Most students at The University of Alabama know the routine for home football games: tailgating on the Quad, watching the Traditions video before kickoff, and singing “Rammer Jammer” after a Crimson Tide victory. But when students venture out from the south end zone of Bryant-Denny Stadium and become the visiting team, new traditions and culture are introduced to transform the Gameday experience.
Many students agree that even during away games, Saturday is only about one thing: football. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Death Valley, on The Plains, or at The Swamp, the weekend is all about cheering on your team when they take the field.
Zack Morris, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering, said his time at the 2011 Ole Miss game was a highlight of his college career.
“The game was a great experience,” he said. “All of the Ole Miss fans we encountered were super nice and helpful, and the atmosphere in Oxford was outstanding. You could really tell they cared about football but also respected the game and the fans of the opposing team.”
Morris also said learning about the opposing team’s culture and traditions added more fun and excitement to his first away game experience.
“This was my first away game as a student, so I was excited to experience something other than the traditions around Tuscaloosa,” Morris said. “The game was at night, so we left early in order to explore Oxford and the Grove. I would definitely advise getting there early if you can. It’s a lot more fun to get to experience everything about the college rather than just the game.”
Michael Elder, a junior majoring in accounting, said when flooded by a sea of orange and blue or purple and gold, UA students form a closer connection with their allies in crimson, and away game wins are especially rewarding.
“It’s always great to bond with fellow Bama fans in the stadiums, as you’re obviously outnumbered,” Elder said. “But it makes it all the much sweeter when we leave victorious.”
Elder has attended games in every stadium with the exceptions of Texas A&M, Missouri and Kentucky. He said every stadium has its own culture and charm and he would visit again.
Cost is not a worrisome factor for most UA students. Many students come up with creative ways to save a few dollars while following the Tide to victory in foreign stadiums.
“Each trip is relatively inexpensive as long as you can find about four or six others to chip in for gas and a hotel,” Elder said.
Kelvin Williams, a graduate student at the University who attended the Penn State game in 2011, said his friends came up with an alternative to staying in a hotel.
“The trip wasn’t too expensive,” Williams said. “We saved money by using CouchSurfing.org. The only other real expenses were gas and food, which weren’t too much.”
Williams said his trip to Penn State was affordable and fun, but sacrificing entire weekends for away games far from Tuscaloosa may be a bit of a stretch for some students.
“Overall, the trip was definitely worth it, but I don’t know if I would make a trip like that many times while in school,” he said. “You really have to love your team to give up many weekends like that, but most of us do love our team that much.”
Whether on the road or in the heart of Bryant-Denny Stadium, most students agree: There’s nothing quite like cheering on the Crimson Tide.