Q&A on the News

Q: Help! I’m a Northerner! What is the meaning of “Roll Tide” and the significance of the pachyderm for the University of Alabama?

—Kathy McDonough, Peachtree Corners

A: “Roll Tide” is a slogan used by Alabama fans and refers to the school’s nickname, Crimson Tide, which was first used by a sportswriter to describe Alabama’s team in a game against Auburn in 1907. That game was reportedly played in muddy conditions, which stained Alabama’s jerseys a deep red color, leading to the nickname. “ ‘Roll Tide’ was said to illustrate the Alabama varsity running on the field. It was said the team looked like the tide was rolling in, thus gaining the chant ‘Roll Tide,’ ” the university’s student affairs website says. It’s also been added to the last line of “Yea, Alabama,” the school’s fight song. The elephant mascot goes back to Oct. 8, 1930, when Atlanta Journal sportswriter Everett Strupper covered Alabama’s game against Mississippi, according to www.rolltide.com, the athletic program’s website. He wrote, “At the end of the quarter, the earth started to tremble, there was a distant rumble that continued to grow. Some excited fan in the stands bellowed, ‘Hold your horses, the elephants are coming,’ and out stamped this Alabama varsity.” Strupper and other writers began referring to Alabama as the Red Elephants because of the team’s crimson jerseys. Alabama (11-1) will play Georgia (11-1) in the SEC Championship game at the Georgia Dome on Saturday.

Andy Johnston wrote this column. Do you have a question about the news? We’ll try to get the answer. Call 404-222-2002 or email q&a@ajc.com (include name, phone and city).

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