Friday, January 2, 2015

Ride or Die with Bama, Roll Tide

I am a hard-core fan of Alabama Crimson Tide football. As a teenager in Montgomery, Alabama, I remember watching games occasionally on television, but it's radio that figures largest in my memory. Whatever I was doing on Saturdays -- washing my car, hanging out with my clique -- the radio was tuned to Keith Jackson's coverage ("Whoa, Nellie!") of the Crimson Tide's game.

I don't have any teams that I just hate. I love the SEC and take a lot of pride in the schools and teams that comprise it. I don't have a lot of patience with official athletic organizations -- NCAA, the old BCS and now the CFP (what an ugly logo, btw), etc., though I do like playoffs and national championships, of which Alabama has won many. Exactly how many depends on who is counting, and what criteria they use.

Yesterday's loss to Ohio State was a heartbreaker, sure enough. (How many interceptions did Sims throw, two or three? I quit watching a some point in the second half.)

But there was another Sugar Bowl meeting between these two teams, back in 1978.  Final score, Alabama 35, Ohio State 6.

Here are some highlights. (The quality of the video is unfortunate, but how neat to hear Keith Jackson again!)

Tide fans love the Tide, and not just because of recent wins and recent conference and national championships...  For some of us, the team's history and traditions are a huge part of its appeal... And here is one big reason...

The 1926 Rose Bowl

That was that game that made the Tide not just the champions of the Alabama; it made Bama the whole South's team -- "Dixie's football pride." has a recap here, complete with video of the players' parade upon their return to Tuscaloosa.

A Look Back at the Game

But Gail Jarvis gives a far more in-depth look at the event, and its significance. And the significance pertains as much to what went on in the South before the game -- decades before -- as to what came after.

He begins with the kind of hardship the South endured after the civil war (some of it deliberately inflicted) that Eric Jacobson and Mousy Tongue either don't believe happened, or think it "wasn't all that bad" (or if it was that bad, then good, more of it shoulda happened...)
Reconstruction and the Rose Bowl

By Gail Jarvis
The War Between the States and the pillaging by General William Tecumseh Sherman’s Union troops left the South devastated. Most properties as well as systems of production and transportation were destroyed. Livestock were slaughtered and crops burned. For most Southerners, survival became a matter of clawing and scraping.

The years of radical Reconstruction following the war further demoralized the South. The region was placed under military rule and an inept attempt was made to redistribute land and resources. But those in charge of Reconstruction didn’t understand basic human nature. Nor did they realize, until it was too late, how easily their programs were being exploited and undermined by corrupt interlopers.

So, within a few years, this social experiment lost its momentum and was phased out, officially ending in 1877. At that point the South began rebuilding efforts but the struggle to regain some semblance of stability continued for decades. Indeed, millions of Black as well as White Southerners migrated to the North in the decades following the War because they were unable to earn a living in the South.

But one form of Reconstruction was simply replaced with another form that, for decades, kept Southern states in a continuous struggle against poverty. Historian A.B. Moore examined this phenomenon in his 1940s paper,  “One Hundred Years of Reconstruction of the South.” Moore describes the harsh measures the government imposed on the South following the War. The region was not allowed to collect debts it was owed; however it had to pay its debts in full. Discriminatory tariffs continued to place an unfair advantage on the South while filling Northern coffers. Freight-rates were skewed in favor of the North who could ship its goods southward at cheaper rates than the South could ship its goods to the North. Also, the inequitable rate structure allowed the North to ship its goods to Southern cities cheaper than Southern cities could ship goods to their own Southern neighbors.

Another inequity was the patent subsidy that allowed the North to own almost 90 percent of “the effective money-producing patents.” Of the government pensions paid for the War Between the States and World War One, 7 billion dollars went to the North while only 1 billion dollars went to the other regions of the country. Southern companies and farmers were compelled to finance their ventures using Northern lenders and were charged much higher interest rates than those assessed Northern borrowers. It is estimated that the North controlled ninety percent of the nation’s wealth primarily because of these government differentials that kept the South in “colonial bondage.”

It has been said that, after the war, “tongues and pens” replaced “bullets and bayonets.” The North owned the publishing businesses, agencies of public instruction, news gathering agencies, newspapers, magazines and radio systems. Northern conglomerates also owned most newspapers in the South. In Moore’s words, “This gave the North a tremendous advantage in the shaping of public opinion.” Media became the instrument used “to make the northern way of life the national way.” The North had “the conviction that it was not a section but the whole United States and that, therefore, its pattern of life must prevail throughout the country.When the South failed to conform it was stigmatized as backward, provincial, and sectional.” Southern culture was not simply different, it was boorish. Northern journalists described the South in increasingly unflattering ways although most had never traveled to the region.

By the early 1900s, the South had changed dramatically. It was moving away from an agrarian economy. Although poverty was still a problem, the South had a multiplicity of commercial enterprises and metropolitan centers. Southern universities were incubating a group of writers who would profoundly impact American literature. And the Southern Belle had become a Flapper, influenced by the female need for independence that was sweeping the country. But the northern press continued to portray the South as a rural backwater that could not compete with the hardworking and industrialized North.

Not surprisingly, the immense power of the media was even influencing the way Southerners viewed themselves. So it is understandable that, in the 1920s, the South was a region devoid of regional pride. But, finally, an incident occurred that marked the beginning of a change in the South’s image. Oddly enough, it was a football game: the 1926 Rose Bowl. This game pitted the University of Washington against the University of Alabama, the first Southern team in history to be invited to a bowl game. This contest would always be remembered as “The football game that changed the South.”

It has been called the Rose Bowl’s most spectacular game and many believe it was the most exciting college football game ever played.

Read the whole thing, here: Reconstruction and the Rose Bowl

Copyright © 2013 by Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.
Yes, indeed! You're Dixie's football pride, Crimson Tide!

Photo credits: Matthew Tosh and Rebel Nation Photo Stream via Creative Commons license, and the Public Domain.


  1. We even root for 'Bama here in Texas. I remember having a teacher in school who quoted Bear Bryant. I believe he even coached here for a time.

  2. I saw some of that game and even though I'm a Gamecock fan, I am sorry that a fellow SEC team lost.
    Tell the truth, I really don't care much for the NCAA as a corporate entity, mostly because of their slavish adherence to Left wing bigotry - notably their continued support of the NAACP's joke of a "boycott" of my home state.
    That being said, I do respect the players, the young men who go out there, risk injury and concussion damage, just to do a sport that they love and give us someone to cheer on. No matter if they wear Gamecock red and garnet, or Tide red, they're the ones that make the sport and put their bodies on the line, and I support them all, even if I have to cheer for some against the other at times.

    1. Heck C. W,, Mississippi has been under boycott since we voted to keep our state flag. From where I sit doesn't look like it has any affect at all. Besides who needs the NCAA????

    2. Every time they boycott someplace, business goes through the roof. I guess a lot of folks are sick of PC.

  3. I suppose I should study reconstruction more, but the issue seldom comes up in a "debate."

    ---- and the top passing quarterback's have Mississippi connections, Manning and Favre. Nothing against Broadway Joe you understand????

  4. 1973 Sugar Bowl - now that was a football game. Even if the wrong team won.

    1. I was a fan of ND back in those days, being stationed in Virginia.. Now I have seen the light.



Comments are welcome, but monitored.