one was not anyone's favorite. We all thought it was pretty dumb. But we had to do this thing in the competitions, along with every other school at the camp. We decided to start doing it on the walk from Revelli hall to the stadium as the band played a drum cadence. Surprising to me, it stuck. But it also stuck at all these other schools too. So, sorry to break the news, but this was not a Michigan innovation.
I wasn't trying to claim that this was a Michigan original. I really was curious as to its origin. Thanks though.
It's another fine example of the homogenization of college sports.
Next we'll be chanting "We are Mich i gan"
Well, we do own Penn State, so everything that goes with it is rightfully ours
USC does it as well, with "We Are... S.C."
On the plus side, the "Let's Go Blue" tune really is a Michigan original. The hockey band made it up in the 1970s, IIRC.
Joe Carl, Michigan tuba player, wrote it while in the hockey band.
I heard members of the MMB do this chant in the post game celebration on the field after the 1989 Ohio State game.
Except, they chanted "Its great to be a Rose Bowl bound Wolverine."
I would have assumed the chant had been around UM forever until Gerald R Ford's report above. The timeline he gave fits right into my anecdote.
I had heard multiple stories that it originated at Tennessee, but who cares -- "It's great to be a Michigan Wolverine" sounds way better than "It's great to be a Tennessee Volunteer."
Yost wrote the cheer and the clap pattern in his spare time as he hand stitched the original wing helmets himself, invented the color maize, perfected the 3 yards and a cloud of dust offense, decided the #1 jersey would only go to receivers, and leaving a time capsule for Bo to use the phrase those who stay will be champions (although the capsule was intercepted by an Alabama spy before Bo could get it).... All at the same time.
i thought i had heard it started with 'its great to be a miami hurricane' but that doesnt flow very well
This cheer first came to Michigan in 1984. We (the MMB and fans) learned it from Auburn when we played them in the '84 Sugar Bowl. The words they used:
It's great, to be, an Auburn Tiger.
Half their group would actually say, "Auburn Tiger." The other half would say "War damn Eagle," whatever that's supposed to mean.
We in the band repeated the cheer in a mocking manner when no one else was listening, then we used it ourselves the following year. So the 1984 season would be the first year it was used at Michigan. I never liked it since it was an obvious steal, but no one seemed (or seems) to care. The team liked to use it during Carr's early years. I don't know if they still do.
I understand that Auburn got it from Alabama, (it's great, to be, from Alabama) and that they were using it before Tennessee, but I might be wrong.
I think the War Eagle is the name of their fight song. I also think their old mascot was a war eagle.
But I only vaguely recall most of that bowl trip - thanks, Bourbon Street! I remember being somewhat annoyed when the cheer seemed to have been brought back, irony-free, by our cheerleaders at a pep rally the following year before the OSU game (or perhaps homecoming?). It seemed a lame attempt to make UM like other schools. I also think this was the same method that "Big Blue" started to be used. Felt very awkward; "un-Michigan" if you will.
Nothing against cheerleaders, Gerry, just that instance/process.
It's great, to be, a...
Western Kentucky Hilltopper
Illinois Fighting Illinus
Ohio State Buckeye (because it's not)
I've heard that it started at Florida. But the funny thing is, for them it sounds weird because "Gator" only has two syllables. Our version sounds better.
For posterity, seems we all agree that:
1. It's an SEC original.
2. We started using it in the Fall of '84.
I wonder if Woodward and Bernstein started this way?
Well, Florida's version goes,"It's great, to be, a Florida Gator".