What is in a football team’s name? Throughout the NCAA football season, we constantly hear the names of various teams as we watch games, learn scores, and manage our college fantasy football squads. However, we rarely think about the origins of various schools’ names. Here are some of the fascinating stories about some NCAA schools’ names:
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
In the history of NCAA football, Alabama has become one of the most successful teams. However, have you ever wondered about the history of the team’s name? Newspapers originally referred to the football name as “Crimson White.” This alluded to the school colors. It later became the “Thin Red Line.” However, in a 1907 game between Alabama and Auburn, the two teams battled in a sea of red mud. Thus, Alabama became the “Crimson Tide.”
2. Penn State Nittany Lions
We are familiar with mountain Lions, but what is the significance of Penn State’s “Nittany” Lions? It all began with a Penn State graduate named H.D. “Joe” Mason.
Mason became inspired after seeing a live Princeton tiger on its campus. A Penn State newspaper then sponsored Mason’s quest to choose a mascot for Penn State. The school ultimately chose a lion, and it is most likely the first college to have a lion as its mascot. The “Nittany” refers to the school’s location at the base of Mount Nittany. According to local Native American legend, Nittany (also Nita-Nee) was an American Indian princess.
3. Arkansas Razorbacks
Before they were the Razorbacks, Arkansas was the Cardinals. Students selected the mascot, due to the school’s colors of cardinal and white. The name “Razorbacks” originated from a talk that the first paid Arkansas football coach, Hugo Bezdek, made to the students of Arkansas. Bezdek gave the talk after the school’s seventh victory during the season. He observed that the team had played like a “wild band of Razorback Hogs.” The rest, as they say, is history. Starting in 1910, Arkansas had a new mascot: The Razorbacks.
4. Oklahoma Sooners
Oklahoma has become renowned for its play on the gridiron. However, have you ever wondered what exactly a Sooner is? Prior to the U.S. government’s opening of regions in the Indian Territory for settlement, Sooners were actually people who entered the lands illegally. “Sooners” first referred to settlers in 1889 who moved onto the Oklahoma Lands prior to 12:00 noon on April 22, 1889.
5. Tennessee Volunteers
We all know what volunteers are. However, to which volunteers does the name of the Tennessee Volunteers refer? During the early portion of the War of 1812, Tennessee earned the nickname, “The Volunteer State.” President James Madison ordered General Andrew Jackson to enlist 1,500 volunteer soldiers from Tennessee. The troops were to battle Native Americans and the British, but they never fought during the war. General Andrew Jackson would later become the U.S. president.
Every fact we learn about NCAA football, can help us to appreciate it better. For instance learning the history of NCAA schools’ names increases our appreciation for their games.