'Roll Tide': What Does Alabama's Rally Cry Mean, And Is It The Most Annoying Slogan Ever?

on January 07 2013 10:00 PM
Alabama
Alabama will play Notre Dame Jan. 7 for the BCS National Championship at Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla. Reuters

Chants of "Roll Tide" are ringing out across the nation as the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish plays out tonight and 'Bama has quickly built a solid lead.

The seemingly ubiquitous slogan is everywhere, and it still means very little to those of us who didn't attend the football powerhouse in Tuscaloosa. For the majority of football fans who don't bleed red, the questions that rears their elephant heads in front of us at times such as these are quite simple: What does "Roll Tide" mean, and is it the most obnoxious slogan of all time?

"Roll Tide" is the official rally chant of the Crimson Tide, and Alabama fans greet one another with the two-word catchphrase throughout the NCAA football season.

The official word on just what "Roll Tide" -- and by extension the Crimson Tide -- means can be found in "Forrest Gump" author Winston Groom's 2002 book on 'Bama football, "The Crimson Tide: An Illustrated History of Football at the University of Alabama."

Grooms first points out that Alabama's football team was originally referred to in newspapers as either "varsity" or the "Crimson White," in a reference to the official school colors.

In 1907, the name "Crimson Tide" came about as follows, according to Grooms:

"The name was supposedly first used by Hugh Roberts, former sports editor of the Birmingham Age-Herald. Roberts coined the nickname to describe the 1907 Alabama-Auburn game, played in a sea of mud. Although Auburn was favored to win, Alabama played well in the red mud and held Auburn to a 6 - 6 tie, thus gaining the name 'Crimson Tide,'" Grooms wrote.

That explains the name of the team, but the slogan is a little more elusive. UrbanDictionary.com, that less-than-official, super-irreverent but always entertaining website, provides the following entry as an introduction to the two-word chant:

"Rally chant for University of Alabama athletics, especially football."

Wiki.Answers.com also provides a less-than-illuminating explanation of the term:

"Roll Tide means the same as Fight On, Don't give up, Keep fighting, never give up, never surrender . and or Just a way to say beat em' pretty much"

Not exactly a doctoral thesis on the topic. It takes a little more digging to figure out just what "Roll Tide" means.

It's best to leave it to Southerners to explain SEC football, and who better than the folks at Alabama's student affairs department to explain the meaning of the saying every true 'Bama fan repeats like a mantra come the final stretch of the college football season:

"The term 'Crimson Tide' was coined by Hugh Roberts, past sports editor for the Birmingham Age-Herald. He used the nickname to describe the 1907 Auburn-Alabama game played in Birmingham," the department's website explains. "The game, played in a sea of crimson mud, was the last game played between the two rivals until 1948 when the series resumed. The term coined because the red mud stained the Alabama white jerseys crimson. Alabama held Auburn, the favorite to win, to a 6-6 tie, gaining the name the 'Crimson Tide.' '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.'"

So that seems to be the final word on where "Roll Tide" comes from. The question still remains as to whether it's the most obnoxious slogan in sports history. We invite you to leave your thoughts on this pressing matter in the comments section below.

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