The Alabama Football Game-Day Experience!
This Is How The Tide Rolls on The Quad & in Bryant-Denny
Two reasons the Tide rolls – cute cheerleaders!
By Kevin Wilkerson, University of Alabama Alumni
The Tide rolls and so do their fans.
It's the University of Al-a-BAM-A, as Keith Jackson called it, the place where a coach named "Bear" became a legend and where Nick Saban is continuing the tradition of winning that is Alabama football.
And with that winning comes a loyal, dedicated fan base with Southern values and Southern hospitality, who love nothing more than setting up RVs and tents in the Quad for a weekend of tailgating and experiencing Alabama football.
Bama Belles warm up for an Alabama football game.
This is the premier Alabama tailgate party guide from the party pros at PubClub.com.
University of Alabama Campus MAP
– TAILGATING ON THE QUAD –
Plasma TVs, food and beer under tents fill the Quad on football Saturdays.
The center of Alabama's campus is a two-mile square grassy area known as the Quadrangle, or Quad (PubClub knows it's two miles around because our leader used to run it three time a week as part of a class).
Denny Chimes – be careful not stand near it if a virgin walks by – is the campus landmark that sits front-and-center along University Blvd. Behind it is Gorgas Library. In between, filling up just about every available grass spot in the area, are tents, tents and more tents. There's probably a thousand of them and they have BBQs of all sizes, the most sophisticated of which have plasma TVs and bars.
This is the Alabama tailgate party scene.
This is rolling with the tide, a huge BBQ grill on the Quad.
Yes, there are Bama Belles on the Quad for the tailgate party.
The Triangle Tailgaiters have their place on the Quad.
Denny Chimes is the landmark on the Quad where team captains have handprints.
In most cases, people (and companies) reserve their spot for a fee in advance for the entire season. Those without a spot can simply grab a beer to go from one of the designated "to-go" bars along the nearby University Strip – there is no open-container law in effect, but the rules are a bit difficult to understand (aluminum bottles of Bud must be opened outside the bar and put in a brown paper bag when leaving the bar, go figure) – and join the party.
In addition to the Quad, those bars along the Strip are happening. The Houndstooth is the most popular of them all, and the walls of TVs make it easy to catch other games (for Alabama fans, this is important, for teams ranked around the Tide hold great interest).
Another place to go to catch some games – and some rest or relief from the weather – is the second-floor lobby of Ferguson Center just past the Quad. Ferguson Center is also where the "Sup store," the campus bookstore, is located.
Two hour before the game, the band plays on the steps of the library, then there is an Elephant Walk led by mascot Big Al, to the stadium.
Take a moment to look at all the handprints of team captains in the concrete by Denny Chimes. This tradition has been going on for decades and includes greats such as Joe Namath.
– THE PAUL BRYANT MUSEUM –
You can't lean against a goal post in the Bryant Museum but you can see the Bear do it.
Admission to a museum devoted to the legendary coach is just $2.
It would be an incomplete trip to Tuscaloosa not to include a trip down Paul Bryant Drive to the Paul Bryant Museum.
Located at 300 W. Paul Bryant Drive, across from the athletic facilities and Coleman Coliseum (about four blocks from the Quad and a half-dozen from Bryant-Denny Stadium), it chronicles the history of not only Alabama's historic coach but the school's football program.
The first stop should be the 10-minute film of Bryant at Alabama. Then explore the glass displays and pause at things such as Bryant's office desk and information on key moments in Alabama football history, former players and coaches.
The museum is open from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., even on game days.
And here's the best part: It only costs $2!
– BRYANT-DENNY STADUM –
With more than 100,000 capacity, Bryant-Denny Stadium is a showcase.
Big, bold and impressive.
That's Bryant-Denny Stadium.
To the first-time visitor, it looks brand new, as if it were just built with this exact design in mind.
In reality, it's somewhat of a miracle remodel of an old stadium that once consisted of wooden bleachers and open end zones when Bryant roamed the sidelines. Even in his final years of Alabama dominance – the 70s – the stadium seated 60,000 and bowed to the larger Legion Field in Birmingham for the bigger games on the schedule.
That's all in the past, tho, and today's Bryant-Denny Stadium is a palace. It now seats 101,821 with upper decks all the way around it, luxury sky boxes and even sell Dreamland Ribs nachos in the concession stands (($7.50). It's also a very loud stadium and nearly every fan has a shaker, and this provides Alabama with a huge home-field advantage.
And, like any SEC school worth its salt, Bryant-Denny Stadium has great souvenir plastic cups from the concession stand. The largest contains a mural of the stadium ringed with words of the school's 13 National Championships, 22 SEC Championships and Heisman Trophy.
If it has a weakness, it's a lack of easy (and large) bathroom facilities for some of the sky boxes. Fortunately, PubClub.com knows this from first-hand experience. PubClub also got to experience The Zone, an area in the end zone with buffett food, outside seating and lively halftime mingling scene.
Paul "Bear" Bryant still stands tall over the stadium with his name.
Outside the stadium, statues of the famed Alabama coaches who have won National Championships – Wallace Wade, Frank Thomas, Bryant, Gene Stallings and Nick Saban – stand guard over the entrance. "New" fraternity row is adjacent and across the street and sorority row is on Magnolia Drive by the east side of the stadium.
The Million Dollar Band marches in a few minutes before kickoff, so if you're still mingling about outside, that's the time to hustle to your seats.
– CRIMSON TIDE TRADITIONS –
Why is the Crimson Tide's mascot an elephant? Photo: Worth Wilkerson
A school with such a rich and successful history as Alabama has several traditions and cheers that are its own. These include:
• Paul "Bear" Bryant. The legendary football coach who won 232 games and six National Championships at the school. Even though he last coached in 1982 and passed away a few months later, he casts a huge shadow over the campus and football program.
• "Yeah Alabama," The school's fight song.
• Big Al. The team's mascot. It's an elephant and some may be confused as to why Alabama has an elephant when the school's nickname is the Crimson Tide. Well, the school was originally the Red Elephants. But in 1925, a supposedly undermanned Bama team upset unbeaten Washington 25-0 in the Rose Bowl and the next day an LA Times sportswriter wrote "Washington was washed away by a powerful Crimson Tide."
• The Million Dollar Band. Alabama is very proud of its band, and for good reason. It is so good – and has been for decades – that it earned its nickname back in the 50s when the football team was not so good. At halftime, one sportswriter turned to another and said, "Well, at least the band looks like a million dollars."
• Roll Tide. The official cheer of Alabama athletics. Can be expanded to "Roll Tide Roll" in certain circumstances. It is always said, with shakers shaking, on Alabama kicksoffs (building up to the "Rooooooollll, TIDE (when the kicker hits the ball) Roll!" Most conversations in Tuscaloosa end with the words "Roll Tide."
• Rammer Jammer Cheer. A long-time favorite, it's "Rammer Jammer, Yellow Hammer, Give 'em Hell Alabama!" Some dogooders decided that because the cheer also includes, "Hey (name of opponent), we just be the hell out of you," that it not politically correct to do it during games, so it's only heard the final two minutes in Bryant-Denny after a win.
To be fully prepared to attend an Alabama game at Bryant-Denny Stadium, click here for a checklist of items to have for the event.
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