A Long Tradition of Success
The University of Alabama, located in Tuscaloosa, is Alabama’s oldest public university. The university was established in 1820 – just one year after Alabama was admitted to the Union. It has flourished in the decades since.
Alabama’s football program has also flourished. The Crimson Tide have progressed by leaps and bounds – since their quiet beginning in 1902 – under the watchful eyes of several influential head coaches, like Bear Bryant, Gene Stallings, and current head coach Nick Saban.
The Crimson Tide football dynasty started to come together quite early in the program. It had several winning campaigns during its first decade of existence, which was followed by many more decades of winning. Since Nick Saban took the reins in 2007, the squad hasn’t notched more than a few losses each year (with the exception of the 2007 season).
Alabama is one of the winningest college football programs in the country and has enjoyed numerous bowl wins and national championships. The team also captured the second College Football Playoff National Championship when it defeated Clemson after the 2015 season ended.
After spending more than a decade in the Southern Conference, Alabama made its way into the Southeastern Conference (SEC) upon the conference’s founding in 1933. Alabama has remained in the SEC ever since, and now shares its conference with 13 other schools located primarily along the southeastern portion of the country.
In addition to Alabama, the SEC includes Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Texas A&M. Of these SEC teams, Auburn University is one of Alabama’s biggest rivals – with Tennessee and LSU top contenders for that spot as well.
Say Hello to Big Al
The Crimson Tide’s lovable elephant mascot was many years in the making. It wasn’t until 1930 – when a sports writer reported that fans in the stands shouted, “Hold your horses, the elephants are coming!” before the team took the field – that the name stuck. From then on, the linemen were commonly referred to as “Red Elephants” (for the team’s jersey color) in the media.
The university didn’t officially recognize the elephant for nearly another 50 years, however. Coach Bryant (who was also the athletic director when the idea was brought up) wasn’t pleased with the slow, ponderous animal and felt it didn’t represent his players well. But eventually, he gave in. In the late ’70s, the mascot was (officially) born.
Big Al’s debut was one to remember. It was the 1979 Sugar Bowl, and the Crimson Tide made an impressive goal-line stand to win the game against Penn State and capture the university’s 11th national championship. The original costume now resides at the University of Alabama’s Paul W. Bryant Museum.
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