Why Do You Say Roll Tide for Alabama?

    Roll Tide and Alabama football have become synonymous with each other. Find out how the famous phrase came to life.

    Roll Tide is a popular phrase associated with Alabama and is one of the most well-known monikers in college sports.

    Where exactly the phrase Roll Tide first began is a bit of a mystery, however. There are multiple accounts that stretch back over a century and go back to the days when Alabama started to be called the Crimson Tide. So how did Alabama get its roll call?

    What Is Roll Tide?

    Roll Tide is the rallying chant of Alabama football and originates from ‘Bama’s nickname, “the Crimson Tide.”

    The chant is meant to cheer on the Alabama team, providing the team with encouragement and inspiration. However, the origins of the phrase aren’t completely clear.

    Most believe that Roll Tide was coined by journalist Hugh Roberts from the Birmingham Age-Herald in 1907 when Alabama first saw use of the phrase, “the Crimson Tide.” Alabama was playing Auburn in awful weather conditions, and Auburn was the favored team. Before this game, Alabama was known as “The Thin Red Line.”

    The dreadful weather meant the game was effectively played in mud, and the game ended in a 6-6 draw. The conditions were so terrible that the mud on the field had turned to the color crimson, associated with the iron-rich soil in the state of Alabama.

    Records in the Paul W. Bryant Museum show that Roberts wrote that the field looked like a “crimson tide” that day. The saying came to define Alabama with connotations of war, blood, and the art of giving everything on the gridiron.

    Newspaper cuttings from the 1910s show Alabama being described as a crimson tide, but it still had not been adopted as the official nickname.

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    The nickname Crimson Tide didn’t become instantly popular, however. Its inception as a common phrase is credited to Henry Harden “Zipp” Newman, who became the sports editor at Birmingham News in 1919.

    That is just the origins of half of the phrase. There are no clear answers as to how the word “roll” became a part of the phrase. Many credit its inclusion to the team rolling over whoever they played.

    There is also a theory that an entry into an Alabama student magazine in 1926 called “Yea Alabama,” features the phrase “Go! Roll to vic-try!” Modern covers of the original now contain the wording “Roll Tide!”

    Now, Roll Tide is synonymous with Alabama football and is chanted at games. It is also used as a greeting among fans and even featured in an ESPN advert.

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