Alabama Crimson Tide

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Alabama Crimson Tide logo 2002.jpg

Athletic teams at The University of Alabama are known as the Crimson Tide. The school fields teams in 11 varsity sports in the NCAA's Division I and is a member of the competitive Southeastern Conference (Western Division). The school's athletic teams compete at the highest level, often contending for conference and NCAA titles. Athletic facilities on campus include the 92,138-seat Bryant-Denny Stadium, named after legendary football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant and former UA President George Denny, and the 15,043-seat Coleman Coliseum.

Alabama's school colors are crimson and white. Its mascot is the elephant, personified on the field by Big Al.

Alabama maintains athletic rivalries with Auburn University and University of Tennessee. The rivalry with Auburn is especially heated, as it encompasses all sports. The annual Alabama-Auburn game is nicknamed the Iron Bowl and is considered by many the most intense game in all of college football; and second in rivalries only to the New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox rivalry in baseball (as stated in both ESPN The Magazine, and Sports Illustrated).

The Alabama-Tennessee game throughout the decades has many times seen the two best teams in the SEC pitted against one another. The game has traditionally been played on the third Saturday of each October, and thus the rivalry title, the "Third Saturday in October." While the rivalry with Tennessee is centered around football for the most part, there is no shortage of acrimony here, especially given the recent history between UT Coach Phil Fulmer and his relationship to the Tide's most recent NCAA probation.

There are also rivalries with Mississippi State University (baseball and basketball), and the University of Georgia (women's gymnastics).

Crimson Tide traditions

Their are several competing stories about the origin of the name "Crimson Tide" for Alabama's football team.

According to one, the name originated with the 1907 Iron Bowl. Auburn, heavily favored to win, was forced to accept a tie with Alabama after a hard-fought game. Describing the game, one sportswriter described the offensive line as a "Crimson Tide", in reference to their crimson jerseys as they moved down field in the rain.

According to another story, the association of Alabama's football players with red elephants began with the team's trip to the 1927 Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. As the story goes, J. D. Rosenberger, president of Rosenberger's Birmingham Trunk, outfitted each player with a new suitcase with a name tag bearing the company's red elephant logo. Sportswriters greeting the team as they made their way across the country took note of the logo and mistook it for a team symbol. This story is sometimes connected with the trip to the 1931 Rose Bowl. A more detailed tradition holds that Rosenberger had provided luggage tags for the 1926 team and then supplied leather suitcases, paid for the by the University of Alabama Alumni Association to the members of the 1930 team.

Some sources credit syndicated columnist Grantland Rice with coining the phrase "Here come the red elephants of Alabama."

The most accepted version, and the one used by the University's own athletics website, is that at the beginning of Alabama's October 4, 1930 blowout victory over the University of Mississippi Atlanta Journal sportswriter Everett Strupper heard some people in the crowd yell "Hold your horses, the elephants are coming!" as the home team, clad in Crimson jerseys, rushed onto the field. He and other writers took to referring to the "Red Elephants" when describing the exploits of the team.


Most of Alabama's traditions are associated with football.

  • In the 1940s the University kept a live elephant named Alamite as a mascot. The on-field costumed elephant mascot, "Big Al," made his unofficial debut in the 1960s in the guise of Milford Espey. Espey was invited to bring back the character, in an official capacity, for the 1979 season.
  • UA's marching band is called the "Million Dollar Band." The current director is Kenneth Ozzello.
  • Alabama's fight song, "Yea Alabama", was written by Epp Sykes in 1926.
  • On the evening before the homecoming football game, a pep rally is held at which an enormous bonfire is ignited.
  • The day of homecoming, a parade is held that runs straight beside the quad.
  • Before the start of each home game, a pre-game video montage of memorable plays featuring the voice of Bear Bryant is played.
  • After victories over rival Tennessee, the football team enjoys victory cigars.

Popular School Cheers:

  1. "Roll Tide Roll"
  2. "Rammer Jammer" (adapted from the University of Mississippi's "Hotty Toddy" cheer by band director James Ferguson)
    For example, following a victory against Tennessee:
    "Hey Vols! Hey Vols! We just beat the hell out of you! Rammer jammer, yellow hammer. Give 'em hell, Alabama!"


*See main article: Alabama Crimson Tide football.

The Tide's football team, started in 1892, is one of the oldest in the country. The program has won 23 SEC titles and a total of 15 national championships: in 1925, 1926, 1930, 1934, 1941, 1961, 1964, 1965, 1973, 1978, 1979, 1992, 2009, 2011, and 2012. There are also five additional years in which the NCAA's official record book recognizes the Crimson Tide as national champion: 1945, 1962, 1966, 1975, and 1977.[1]

Year Record Championship awards
1925 10-0-0 Billingsley, Boand, Dickinson, Football Research, Helms, Houlgate, National Championship Foundation, Poling
1926 9-0-1 Billingsley, Football Research, Helms*, National Championship Foundation*, Poling
1930 10-0-0 Football Research, Parke Davis
1934 10-0-0 Dunkel, Houlgate, Poling, Williamson
1941 9-2-0 Houlgate
1945 10-0-0 National Championship Foundation
1961 11-0-0 AP, Berryman, Billingsley, DeVold, Dunkel, FB News, Football Research, Helms, Litkenhous, National Championship Foundation, NFF, Sagarin, UPI, Williamson
1962 10-1-0 Billingsley
1964 10-1-0 AP, Berryman, Litkenhous, UPI
1965 9-1-1 AP, Billingsley, Football Research, FW*, National Championship Foundation
1966 11-0-0 Berryman
1973 11-1-0 Berryman, UPI
1975 11-1-0 Matthews
1977 11-1-0 Football Research
1978 11-1-0 AP, FACT*, Football Research, FW, Helms*, National Championship Foundation*, NFF
1979 12-0-0 AP, FACT*, Football Research, FW, Helms*, National Championship Foundation*, NFF
1992 13-0-0 AP, Berryman, Billingsley, DeVold, Dunkel, Eck, FACT, FB News, Football Research, FW, Matthews, National Championship Foundation, NY Times, Sporting News, UPI/NFF, USA/CNN
2009 14-0-0 AP, CS, Dunkel, FW, NFF, USA Today
2011 12-1-0 AP, CS, Dunkel, FW, NFF, USA Today
2012 13-1-0 AP, CS, Dunkel, FW, NFF, USA Today


The football team recently played in its 60th bowl game, more than any other college team (35 wins, 22 losses, and 3 ties) and has had 107 All-Americans honored 125 times. The first All-American from Alabama was W.T. "Bully" VandeGraaff who made the team in 1915. He later served as an Alabama assistant coach and head coach at Colorado College. In 2006, Alabama defeated Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl for their 30th bowl win, an NCAA record.

Alabama quarterbacks won the first three Super Bowls. Notable former Alabama players include Joe Namath, who was the MVP of Super Bowl III with the New York Jets; Ken Stabler, who was the winning quarterback for the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XI; Pat James; Bobby Skelton; Pat Trammell; Steve Sloan; Bart Starr, who was a two-time MVP with the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowls I and II; Johnny Musso and David Bailey, to name a few. The 1980s brought Walter Lewis, Van Tiffin, Bobby Humphrey, Derrick Thomas, Mike Swafford and Cornelius Bennett. The NFL's 2005 Most Valuable Player, Shaun Alexander, played for the Crimson Tide from 1996-1999.

There are currently six former Crimson Tide players enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Only Notre Dame, University Southern California and University of Michigan have sent more of their players to Canton.

College Football Hall of Fame

The Crimson Tide is among the elite college football programs, with 22 members enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Indiana. There are players and coaches from every single decade from the 1920's forward.

Bowl Games

Perhaps the most telling sign of the University of Alabama's football legacy is its bowl game history. No team in NCAA history has appeared in more (60) or won more (35) bowl games. The Crimson Tide made its 60th bowl appearance on January 7, 2013 against the University of Notre Dame in the BCS Championship Game. The 1926 and 1927 Rose Bowls put the Crimson Tide in the nation's headlines, as they were the first team from the Southern United States to win the Rose Bowl, the "granddaddy" of bowl games.

Paul "Bear" Bryant

Main article: Bear Bryant

Coach Paul W. "Bear" Bryant is the name most associated with the Crimson Tide football program. His famous houndstooth hat, and images of him leaning against a goalpost while his players warmed up for a game, are instantly recognizable by football fans everywhere.

It was on December 3, 1958, that Bryant informed his followers at Texas A&M University, where he was then coaching, that he would be accepting the position of head football coach at his alma mater, the University of Alabama. "Gentlemen, I've heard Mama calling, and now I'm going home" he was reported to have said. From 1978 to 1980, Bryant led the tide to 28 straight victories. He had other winning streaks of 19, 17, 12 and 11 victories.

Bryant once said, "Winning isn't everything, but it sure beats coming in second." Under his leadership, rarely did the Tide come in second. Bryant understood that there was more to a player than a strong arm or fast legs. The building of character was essential to the building of a winning team. "Intentions over the years were to help the players to be better persons every day, to help themselves, to teach a lesson on and off the field," he said.

They were lessons not soon forgotten. Kenny "Snake" Stabler, who quarterbacked Bama to a perfect 11-0 season in 1966, recalled when Coach Bryant suspended him during his junior year. "He made me realize what I was throwing away, and he gave me the opportunity to recapture it," Stabler said.

On December 29, 1982, sports history was made and an era ended with Bryant's final game, the Liberty Bowl. It was the same bowl he had taken the Tide to in his first year as head coach, and his final team defeated Illinois 21-15. With 323 career wins, Bryant was the winningest coach in college football history to that point. At Alabama, he tallied to 232 wins, six national championships, and 24 straight bowl appearances.

"I'd probably croak in a week if I ever quit coaching," Bryant once said. He was close — Bryant died 37 days after he coached his last game.

Recent history

Following the death of Bear Bryant, Alabama has had its high points and its low points. Since the retirement of Bryant, the team has had seven different head coaches: Ray Perkins, Bill Curry, Gene Stallings, Mike DuBose, Dennis Franchione, Mike Price, and Mike Shula and most recently Nick Saban. The Tide won its last national championship in 1992 against the University of Miami Hurricanes during the Stallings tenure.

Following Gene Stallings's retirement in 1996, defensive coordinator Mike DuBose was named head coach. He proved to be an excellent recruiter of defensive linemen, though as a head coach he wasn't as effective. He benefited tremendously from the leadership of Shaun Alexander and Chris Samuels, winning the SEC championship in 1999. Expectations quickly rose for the Tide, which started the season as high as No. 3 in some polls. The Tide quickly lowered, ending up 3-8 in a season best exemplified by a last-second loss to University of Central Florida. DuBose was fired and replaced by an up-and-coming coach from Texas Christian University, Dennis Franchione.

The media-savvy Franchione gained popularity quickly with his coaching style and media-friendly press conferences. He led Alabama to two winning seasons in 2001 and 2002, going 7-5 and 10-3, respectively. After NCAA sanctions hit in 2001, Franchione was rumored to be interested in other jobs, including the University of Kansas opening. One year later, under much media scrutiny, Franchione left for Texas A&M. After the well-documented Mike Price fiasco [3], Miami Dolphins quarterbacks coach and Alabama alumnus Mike Shula was hired after a rushed search. It was his first head coaching job at any level. Shula went through many first-year pains, ending up 4-9 after suffering heartbreaking narrow defeats to Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Slight improvement during his second season sent the Alabama Crimson Tide to a 6-6 record and the Music City Bowl, its first bowl in three years. The season started off with great promise as the Tide rolled to a 3-0 start, but ultimately season ending injuries to the entire starting backfield doomed the Tide's chances of any great successes. The 2004 recruiting class was Alabama's first "full" recruiting class since 2001 due to the harsh penalties imposed on the program by the NCAA resulting in the loss of 21 total scholarships over 3 years.

The NCAA penalties were caused by questionable recruiting tactics by an Alabama booster, Logan Young (an alumnus of Vanderbilt University), who was sentenced to three years in prison for paying high school coach Lynn Lang $150,000 to get his Prep All-American defensive lineman Albert Means to go to Alabama. After the investigation was over, in addition to the loss of scholarships, Alabama was banned from bowl games for two years and was put on five years probation. Young later died in his Memphis home. Investigators initially concluded Young was murdered due to the bloody scene, but they ultimately concluded that Young's death resulted from a fall he sustained while walking up the stairs in his home, and foul play was ruled out.

In 2005, Alabama rolled to a 10-2 record including a 13-10 win over pass-happy Texas Tech University in the Cotton Bowl, however, they failed to beat Auburn University for the fourth straight year. The Tide had trouble scoring at times because of a season-ending injury to Tyrone Prothro, Brodie Croyle's best target and because of poor play on the offensive line. They opened the season with a dominating 9-0 record, including beating the rival Tennessee Volunteers, and the Florida Gators by a score of 31-3. A third-ranked LSU team ended their streak with a home defeat in overtime, and the Tide lost to Auburn in the Iron Bowl the next week after the defense surrendered 21 first quarter points.

2006 was a "rebuilding year" that saw the likes of Croyle and DeMeco Ryans replaced with such players as the young John Parker Wilson. It ended in a disappointing 6-7 record overall and 2-6 in the SEC, including losses of eight points or less to conference opponents Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi State, and Auburn. On November 27, 2006, Shula was fired and defensive coordinator Joe Kines was announced as Alabama's interim head coach. Mike Shula finished his career at Alabama as the only Alabama coach ever to lose to Auburn four times in a row.

On January 3, 2007, the university hired Miami Dolphins (and former LSU) head coach Nick Saban to replace Shula. According to published reports, Saban signed an eight-year, $32 million contract with the Tide. Since his arrival, Saban has led the Crimson Tide to SEC championships in 2009 and 2012 in addition to national championships in 2009, 201 and 2012.


Alabama's men's basketball program has been overshadowed for most of its history by football. However, in recent years, the men's basketball program has risen in stature nationally, achieving a No. 1 national ranking briefly in 2002. UA has become a regular conference basketball contender much as it was in the 80's under the direction of Coach Wimp Sanderson. Under former head coach and former point guard Mark Gottfried, the Tide advanced to postseason play for six straight years, culminating in 2004 with the team's advancement into the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. The Tide lost to eventual champion Connecticut in the Phoenix Regional Final.

In 2005 NCAA Tournament, the program received a minor setback when the team lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to eventual Sweet Sixteen participant University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, led by now-Auburn coach Bruce Pearl. In the 2006 NCAA Tournament, Alabama beat Marquette University and advanced to the second round where they lost to heavily favored #2 seed UCLA. Heading into the 2006 season, the Ronald Steele-led Tide were ranked as high as #5 in preseason polls, but suffered a loss on the road at Notre Dame early in the season. Gottfried was fired on January 26, 2009 and was succeeded by Anthony Grant.

After six seasons, Grant was fired and replaced by Avery Johnson.


Alabama also has a winning tradition in baseball. After the 2006 SEC crown, Crimson Tide teams are tied with LSU for the most SEC titles with 14 regular season titles. Alabama also leads the conference with 7 SEC Tournament Championships. [4] Tide baseball teams have participated in the NCAA College World Series five times (1950, 1983, 1996, 1997, 1999), finishing second in 1983 and 1997. The head coach is Jim Wells, who in 2006 became the school's all-time winningest coach.

Former Alabama star Joe Sewell is the only Crimson Tide player elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Women's gymnastics

UA's women's gymnastics team, like the basketball teams, competes in Coleman Coliseum. Coached by Sarah Patterson from 1979 to 2014, the team won six NCAA national titles. Patterson was succeeded by Dana Duckworth, who stepped down in 2022.

Other sports

In addition to the four major sports on campus, the University of Alabama has had success in a number of other sports.

Women's Soccer was a varsity sport from 1986 to 1988, and was revived in 1994. Head Coach Don Staley has been with the program since 1994, having won 121 games at the University and 310 in his career (end of 2005). The team has won the SEC West three times and participated in the NCAA Women's Soccer Championship in 1999. In 2005, senior Libby Probst earned third team All America honors and the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year award after breaking almost every major offensive record in her career at "The Capstone."

Women's Basketball played its first game in 1974 and has been a varsity sport ever since. The team has had seven head coaches, including Rick Moody, who guided the club to the 1994 NCAA Women's Final Four. Stephany Smith was named head coach in 2005. The team went 9-18 in the 2005-2006 season. Former player Dominique Canty went on to play in the WNBA.

Softball has been successful ever since its introduction at the University of Alabama in 1997. The team has won the SEC Conference Tournament three times (1998, 2003, 2005), the SEC Regular Season Championship in 2006, and have been to the NCAA Softball Championship in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma four times (2000, 2003, 2005, 2006). Head Coach Patrick Murphy is also a coach for the Canadian national team.

Volleyball is coached by Judy Green and has been at the University since 1974. Although successful in the 2004 season, finishing with a 21-9 overall record and finishing 2nd in the SEC West, the team still failed to win a place in the NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship. However, a 23-10 record in 2005 was good enough to earn in invite into the tournament for the 2005 season, where the team lost to Ohio University in the first round.

Additional sports at the University include tennis, golf, cross Country, swimming and diving, and track and field. The school has had individual success in all of these sports, including Vladislav Polyakov winning a national title in the 200-meter men's breaststroke in 2005 and placing second in 2006. The University fields separate men's and women's teams in each sport. The University also has two cheerleading squads (The "Crimson Squad" and "White Squad") and a dance team known as the Crimson Cabaret. In addition, women's rowing became a varsity sport starting in the fall of 2006.

Club sports

The University of Alabama through University Recreation also fields a number of club sports of varying degrees of competitiveness, though most compete only with other teams from the southeastern part of the country. The club sports include crew, cricket, cycling, disc golf, ice hockey, lacrosse, racquetball, rugby, soccer, team handball, tennis, Ultimate, wheelchair basketball, water polo, water skiing, and wrestling.

Athletic Academics

The University of Alabama is tied for fifth in the nation for the number of Academic-All Americans since 2000 from all Universities. Amongst BCS conference schools in this category, Alabama trails only Nebraska, Notre Dame, and Penn State.


  • University of Alabama athletics. (2007, January 30). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 14:53, February 1, 2007 [5]

External links