Despite some rumblings, the organizer of Texas A&M’s Midnight Yell Practice on Wednesday night said he’s not worried about potential protesters among USC fans who might feel upset that the visiting team is taking over the State House grounds.
That’s not the point of Yell Practice, said South Carolina A&M Club president Bill Wood Jr.
“There are very solemn and formal traditions, and there are fun ones like Midnight Yell Practice,” Wood said on Tuesday. “It’s a very light-hearted tradition. It’s not an antagonistic tradition.
“I’ve gotten a couple of e-mails, but they were all polite. Some people asked why, or why there. I’ve got friends that are coming because they think it’s kind of cool. The yells are not aimed at the other team. I hope folks take it that way, and if they do come out, I hope they watch and enjoy.”
Eighteen hours before Thursday’s kickoff between No. 9 South Carolina and No. 21 Texas A&M, all Aggies are invited to the State House to participate in Midnight Yell Practice.
The event will meet on the State House steps to learn their cheers and hand signals before the big game.
“They’re like little peppy yells for your own team,” Wood said. “We sing the fight song, sing the alma mater, then kiss your girlfriend or boyfriend if they happen to be there, and then head back to the restaurants, or wherever.”
The tradition dates to 1913, and 1931 was when Yell Practice as it is known today was first held. Aggie fans gather at Kyle Field before a home game or at designated sites for away games to start preparing for the game.
Wood, A&M Class of ’84, has lived in Columbia since 1990 and been president of the club for nearly that long. Looking for a free, public, central location to meet for Yell Practice, Wood looked out his window at the Meridian Building, and there was the State House.
“The folks at the State House were very accommodating,” Wood said.
USC coach Steve Spurrier has heard about it.
“Didn’t really bother me too much,” Spurrier said at his Sunday press conference. “But I don’t know if we should have given them the state grounds there, the capital grounds, is that where it is? But ... I’ll let the governor worry about that.”