CHARLESTON, W.Va. — In his legendary tome “Art of War,” ancient Chinese military general Sun Tzu said a successful army must know its enemies.
Here at the Gazette-Mail, we think the same strategy applies to football.
Over the course of this year’s West Virginia University football season, we’ll take a look at the unique traditions of the Mountaineers’ opponents.
This week WVU will take on the University of Alabama at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome for the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.
Here are some things you should know The Crimson Tide:
The tide and the elephant
It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, does it? Why would a team known as the Crimson Tide have an elephant for a mascot?
Sports editor Hugh Roberts of the Birmingham Age-Herald gets the credit for naming the team “The Crimson Tide.” He first used the term in 1907, in a story about a game between Alabama and rival Auburn.
The field was wet that day, and the red mud turned Alabama’s white jerseys into crimson.
The elephant did not appear until 1930 when another sportswriter, Everett Strupper of the Atlanta Journal, witnessed a game between Alabama and Ole Miss.
Alabama coach Wallace Wade started that game with his second-string players. Then, at the end of the first quarter, he brought out the varsity team.
“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,’” Strupper wrote.
Soon other journalists began referring to Alabama as “the red elephants,” and the school gained yet another nickname.
Although “Roll Tide” is primarily a cheer, it has become a catch-all phrase for Alabama faithfuls.
They use the phrase to greet one another on game day, or anytime one Alabama fan spots someone else wearing Alabama gear.
Fans also chant “Roll Tide Roll” during “Sweet Home Alabama,” a favorite stadium song.
A shortened version of the slogan, “RTR,” is often seen on bumper stickers. It also shows up a lot on Facebook and Twitter, too.
Former coach Paul William “Bear” Bryant is the patron saint of Alabama football.
He coached the team from 1958 until his retirement in 1982, gaining 323 wins and six national championships for the team. Bryan became a beloved figure among fans, many of whom wear houndstooth hats and scarves in his memory.
Some have even named their children after the famous coach.
Since 1996, the Paul W. Bryant Museum has held a reunion before the first home game for all the Pauls, Williams, Bears and Bryants named in Bryant’s honor.
Dreamland BBQ Nachos
Alabama fans love Dreamland BBQ Nachos almost as much as Bear Bryant.
Martinsburg, W.Va. native and Alabama graduate Hannah Wilkes said the nachos are the snack of choice at Bryant Denny Stadium.
“Honestly, I don’t even know what other food they sell in the stadium. I guess burgers and dogs? Everyone just gets the nachos,” she said.
The Dreamland nachos are only available at the stadium, although other Tuscaloosa, Ala. restaurants serve similar nachos.
It’s pretty easily replicated at home, too, if you’re looking for a special game day treat.
You start with corn tortilla chips, preferably the round kind. Top those with pulled pork, cheddar cheese sauce, barbecue sauce and pickled jalapeno slices.
Any kind of pulled pork and barbecue sauce will work, but for a more authentic experience you can order the ingredients directly from Dreamland BBQ.
Check out www.dreamlandbbq.com for more information.