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The History and Evolution of the Alabama Football Logo

The Alabama Crimson Tide is one of the most notable college football teams that can be found out there. In part, this is because it has been in existence for a long, long time, seeing how it can be said that it started up in the 1890s.

However, it should also be noted that it has been home to both outstanding coaches and outstanding players, without whom it could not have attained its current status. With that said, while the Alabama Crimson Tide has a respectable record, its name as well as its logo are worth bringing up as well.

First, Crimson Tide seems to be an excellent example of a name that started seeing use over time rather than a name that was picked out for that purpose. In the earliest times, there are reports that the college football team was called either "the Varsity," "the Cadets," or even "the Crimson White." However, it wasn't too long before it started picking up nicknames for one reason or another.

The Thin Red Line

First, there was the "thin red line," which was presumably influenced by the much earlier and much more famous sight at the Battle of Balaclava in the Crimean War that was fought between the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire plus Britain, France, and Sardinia from 1853 to 1856.

For those who are curious, the famous line refers to the 93rd Regiment of Foot from the Scottish Highlands plus their Turkish allies, who managed to hold their ground against a much stronger contingent of Russian cavalry.

The feat wasn't unprecedented, but it was nonetheless remarkable because facing a cavalry charge on foot was a terrifying prospect, not least because even a small number of individuals showing hesitation could cause a rout that could see the whole lot ridden down.

In any case, the sight of the red-coats with their steel tips proved to be iconic, so much so that the line has been seeing use in various forms ever since that time.

The Crimson Tide

Second, the college football team winded up becoming known as the Crimson Tide because of a sports editor named Hugh Roberts, who is said to have coined it in 1907. Supposedly, this happened because of the Iron Bowl in 1907, which was expected to be won by the Auburn Tigers.

Instead, the two college football teams tied at 6-6, with the Alabama players coming out with their white jerseys turned red because of the sea of red mud in which the game had been played. Due to this, they were labelled the "Crimson Tied," which would eventually lead to the "Crimson Tide."

As for the elephant mascot, well, that can be traced to the huge size of the 1930 players under Coach Wallace Wade. Due to this, they made quite an impression on sports writers, who proceeded to call them "Red Elephants."

It wasn't too long before the elephant became a popularly recognized symbol of the Alabama Crimson Tide, though it wasn't until the late 1970s that it managed to receive official recognition.

How Has the Alabama Crimson Tide Logo Changed Over Time?

Sports Logo History shows that the very first version of the Alabama Crimson Tide's logo was an elephant. To be exact, it was a red elephant with ears that suggest it was supposed to be an African elephant rather than an Indian elephant.

On its back, there is a caparison that bears the letters "UA," which presumably stand for "University of Alabama." Otherwise, it is interesting to note that the elephant has an ice cream cone in its trunk while its right foreleg is posed on top of a football bearing the words "Crimson Tide." Of course, it should come as no surprise to learn that the elephant is red in color.

Eventually, the Alabama Crimson Tide switched over to something more aggressive and less adorable in 1974. This time around, the new logo consisted of a similar-looking elephant emerging out of an "A" for Alabama.

Like its predecessor, the bigger ears make it clear that this is supposed to be an African elephant rather than an Indian elephant, though it is depicted in a particularly aggressive manner with trunk raised and tusk pointed outwards as though in challenge. Besides these elements, it should be mentioned that the "A" has a white banner wrapped around it, which bears the name "Crimson Tide" in red lettering.

A More Menacing Look

By 2001, the Alabama Crimson Tide had switched to something even more menacing in nature. In short, the new logo consisted of a similar-looking African elephant in a similar pose but now presented from a front view rather than a side view. Moreover, it is posed so that it stands behind the words "Alabama Crimson Tide" while its trunk and tusk protrude over it, thus providing it with a hunched posture that contributes much to its overall feel.

With that said, the aforementioned logo lasted for no more than a short period of time as the Alabama Crimson Tide's primary logo. By 2004, the college football team had adopted a new logo that abandoned the more stand-out elements of its predecessors in preference for something simpler but still striking in its own right. In short, it consists of a stylized red "A" in a white circle, which is bounded by a red circle with a black and white outline. The red circle bears "Alabama Crimson Tide" in grey lettering, thus enabling the stylized "A" to stand out more when contrasted with the white of its background.

Having said this, while this logo is the primary logo that still sees use in the present time, it is interesting to note that its predecessor still sees use as the secondary logo. In fact, it is interesting to note that the two logos were introduced at around the same time but have winded up switched positions as the primary and secondary logos.

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Allen Lee

Written by Allen Lee

Allen Lee is a Toronto-based freelance writer who studied business in school but has since turned to other pursuits. He spends more time than is perhaps wise with his eyes fixed on a screen either reading history books, keeping up with international news, or playing the latest releases on the Steam platform, which serve as the subject matter for much of his writing output. Currently, Lee is practicing the smidgen of Chinese that he picked up while visiting the Chinese mainland in hopes of someday being able to read certain historical texts in their original language.

Read more posts by Allen Lee

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