The South is a whole different world for many out of state students for many reasons. After growing up in a Big 10 family, my first game day at the University of Alabama can be best described as culture shock. It all seems kind of ridiculous at first, but it’s impossible not to fall in love with the football culture. So here’s a little advice for everyone from “up north.”
1. The Dress Code
Girls tend to dress like they are either going to a club or to church, complete with the heels and full face of makeup. The acceptable colors are crimson, white, black, and gray. A T-shirt or a Bama football shirt will not cut it, and if your feet aren’t covered in blisters at the end of the night from your shoes you’re probably doing something wrong. Another option is an oversized jersey with - oh, yes - cowboy boots. Just a heads up, I’m pretty sure they only make cowboy boots in Texas and the jerseys go for $80 each (unless you orders yours online from a sketchy Chinese overstock website).
2. The Food
Anything that can be deep fried IS deep fried and is sold from a truck somewhere along the perimeter of the quad. I didn’t realize fried food existed outside of an annual state fair, much less every single home game. It seems to be an essential block of the food pyramid south of the Mason-Dixon.
Back home, this meant hanging out before the game surrounding the literal tailgate of someone’s car before a football game. Not so much at Bama. Overnight the Quad becomes covered in white tents equipped with fully functioning televisions ready to watch the game on. The entire state of Alabama usually shows up and it becomes almost impossible to find anyone or get a cell signal. So good luck, and set up some meeting places.
4. Bryant Denny Stadium
I didn’t really understand what the hype was about until I got to Bama. First of all, it is so massive you can see it from any point on campus. It has a maximum capacity just shy of 102,000 while Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, only holds 61,500. Not to mention, I’ve never been to a single Alabama game where people weren’t practically spilling out of the stadium. If that doesn’t tell you how big Alabama football is, I don’t know what will.
They’re everywhere on gameday, wearing the same navy jacket and khaki pants, no matter the weather. Putting them in dark coats in a giant metal stadium baking under the 90-degree heat is probably considered hazing at any other school (or just outside of the SEC). However, as long as they have a Natty Light in their hand and a sorority sticker somewhere on their jacket they’re probably alright.
6. The Weather
It honestly doesn’t matter to Bama fans. Come hell or high water, they will be there. The first game of the season sends multiple people to the hospital from dehydration, but that doesn’t stop anyone. Neither does the “cold” at the end of the season, or any torrential downpours like the one at the 2015 LSU game.
7. “Roll Tide” and “Sweet Home Alabama”
It is almost impossible to count how many times you hear these phrases on Gameday. Some people have even turned it into a drinking game. All I can say is you better learn the words to “Sweet Home Alabama” before your first game and that the best response when you hear “Roll Tide” is just “Roll Tide.”
No matter who Bama is playing/beating that week, Auburn is always enemy #1. You never wear orange, especially not with blue. You never mention the word “eagle” or “tiger” (they really need to settle on a mascot already).
Roll Tide, "y'all."