published Monday, December 17th, 2012

Explaining the Alabama elephant

COUNTDOWN TO SHOWDOWN

In the 25 days leading up to college football's championship game between No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 2 Alabama at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, the Chattanooga Times Free Press is counting down the traditions and memorable moments involving the Irish and the Crimson Tide. Today is No. 21.

So why does this elephant mascot roam Alabama's sideline when the university's nickname is the Crimson Tide?

The association originated in 1930, when Wallace Wade's eighth and final Tide team was among the most dominant in program history. Alabama went 10-0 that national championship season and outscored its opposition 271-13, which included a 24-0 skunking of Washington State in the Rose Bowl.

Alabama's second game that season was a 64-0 blasting of Ole Miss in Tuscaloosa. Four days after the shellacking, sports writer Everett Strupper of the Atlanta Journal wrote about the "typical Wade machine" he had witnessed and how the Tide had opened the game with its second-string players.

"At the end of the quarter, the earth started to tremble," Strupper wrote. "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.

"It was the first time that I had seen it, and the size of the entire 11 nearly knocked me cold -- men that I had seen play last year looking like they had nearly doubled in size."

From then on, Strupper and other writers throughout the South commonly referred to Alabama's linemen as the "Red Elephants."

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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