'Ol' Rock' mired in relatively new tradition
Published: Monday, June 23, 2008
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 19:07
"I got a little story for ya', Ags!"
This familiar greeting, recited at Midnight Yell, has roots reaching back to 1907, when the tradition of Aggie yell leaders began as a ruse to keep female fans from leaving a football game as the Aggies faced defeat.
Upperclassmen ordered a group of freshmen to don white janitor's coveralls and gather on the field, leading yells to keep the ladies entertained. The yell leaders became so popular that the upperclassmen reserved the position for juniors and seniors.
Harry E. Allen, class of 1934, said he inspired the tradition of Midnight Yell in 1932 when he suggested to "Peanut" Owens that they gather the freshmen outside the YMCA where senior Yell Leaders "Horsefly" Berryhill and "Two Gun" Herman from Sherman, Texas, led an unofficial yell. The tradition has evolved since the unofficial yell in 1932, becoming an official tradition and growing to include the entire school, but still retains many core elements from that first yell.
In October 1959, The Battalion reported that the class of 1960 voted to eliminate fables and jokes from Midnight Yell practice altogether because they had gotten too "spicy," and weren't in keeping with the spirit of Midnight Yell. The outcome was ignored, and stories persist to this day.
Former class president Allen Burns said at the time: "A few years ago, fables were not told by the yell leaders at any Yell Practice. The 'tradition' was introduced at Yell Practice within the last five or six years, and we felt it should be discontinued."
Col. Richard Biondie, class of 1960 and yell leader from 1958 to 1960, doesn't recall the incident, but said the development of the central character of today's fables, Ol' Rock, is a recent phenomenon.
"I don't remember that. I know the fables were being told at least when I was a freshman in 1956," he said. "But I can tell you, Ol' Rock is really new army - he wasn't around when I was a yell leader. We told stories and jokes, but there was no central character."
Lance Martin, class of 2009 and head yell leader, said Ol' Rock isn't based on a real person, but the fables about him are meant to help bring the school together before the game.
"He's definitely a fictional character, but I'm not sure when the stories about him started," he said. "He really represents the ultimate Aggie. The whole point of [fables and Midnight Yell] is to bring Aggies together and get everyone pumped up before the game."
Regardless of when or how they originated, fables centering around Ol' Rock's adventures hold a special place in many students' hearts.
"I love the stories about Ol' Rock because they're part of the [Texas] A&M tradition," said William Cook, a sophomore biochemistry major. "Rock is awesome. He represents what every Aggie should aspire to be."
Nick Tripson, a junior political science major agreed: "The stories about Ol' Rock are my favorite part of Midnight Yell. They're ridiculous and corny, but that's what makes them great."