Between the screaming fans, the Million-Dollar Band, and Alabama’s stellar football team, an Alabama football game is the place to be on a Saturday afternoon. The top-ranked Tide really show how to play with class and bring 100,000 fans together. I was one of those fans last week at the Crimson Tide’s home game against Western Kentucky.
I’m sure that the majority of readers know what a tailgate party is. For those of you who have never been to Alabama, you don’t know chaos and fun that goes on at the Quad. The Quad is a grassy area within Alabama’s campus that showcases all of the craziness of the students and fans. There are thousands of tailgaters in this one area, from ages 1 to 100. I had the privilege of going to one myself thanks to my dad’s college friend, Scott Simpson. His parents host a huge tailgate party! I don’t mean like a picnic, I mean, a grill, TV satellites, and a huge cooler. The tailgate is one of best things to do to get in the groove and get prepared for the game.
Not only does getting a ticket for the game come with a price tag, but parking can too! Sometimes parking can be up to $50 in front of someone’s house! But if you use your money for parking wisely, you’ll still have some left over to go shopping on campus, a favorite thing to do for my Mom, Aunt Trish, and Aunt Sharon! Then there is a huge area called the Strip that has all of the shops and gear that a person could want. There are even Alabama hats that have a label that says “Don’t blame us if you never take it off”! Across from the dorms you can find one of most sports-oriented flea markets known to man! You can find anything from Alabama jerseys to Crimson Tide snow globes to Christmas ornaments.
Then comes the football game, the real reason we are all here! As thousands of fans line up across the front of the stadium, the players enter with their Beats on to drown out the noise of the fans. As you walk into one of the most iconic college football venues (Bryant-Denny Stadium) the excitement builds within you. If you’re like my dad you get goose bumps from excitement, but if you’re like my mom you get goose bumps because our seats are too high! Usually we sit with my dad’s college friends, Scott and Brian, and their kids and I go down to the fence surrounding the field to see what we can see and try to get some pictures! Then we all head back up because after the players arrive on the field you can’t really see because they are so big!
Then the famous “Star Spangled Banner” is played and we all remove our hats. After that, the two or three captains from each team go up and the coin toss happens. It sounds official, but really it’s just when the referee flips over a coin to decide who will receive in the first half. Then a sea of Crimson heads out onto the field and the game starts with the kickoff! The kickoff against Western Kentucky was funny because when the WKU receiver caught the kickoff his teammate immediately signaled him to knee it and not try to outrun Alabama’s special teams.
Before you know it, it’s half time and the Tide is ahead 21-0! The players head back into the locker room and get a talk from Coach Saban on how they need to improve. Then there is a huge showcase of Alabama’s Million-Dollar Band playing music by Billy Joel (check out the video).
The color guard and cheerleaders have a choreographed dance to go along with the music. Then the 15 minutes of halftime are over, and Alabama comes out new and improved for the second half! The announcer brings them out and the excitement builds again. For those of you who don’t know, Alabama is dominant in their defense and strength, thanks to defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, and their crazy strength and conditioning coach, Scott Cochran. According to former player, Andrew Schieffer, Cochran is crazy and gets the players to work extra hard with his repeated roars of encouragement. He can usually be seen on the sidelines during games doing jumping jacks to let out excess energy.
Then the third quarter ends and the Alabama players hold up four fingers. I did not understand what this meant when they first started it. Coach Saban and Cochran created the four fingers gesture. The four signifies that Alabama is ready for the fourth quarter. Alabama is probably one of the few college teams that plays just as hard in the fourth quarter as in the first. The game ends and Alabama wins, shutting out Western Kentucky by a score of 35-0!
So is there really a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon? Nothing is better than seeing the Crimson Tide roll onto another victory with 100,000 other fans!