Tradition is the backbone of college football. Especially across the SEC, you’ll find no shortage of iconic songs and chants at every school. The LSU Tigers playing “Callin’ Baton Rouge” stirs everyone into a frenzy. The Florida Gators firing up Tom Petty during the fourth quarter sends The Swamp into mayhem.
Good luck finding many traditions better — or more hated, depending on which side of the scoreboard you’re on — than Alabama’s Rammer Jammer chant.
Alabama’s “Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer”
If Rammer Jammer is played by Alabama’s Million Dollar Band, you’re losing. The taunting song was originally sung with two different versions, one before kickoff and one after the game, but now is only played when an Alabama Crimson Tide victory is within reach. And since head coach Nick Saban took over the program, the Tide have won 170 out of 193 contests from the 2007-20 football seasons…
The fabled chant includes some NSFW language that some people aren’t too fond of. Back in 2005, University of Alabama administrators tried banning Rammer Jammer in a vote. Unfortunately for them, 98 percent of students voted no. This tradition wasn’t going anywhere.
The song is so iconic that author Warren St. John titled his book on the obsession of sports fans after it. The bestseller is aptly named “Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer.” What’s crazy is it isn’t even the Alabama athletics fight song. That distinction belongs to “Yea, Alabama.”
What Does Rammer Jammer Mean?
The Rammer-Jammer was a student humor magazine published on campus back in the 1920s. For nearly three decades, the magazine celebrated UA with cartoons, jokes and articles written by some of Alabama’s most famous students, including Harper Lee, the author of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
As for the yellowhammer, that’s the state bird. Plus, Alabama is nicknamed “The Yellowhammer State.”
“Rammer Jammer” and “yellowhammer” kind of rhyme with Alabama when you add that Southern twang to them, so the combined lyrics were a no-brainer.
Rammer Jammer Lyrics
We just beat the hell outta you!
Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer
Give ’em hell, Alabama!
The cadence for the Rammer Jammer cheer was actually lifted from the Ole Miss cheer Hotty Toddy and made UA’s own. (The Alabama band director still signals the cheer’s start by making a giant ‘O’ with their arm.) Typically sung two times near the end of a Crimson Tide football victory, the cheerleaders and fans aren’t shy about belting it numerous times.
After beating the Auburn Tigers for the first time in six years during the 2008 Iron Bowl, the Million Dollar Band and Alabama fans sang Rammer Jammer, accordingly, six times. Bama will play it after scoring endless touchdowns on anyone — from Tennessee to Clemson to Georgia.
Anyone who loves the Alabama football team down in Tuscaloosa knows the traditions. You can’t turn a corner on game day without hearing “Roll Tide!” as people tailgate in Tide T-shirts before an Alabama football game. Statues of the school’s national championship and conference-winning coaches from Bear Bryant to Nick Saban dawn the Walk of Champions outside Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Fandom rages on in every corner of the college football world, but perhaps no traditions are stronger than the fans wearing crimson and white.
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This post was originally published on March 26, 2020.