Daily Dose of Crimson Tide: Big Al

Alabama Athletics

Christopher Walsh

In 1930, Alabama was off to a 1-0 start when Ole Miss rolled into town on October 4 for both teams’ Southern Conference opener. Even though it would be his final season with the Crimson Tide, Wallace Wade knew that he had good team, maybe his best yet – and that included the 1925 and 1926 Rose Bowl squads.

Alabama had opened the season with a 43-0 victory against Howard, and would crush the Rebels that day, 64-0.

Apparently inspired by comments yelled between fans, Everett Strupper of the Atlanta Journal wrote: “That Alabama team of 1930 is a typical Wade machine, powerful, big, tough, fast, aggressive, well-schooled in fundamentals, and the best blocking team for this early in the season that I have ever seen. When those big brutes hit you I mean you go down and stay down, often for an additional two minutes.

“Coach Wade started his second team that was plenty big and they went right to their knitting scoring a touchdown in the first quarter against one of the best fighting small lines that I have seen. For Ole Miss was truly battling the big boys for every inch of ground.

“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.

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

The 1930 team went on to finish its regular season 10-0, with eight shutouts and 13 total points allowed compared to 217 scored. Consequently, Alabama received another invitation to the Rose Bowl, where the “red elephants” crushed Washington State 24-0 to claim their third national championship.

For years, Strupper and other sportswriters commonly referred to the football team as the red elephants due to the trademark crimson-colored jerseys the players wore. Before long, seeing a real elephant on campus wasn’t unusual despite the aquatic nickname, a practice that continued into the 1950s when school officials decided the massive mascots were too expensive.

Big Al’s debut as Alabama’s official mascot came at the 1979 Sugar Bowl, where the Crimson Tide turned back Penn State at the goal line to earn a 14-7 victory and a national championship. 

Considering Alabama is one of the few teams that does not have a logo on the helmet or uniforms, Big’s Al’s likeness has become a staple on Alabama merchandise, and the costumed mascot makes regular appearances around the state. He’s even the subject of some children’s books.

Big Al celebrates against Auburn
Alabama Athletics

Some of this post originated from "100 Things Crimson tide Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die," published by Triumph Books

Comments (6)
No. 1-3
Tyler  Martin
Tyler Martin

Editor

One of my friends in college at UA was Big Al. The work and dedication it takes to be a mascot is incredible

Anthony Sisco
Anthony Sisco

Editor

I’ve always wondered if they have any kind of coolant in that suit? Maybe an electric fan?

Joey Blackwell
Joey Blackwell

Editor

From what I've heard they have a water-cooled system that circulates cold water through hoses close to the skin, but that's just a rumor that someone told me.


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