By Larry Burton
Why is the elephant our mascot, it makes no sense?
There are two schools of thought, two different stories and each is true.
The first was during the 1927 Rose Bowl where Alabama was a virtual unknown to the West Coast writers. In fact, all of Southern football was a virtual unknown. The big Northern and Western schools thought they were football’s royalty and the people in south simply played “Hillbilly Ball”.
So when Alabama showed up in Los Angeles and reporters were there to cover their arrival, the noticed red elephants on the trunks and equipment trunks and mistakenly thought that this team from Alabama was the “Red Elephants”.
The reason for the red elephants though were for a different reason. The team carried their luggage and equipment in trunks that had been acquired from Rosenberger’s Birmingham Trunk Company. Their son, who was a student at the University, made sure the trunks were outfitted with lucky luggage tags that bore the trunk company’s logo, a big red elephant.
Many writers and even early radio broadcasters from that part of the country referred to Alabama as the red elephants.
Many Alabama players were said to take the red elephant as their lucky charm since they went to Rose Bowl as underdogs, but left as champions.
The next story is from 1930, when sports writer Everett Strupper of the Atlanta Journal wrote a story of the Alabama-Mississippi game he had seen just a few days before.
In that account, which became a famous story, Strupper penned, “That Alabama team of 1930 is a typical Wade machine, powerful, big, tough, fast, aggressive, well-schooled in fundamentals, and the best blocking team for this early in the season that I have ever seen. When those big brutes hit you I mean you go down and stay down, often for an additional two minutes.
“Coach Wade started his second team that was plenty big and they went right to their knitting scoring a touchdown in the first quarter against one of the best fighting small lines that I have seen. For Ole Miss was truly battling the big boys for every inch of ground.
“At the end of the quarter, 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,’ and out stamped this Alabama varsity.
“It was the first time that I had seen it and the size of the entire eleven nearly knocked me cold, men that I had seen play last year looking like they had nearly doubled in size.”
From then on many other sportswriters jumped on the bandwagon and started referring to the Alabama linemen as red elephants. Since the players had heard themselves called that out West before, they let it be known that they liked that moniker and it just stuck after that.
Don’t just pick a score, but tell us how you think the Auburn game will go and please be serious.
As seriously as I can say it, and not pick a score, Alabama will win by 20 or more points.
Auburn doesn’t have the defense to keep Alabama’s offense off the field. Alabama will play their game. Long drives, lots of rushing yardage, passing at will and lots of points.
What Auburn fans don’t want to come to grips with is this, while both teams score about the same amount of points per game, Alabama simply kills defenses in the bottom 50% and despite what the fans of Auburn may think, that are far into the bottom half.
As of this week, Auburn has the nation’s 70th best defense out of 125 teams. They simply don’t have the men to stop Alabama. The only thing that will stop Alabama in this game is turnovers, miscues and penalties.
As for Auburn’s offense, they put up only 24 on Mississippi State and only 21 against LSU. The Mississippi State game was a close victory and the LSU game was a beat down loss. Auburn fans will do well to remember that LSU, the team that beat them handily, was beaten like a drum by Alabama.
Auburn can and will score, but not often enough and Auburn’s defense will wither against the relentless onslaught from the Tide offense.
Auburn is a good team and getting better, but they don’t have the depth to compete at Alabama’s level this year. Last year they were beaten like rented mule 49-0 and they expect to close that gap in one year?
They will cut it, maybe by half and only lose by 24, but certainly that number will start with a two.
Larry is an award winning writer whose work has appeared in almost every college football venue. Now he primarily writes for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter