The 2023 Crimson Tide football season is upon us. As fourth-ranked Alabama preps to get back to the College Football Playoff, it is also time for fans to start planning their visits to Tuscaloosa. Thus we bring you...
14 Things To Know About Alabama Game Day:
The bad thing about games in T-town for out-of-towners is that unless you are coming in from the north or northwest, you are probably going to have to arrive on one main road: I-59/20. The good thing is that fans arrive at all different times throughout the day. The city has put up several direction signs throughout the area, but your best bet is to follow a live traffic map app like Waze or Google. Once you get close, there are several routes you can follow to your parking spot.
Unless you were raised in a yurt in the mountains of Mongolia, you already know what tailgating is. It’s hanging out with friends outside the stadium with your favorite foods and beverages before the game. Many people have televisions set up to watch other games before Bama kickoff. Leading up to Game 1, you can watch Auburn struggle with UMass before they pour it on in the fourth quarter. In Tuscaloosa on game day, you can reserve tailgating for a price or you can try your luck at grabbing a spot. Many groups have spots reserved throughout the campus. If you don’t want a big production then simply eat, drink, play cornhole, or whatever right where you find a parking spot. Before you plan anything, read UA’s policies.
3. Opposing Fans
For most fans of the opposing team, traveling to Tuscaloosa for a game is a college football bucket list item. Or possibly the parents of a kid. So, be cool, smile, welcome them, watch their team get their backsides kicked and then thank them for visiting. That is who Bama Nation is.
4. The Quad
After finding parking, make your way down University Blvd to the heart of the campus. The Quad is an approximately 22-acre plot of land obviously named for its quadrangle shape. It is a large grassy and tree-lined area with stately Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library to the north, Denny Chimes to the south, and educational buildings to the east and west. The west side has has many trees and the east half is mainly clear and used for activities including autographs, promotions, and the traditional bonfire for homecoming. If you have kids coming with you, be sure to bring along a Nerf or mini-football to toss around on the site where the Crimson Tide football team played their home games from 1893 to 1914.
5. Denny Chimes
A visit to Tuscaloosa would not be complete without a trip to this 115-foot-tall bell tower at the base of the Quad. It is named for former University of Alabama president and champion of the football program George H. Denny, who served as head of the university from 1912 through 1936. It comes with a carillon featuring 25 cast bronze bells that chimes every 15 minutes and strikes on the hour with count of the hours. Denny Chimes also chimes various other songs or the alma mater as part of university celebrations and holidays. The best part for Bama fans is surely the Walk of Fame that surrounds the tower. Since 1948, captains of the football team have placed their hand and footprints in cement slabs at its base. From Harry Gilmer to Joe Namath to Derrick Thomas to Bryce Young, they are all represented.
6. Walk of Champions
Heading towards the stadium, fans are greeted on the north end with a bricked walkway leading up to the north entrance. Along the way are engraved markers celebrating each of the 18 National Championships of the Crimson Tide. Fans arriving early enough will line the walkway and cheer on the team as they arrive at the stadium and make their way inside.
7. Tuska, The Elephant
One of the most incredible new additions to the campus is a life-size sculpture of an elephant located on the northwest corner of the Bryant–Denny block. Measuring in at 24 feet tall and 7 tons, “Tuska” was put into place in April of 2021 and is already a must-selfie spot in T-town. The bronze pachyderm resided at the North River Yacht Club since 2000. The elephant statue was given to UA by the Tuscaloosa-based Westervelt Co. Tuska’s installation was also made possible by a gift from former UA athletic director Bill Battle and his wife, Mary.
8. Coaches Corner
To the west of the Walk of Champions and south of Tuska are statues of all the head coaches who have won National Championships at Alabama. The likenesses of Wallace Wade, Frank Thomas, Paul W. “Bear” Bryant, and Gene Stallings were dedicated at the beginning of the 2006 season. The administration was wise enough to leave an extra space for future statues. Little did they know that a mere three seasons later they would need to start planning on a new statue when Nick Saban won the 2009 crown. His 9-foot statue went up before the 2011 A-Day game - a bit audacious for a guy who is still on the job. But, HEY, it’s the G.O.A.T., not Ed Orgeron or Gene Chizik. Get your selfie on with each of these legends.
9. Bryant–Denny Stadium
It’s game time. Time to enter the place where all the magic happens. BDS has a capacity of 100,077. So, don’t think you are just going to waltz in five minutes before kickoff and be in your seat. The home of Crimson Tide football is nearing its 100th year of existence having been erected in 1929. Before Paul W. “Bear” Bryant became an icon at the Capstone, the stadium was known as Denny History, also named for former UA president. Bryant’s name was added in 1975 by act of the Alabama state legislature.
2022 was the first season that fans inside Bryant-Denny Stadium had the opportunity to buy beer and wine. Despite all the pearl-clutching, nobody died. This year, alcohol is available at the majority of concessions stands as well as portable stations set up on the 100, 200 and 800-level concourses. Outside food and drinks are not allowed to be brought into the stadium. Bryant-Denny Stadium has gone cash-free, so bring a debit or credit card if you plan to make purchases.
11. The Million Dollar Band
The MDB is the school band and they are worth every penny. The 400 member band has been in existence for over 100 years. The musicians, baton twirlers, and flag bearers help lead the cheers with renditions of “Yea Alabama”, the Alma Mater, “Rammer Jammer” and others.
12. Dixieland Delight
Some years ago, the Bryant-Denny staff started piping the country hit song Dixieland Delight” by the band Alabama over the PA system. The fans - AND PLAYERS - loved it. The fans loved it so much that is became a weekly tradition in the falls. It also became so well known that some industrious young Tide fans started adding new lyrics to the tune.
Spend my dollar (ON BEER),
Parked in a holler ‘neath the mountain moonlight (ROLL TIDE),
Hold her uptight (AGAINST THE WALL),
Make a little lovin’ (ALL NIGHT),
A little turtle dovin’ on a Mason Dixon night (F**K AUBURN),
Fits my life (AND LSU), oh so right (AND TENNESSEE, TOO),
My Dixieland Delight.
Then a few years ago, some pearl clutchers complained “Oh my sweet lawd. Are they using the F word? Well I NEVER!” So, the University still plays the song but during that refrain they piped in “BEAT AUBURN!” But of course, the students had a response to that.
13. After the Win
We yell, we cheer, we sing the “Rammer Jammer” song at the top of our lungs. What we don’t do is storm the field. That is what lame bush league programs do. “Act like you’ve been there before” is the old saying. And Alabama has been there before. 985 times.
After the Tide crushes some poor foe, many fans head back to their tailgate for post-game imbibing and score watching - unless it is a night game. Other options are to head to The Strip (west from the stadium up University Blvd.) to one of many restaurants, bars or “book stores” to get your Bama gear. And of course to watch Coastal Carolina scare the bejeezus out of UCLA.