Talons & Traditions
Talons Turn 50
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Talons, the university's student sprit organization with the mission to preserve Mean Green traditions. Senior Michael Maher, now in his second year as Talons president, made it his goal to revitalize the tradition of the Pit Crew, the official student section of Mean Green basketball. Finding an old '70s basketball uniform in the Talons' storage became his impetus for creating a Super Pit character known as "Mullet Man," "Short Shorts" and "The Mulleteer" — a basketball player with a green mullet wig and cowboy hat.
Maher, who took his character on the road to New Orleans in 2007 for the men's trip to the Big Dance, says, "I will take my pride to any level." He also is developing characters for other sports.
Maher says the Talons perpetuate UNT's history of pride and longstanding traditions.
"We all go to the sporting events together; it's our love for the university and the traditions that we have — the cannon, the bell, the tower — that keep our spirit high."
Mean Green traditions include:
Alma Mater — The song "Glory to the Green and White," with music by Julia Smith, who played saxophone in the college band, and lyrics by Charles Langford, was adopted as the alma mater in 1922. At football games, the Green Brigade plays the alma mater pre- and post-game as the crowd sings along with Eagle claws waving.
Boomer the Cannon — The modern cannon is a scale replica of a model used in the U.S.-Mexican War and is the only smooth-bore muzzle loader (loaded from the front using black powder) on a college campus. Boomer is fired at special campus events and at football games to signal scores.
Eagle Claw — The Eagle hand sign is the Mean Green Nation's universal sign of pride and unity. Curl the thumb and index and middle fingers forward. The ring and pinkie fingers stay closed against the palm.
Fight Song — Alumnus Francis Stroup ('29) wrote the fight song, "Fight, North Texas," in 1939 after the university held a contest. He helped revise the lyrics after the name of the school changed to the University of North Texas. At football games, the Green Brigade plays "Fanfare" after touchdowns and the fight song after every extra point. The band also plays the fight song after every successful field goal.
First Down Response — After the football team makes a first down, the announcer says, "That's good for another Mean Green …" and the crowd responds "FIRST DOWN" while making the referee's first down signal.
Green Brigade Post-Game Concert — The band's traditional concert after football games includes the alma mater and "You'll Never Walk Alone." Fireworks shows have also become a part of post-game activities.
Friday Night at Clark Park — Each Friday night before home football games, a UNT pep rally featuring live music, cheerleaders, dancers, the marching band, football players and coaches takes place in Clark Park on the corner of Highland and Avenue C to kick off the weekend's festivities.
Homecoming Bonfire — Members of Talons build the fire, which is lit the Friday night of Homecoming near the Athletic Center. The tradition of the bonfire began in the 1930s.
Homecoming Parade — Held the morning of the Homecoming game, the parade includes floats made by students, faculty, staff and alumni. The route runs from campus to downtown Denton and back.
Lighting McConnell Tower — After a victory by a UNT athletic team, green floodlights bathe the Administration Building clock tower to signal the victory to the campus and community.
Mean Green March — Two hours before the kickoff of each home football game, a parade including the Green Brigade Marching Band, the UNT dancers and cheerleaders and the Mean Green football team begins at Traditions Hall and ends at the football locker room.
Mean Green Nickname — Although green has been the school color since around 1902, the Mean Green nickname dates from the late '60s when the football team's defense was dominating other teams. One of the outstanding players at the time was "Mean" Joe Greene ('69).
Model A — The Talon car is a green 1929 Ford Model A Tudor Sedan built in 1931. It was donated to UNT by alumnus Rex Cauble ('74). The Model A, also known as the Green Machine, is driven by the Talons Cannon Crew at home football games, parades and other special occasions. This fall it debuted a new two-tone black and green paint job.
Official Class Ring — Unique to UNT, the official ring portrays our Eagle mascot, university seal and the McConnell Tower. The two clock faces show different times – one o'clock for the internationally recognized One O'Clock Lab Band, and seven o' clock noting the 1892 curfew for students of Texas Normal College and Teacher Training Institute.
Pride Day — Students, faculty and staff wear green each Friday on campus to show their university pride.
Scrappy the Eagle Mascot — Students in a 1922 campus election chose the eagle over the dragon and lion as the college's mascot. In the '60s, a costumed Scrappy began appearing at games and other events. The mascot was renamed Eppy in 1974 by students who thought the name "Scrappy" was too warlike. However, Scrappy was reborn in 1995, when it was decided the first name was better.
Spirit Bell — Brought to Denton from Michigan in 1891, the 2,000-pound bell was originally used to signal class changes and evening curfew. It served as a sound of victory for many years until a crack was found within. The Talons dedicated the original bell to the university in 1982, and it was placed in the University Union. The bell's 1600-pound successor can be heard at any home football game ringing with pride.
Tailgating — Tailgating parties have become popular events before games. Individuals and organizations gather for food, fun and spirit building.
University Seal — Atop the seal is the lamp of learning, burning with an eternal flame representing academic achievement and excellence. The beveled lone star in the center symbolizes the great state of Texas.