Alabama Crimson Tide Football: 9 Great Things About the 'Bama Gameday Experience
It is less than three weeks until the opening of the 2012 college football season. As the Alabama Crimson Tide gear up to defend their BCS national title, their fans eagerly await delivery of their season ticket packages, scheduled for later this week.
A much more exciting delivery than the day that new phone books arrive, members of Alabama's Tide Pride membership clubs are literally counting the minutes until the package is delivered to their door, scouring message boards looking for the first confirmed receipt.
While waiting, plans are being made for game-day get-togethers. Old football friends are contacted, menus are planned and tailgating preparations are confirmed. This will not speed up delivery, but it does tend to take the edge off, if only for a short while.
As if there were a need to make this week even more exciting for 'Bama fans, it seems like an appropriate time to go over a few things we look forward to seeing in T-Town once again this season when the Tide roll back into Bryant-Denney Stadium.
Like most universities, big or small, the Alabama campus surrounds what is lovingly referred to as "the Quad." Right along the edge of the quad sits Denny Chimes.
This 115-foot tall clock tower has been a part of the Alabama campus since 1929 and includes a 25-bell carillon that rings with glory every 15 minutes.
In the pavement around the Chimes are the hand and footprints of every Alabama football captain since 1947. From Harry Gilmer to Dont'a Hightower and everyone in between, you can practically relive your whole life using this area as a starting point.
This shrine has been dubbed the "Walk of Fame" by the university.
Tide fans stop by in droves to pay homage to one of the many great leaders that has served the Alabama football program over the years, or use the site as a simple, easy-to-find meeting point.
After a quick trip down memory lane, an ice cold adult beverage is often needed. There is no better, more historic place to do this than the Houndstooth bar, located on "the strip" within earshot of the stadium.
The Houndstooth was recently renovated and now resembles an Alabama version of the typical sports bar. This is quite disappointing to many older fans who remember the Houndstooth the way it once was.
Before the renovation, this local institution had a musky smell that cannot be described. Years and years of Alabama history were captured by pictures lining the walls in no particular order. The pool tables were covered with plywood on gamedays, as if that would prevent damage.
Smoking was allowed inside, and a fan could really feel like he was actually a part of history there.
Sure, the new place is much-improved and comes with, well, little risk of falling down if a stiff wind sneaks up on it. Still, the glory of the old Houndstooth was lost when the new version was erected.
Still, it's a must-do for fans on gameday.
Big Bad Wolves BBQ
It is no secret that Dreamland is the place to be when it comes to barbecue in Tuscaloosa. But if you forget to pick some up on the way to the game, Big Bad Wolves is the place to be on campus.
Located practically on top of the Houndstooth, this outdoor food stand is home to some of the best barbecue nachos on the planet. The Houndstooth does not serve food, but the beautiful combination allows you to have a beer on the patio and get your 'cue fix by simply facing the other direction.
You never have to leave in order to get the best of both worlds while watching the fascinating goings-on on the strip.
The Walk of Champions
Much like the quad, just about every school has its own version of Alabama's Walk of Champions, which occurs roughly two hours before kickoff. But not too many teams pass the statues of five legendary coaches who have led their teams to national championships.
This pregame tradition is a can't-miss part of the Alabama tailgating and pregame experience. The team buses pull up and, led by current head coach Nick Saban, the team walks proudly into the stadium as thousands of dedicated onlookers line both sides of the path to the stadium entrance.
Kids sit upon their parents' shoulders hoping to get a better look. The constant clicking of cameras is drowned out by the raucous crowd as they lend support to their heroes, ready for battle.
The Formality of Fraternity and Sorority Members
One of the most interesting sights on a Tuscaloosa gameday is the Greeks' formal attire.
Brothers and sisters of fraternities and sororities dress up as if they're on the way to the biggest formal of the season each and every Saturday. Blue-jean shorts and cut-off tee shirts go by the wayside in favor of red polyester trousers and houndstooth prom dresses.
The ladies are beautifully groomed in their heels and over-the-top sundresses, while the guys wear pants so tacky that they would likely be forbidden on most golf courses, often supported by red suspenders and bow ties.
Still, they admittedly do look quite dashing as they represent the students with class and, um, style.
The Crimson Tradition Video
All tailgating eventually comes to an end and fans slowly make their way into Bryant-Denney Stadium as kickoff nears. Shortly before the teams take the field, the announcement of "This is Alabama Football" comes across the loudspeakers.
In about four minutes, some of the best moments in Alabama football history come back to life as the crowd is driven into a fury when the likes of Barry Krauss, Van Tiffin, Antonio Langham and Mark Ingram are shown on the big screen.
Chills throw spines into convulsions with each and every moment as all eyes are glued to the jumbo-tron. This is one of the moments that most 'Bama fans make sure to be in their seats for, without exception.
It only takes a second, and we do not always know when it is coming, but when fighter jets blaze over the stadium at an astounding clip, everyone knows that a big-time football game is just around the corner.
It feels as if the jets are mere feet over the top of Bryant-Denney, and the sound is deafening. It happens so fast that by the time everyone realizes what it is, the flyover is practically done and all that's left are the remnants of what were once eardrums.
"Thuderstruck," "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Dixieland Delight"
The haters call it redneck. And, you know, maybe it is. But much like the Honey Badger, Alabama don't care.
When the first few chords of Lynyrd Skynyrd hit the speakers in Tuscaloosa, everyone in the stadium joins in on the chorus. "Sweet Home Alabama" is lovingly followed without a hitch by "Roll Tide, Roll" over and over again at least once every game.
AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" is usually a pregame ritual, and "Dixieland Delight," by the aptly named Alabama, has always been a second-half favorite of the student section.
There is always something special about over a 100,000 people singing in unison on a Saturday night. If it's a redneck thing to do, then so be it. We love it and we can't wait to do it again this year.
"We just beat the Hell out of you! Rammer, Jammer, give 'em Hell, Alabama!"
Every Alabama supporter knows this one, too. Years ago, it was played both before and after games, but these days Alabama saves their victory stamp for the waning seconds of the fourth quarter.
This little number is a tradition that comes from the bleacher seats, as the fans just love to send off their heartbroken opponents with a little what for. When the Million Dollar Band cues it up, the cheer is on.
One of the fun things about this one is going home and watching ever so closely on the DVR to see if you can hear it over the announcers. Often, you can.