When people think tradition in college sports, Alabama has to be at the top of the list. There are the "Crimson Tide" nickname (much better than Tigers of which there are many), the iconic Bear Bryant (probably the most famous college football coach ever), the classic uniforms (crimson and white, numbers on the helmets), the houndstooth (really now, how many teams have their own fabric pattern?), the elephant mascot, and more. Some traditions are old like the team captain’s hands and cleats prints in the cement around Denny Chimes. Some are new like the whole Walk of Champions area. Even our songs are unique. How many schools call out opposing schools in their fight song like "Yea, Alabama" does to UGA, Georgia Tech, and even our Rose Bowl victims? How many schools have a fight song that isn’t borrowed from a pop song? And then there is the one-of-a-kind "Rammer-Jammer", the victory cheer. It is SO fun to do and you know the opponents HATE hearing it. Again, it is unique to our school. It is not "Na-na-na-na, Hey-Hey-Hey Goodbye" or some other borrowed song or common cheer. It is only used by the fans of the Crimson Tide.
Which brings me to the point of this article: when should and should NOT the "Rammer-Jammer" cheer be performed?
"Rammer Jammer" has a long and rocky history. For you uneducated, the cheer dates back to the 1920’s when Bear Bryant was in grade school wrestling bear cubs. The lyrics originate from a student newspaper of the same name that was published in the 1920s. The yellowhammer is Alabama's state bird (and also a drink that can be found at your favorite Bama watering hole).
Some of you young-uns may not know that Alabama fans used to sing it before the game as well with the words "we’re gonna beat the hell out of you!" But a bunch of crybabies thought it was not appropriate. I seem to remember that Bill Curry was not a fan. Sometime in the 90s, it got sequestered to the post game.
For a time around the turn of the century, the issue arose again. Some ignorant media-types and some politicians in places that don’t play football started a rally cry against violence in football and sadly Hootie Ingram bowed to pressure and the cheer was banned.
It was brought back by popular demand when a question was posed to students during 2005 Homecoming whether they would like to see the cheer reinstated. 96% responded in the affirmative. The other 4% must have transferred back to a cow college somewhere.
After the triumphant return of "Rammer Jammer", it was reserved for special moments. These moments included such gracious events as defeats of the Vols, Auburn, and pretty much any other SEC opponent aside from Vandy or Kentucky. It was also done when winning a bowl or beating an out-of-conference BCS-calibre foe such as Penn State, Clemson, or Va Tech. Even then, it was usually only implemented when the Tide truly did "beat the hell" out of the opponent but usually only if it was a quality opponent. Certain opponents were not worthy of our scorn. Swatting a fly is no big deal but slay a dragon and we gonna celebrate!
Other teams know that if they beat Alabama it is a big moment. I say this tongue in cheek but if they lose and hear "Rammer Jammer", then they should take some solace in the fact that maybe some of us fans were slightly concerned about their team.
And then it happened.
On a crisp fall day in 2007, the Tide was sleepwalking through a homecoming game with
little ol’ I-AA Western Carolina [Again, I apologize. As mentioned at the bottom of this article I did not get to properly research this article before it was posted. It was actually Alabama's 2007 win over Houston 30-24 which had followed a home loss to UGA and a sloppy loss to FSU in Jacksonville. Believe me when I say that many fans were not feeling good about the team at that point]. Fans began leaving Bryant-Denny Stadium grumbling and shaking their heads over the state of the program when the Million Dollar Band struck up the familiar opening chord of "Rammer Jammer". This rubbed many Alabama fans the wrong way for the Tide had NOT beaten the hell out of the Catamounts Cougars and even if they had, they were not an opponent worth doing that cheer against (mostly because beating the hell out of a team like that is what is expected). Did they really expect me to celebrate such a drab performance over a run-of-the-mill Conference USA team? This was settling for mediocrity.
Recently, you may have noticed that it has been played after every men’s basketball home win whether it was a good win or an ugly sloppy win over an inferior opponent. In January, the Tide blew a big lead (not an uncommon thing lately) and let Mississippi State (10-22) rally and almost take the game away. To me, a performance like that did not deserve the "Rammer Jammer". Just last week, the Tide did it again against 15-17 Georgia. They built a big lead only to squander it away. I will give you that Trevor Releford's halfcourt game-winner was a great moment but it never should've gotten to that point. And then the Million Dollar Band cued it up - FOUR TIMES. Yes, I counted.
Use it too much and it loses it’s effectiveness and power over the opponent.
So, here is my decree.
"Rammer Jammer should only be played under the following conditions:
- The defeat of Auburn in any shape or form.
- The defeat of Tennessee in any shape or form.
- The defeat of Florida in most sports.
- The defeat of fellow SEC teams but it must be a solid win (exceptions below).
- The defeat of Kentucky in basketball only (cuz they suck at football).
- The defeat of Vandy in any sport but only if they are ranked.
- The defeat of Mizzou in hoops only (cuz they suck at football)
- The defeat of any ranked team.
- The defeat of any non-conference foe from one of the power conferences (ACC, BIG 10, BIG 12, PAC-whatever).
- Any game where Bama is considered the underdog (a rarity, I know) and wins.
Conversely, "Rammer Jammer should NOT be played under the following conditions:
- A tie or loss (that almost never happens anyway, right?).
- An ugly sloppy win over an inferior opponent.
- Any kind of win over far inferior teams like Georgia State or South Dakota State (unless they get themselves ranked).
- Mizzou or Kentucky football until they improve (Vandy football is fair game for the time being).
- Any win against a Sun Belt.
- Any defeat of an unranked non-conference foe NOT from one of the power conferences (ACC, BIG 10, BIG 12, PAC-whatever).
- Any win against a FCS (I-AA team).
Okay, off my Tide Soap Box.
** (Apologies to everyone for the sloppiness of this article. It was mistakenly published before I was finished with it. If you are reading this after 3pm CT/4pm ET, it has been edited. Thanks, CB969) **