[1926 film and vintage pics] Many people say this California/ University of Alabama football game changed the south forever

The game that inspired the University of Alabama fight song, “Yea Alabama,” was also Alabama’s first national championship. The 1926 Rose Bowl Game held on January 1, 1926, in Pasadena, California had an even greater impact.

It has been considered by many that this game actually ‘changed the south forever.’

1925 University of Alabama Football team


Last four lines of the song reflect the change

The last four lines of the fight song, composed by a University of Alabama music student named Ethelred Sykes after the Rose Bowl victory, reflect this change.

“Fight on, fight on, fight on, men!
Remember the Rose Bowl we’ll win then!
Go, roll to victory, Hit your stride,
You’re Dixie’s football pride, Crimson Tide!”

The win at the Rose Bowl provided an opportunity to restore prestige and honor back to the south that had been ravaged by the Civil War.i Over sixty years had passed since the War between the states, but many older southerners remembered the war and the terrible days of Reconstruction afterward.

The team represented the banner for the entire South

The South also was motivated by a national press that was critical of almost anything associated with the South, from the size of the southern brain cavity to the quality of its football. Thus, the Rose Bowl invitation to the University of Alabama (UA), the first team in the South to be so honored, set up what has been recognized by many historians and sports fans as the most important game in southern football history. Alabama was not simply representing its home state in a football game; it was carrying the banner for the entire South. One historian, in emphasizing the importance of the game’s outcome, characterized it as an inspiration to southerners who had for so long been burdened by the combined effects of poverty and political and social isolation resulting from a demoralizing military defeat. ii

The 1926 Rose Bowl invitation to the University of Alabama was the opportunity for a southern team to play on a national stage and prove wrong the prevailing belief that southerners played an inferior quality of football.

Coach Wallace Wade


First undefeated season

The 1925 Crimson Tide football team, led by Coach Wallace Wade, had the first undefeated season in team history, yet, southern football teams were considered so inferior at the time in the ‘college football world’ that it wasn’t until Dartmouth, Yale and Colgate turned down the Rose Bowl invitation that the University of Alabama was invited.

The pressure on the University of Alabama team was heavy. Besides carrying the worthiness of southern football on their shoulders, they had to travel by train many days across the country to California and face a heavily favored University of Washington team while the Washington team practiced at home in Seattle.

Team carried the honor of the South

Before the University of Alabama team left, they were inundated with telegrams instigated by Tide booster, Champ Pickens. He urged all civic clubs in Tuscaloosa to send telegrams to players to remind them that the honor of the South was on their shoulders. What a tremendous responsibility these young players must have felt!

The UA team gave up their Christmas holidays and practiced for three weeks. They even stopped along the way to California for a scrimmage and stopped several times to jog on their journey. After reaching Pasadena, Coach Wade continued with tough practices in the week before the game.

Coach Wallace Wade gives last minute instructions
to the Alabama team before the game starts27rosebowl003

All Alabama’s points were in one quarter

Alabama only needed the third quarter to win the January 1, 1926, Rose Bowl game. All 20 Crimson Tide’s points were made in the third quarter when they defeated the heavily favored Washington Huskies with a 20-19 victory.

A near-capacity crowd of 45,000 watched the game on January 1, 1926. The game made its radio broadcast debut, with Charles Paddock, a sports writer, and former Olympian track star, at the microphone. Washington jumped ahead with a 12-0 lead before half time. However, in the second half, the University of Alabama came back and scored three touchdowns in less than seven minutes to take the lead 20-12.

Near-capacity crowd watches game


The first touchdown was scored by Quarterback Allison ‘Pooley’ Hubert while Johnny ‘Mack’ Brown; scored the next two.

Allison ‘Pooley Hubert dives for touchdownallison pooley hubert dives

Washington scored one more time, but Alabama won with a score of 20-19. Johnny Mack Brown make a game-saving tackle in the last seconds of the play.

Johnny ‘Mack’ Brown in Rose Bowl 1926

Johnny Mack Brown runs

Proud Southerners greet Alabama team

As you can imagine, the team was met with proud southerners in many southern towns they passed on their return home. They were often greeted with brass bands and speeches. Even students at rival, Tulane University, cheered the team when it stopped in New Orleans.

Once they reached Tuscaloosa, it took the train an hour to progress from the depot to downtown due to all the fans climbing on the roof to catch a glimpse of the players. A parade was held that ended in the Quadrangle with speeches and many accolades to follow.

The win raised the status of southern football forever, and teams throughout the South played in 13 of the next 20 Rose Bowls until the Rose Bowl entered into an agreement with the Big 10 Conference to provide the opponent for a team from the Pacific 10 Conference on the West Coast. This agreement is still in effect today and has been honored, with occasional exceptions.

Allison ‘Pooley’ Hubert


Allison T. ‘Pooley’ Hubert became the college football coach at Southern Mississippi and Virginia Military Institute. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1964.

Johnny ‘Mack’ Brown, born in Dothan, Alabama later went to Hollywood and had a successful career in the films. He was portrayed on the Wheaties cereal boxes in 1927 and played in silent films as Mary Pickford’s love interest. In 1930, he played Billy the Kid. He later made many Western films, with a career spanning over forty years.

Johnny ‘Mack’ Brown performing in a western movie


“After graduating in 1926, Epp Sykes studied law for a year at UA then became an account executive with Sparrow Advertising Agency in Birmingham. In 1940 Sykes was called into active duty by the U.S. Air Force. He served in both World War II and the Korea conflict, eventually rising to the rank of  Brigadier General. In 1947 he donated the copyright and future royalties of “Yea Alabama” to the University of Alabama. He died on July 1, 1967.”

Epp Sykes

epp sykes

Alabama had played in a total of six Rose Bowl games since 1926 (1926, 1927, 1931, 1935, 1938, 1946). They have won four, tied one and lost one. Coach Wade was inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 1990.

In an agreement with the Big 10, the Rose Bowl avoided southern teams for many years. On January 7, 2010, Alabama defeated the University of Texas to win the 2009 BCS National Championship game played in the Rose Bowl stadium, 83 years after its first appearance.


Check out all books by Donna R Causey

Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) – A novel inspired by the experiences of the Cottingham family who immigrated from the Eastern Shore of Virginia to Bibb County, Alabama Filled with drama, suspense, humor, and romance, DISCORDANCE continues the family saga from the Tapestry of Love series with the children of Mary Dixon who married Thomas Cottingham.

Inspired by true events and the Cottingham family that resided in 17th century Somerset, Maryland and Delaware, colonial America comes alive with pirate attacks, religious discord, and governmental disagreements in the pre-Revolutionary War days of America.

Orphaned at an early age, the Cottngham siblings face pirate attacks, illness, injuries, and the disappearance of a loved as they try to establish their lives in the wilds of early America. Will they prevail or be torn apart over the issue of slavery?



  1. I am so proud to have Alabama Pioneers , you do excellent articles from around the state. I love history and especially Alabama History and y’all do a Great job.

  2. What a greatarticle on the history our Alabama Crimson Tide . My father was there to welcome the team home. Still have an original copy of the “Will to Win”, published by Champ Pickens. Great pictures, so glad my Dad was a Roll Tide fan..

  3. […] Hours later, the first-ever radio broadcast of the Rose Bowl introduced another New Year’s Day tradition to the national consciousness — and just by the by, changed the South forever. […]

  4. I stood on the c9orner of 18th stret and queen city avenue in1931 and watched the foiotball team as they waLKED UP QUEEN CITY AVENUE FROM THE DEPOT TO THE CAMPUS. IT IS SOMETHING I WILL NEVER FORGET

  5. My father, James Edgar Skidmore, played on this team that went to 1926 Rose Bowl. Happy memories listening to his stories about the game as well as the trip there and back. What a journey for a country boy from Franklin County, Tennessee.

    1. My Mom, Estelle Skidmore, was born in Winchester, Franklin County, Tn. Probably related to your Dad. I always loved visiting relatives there. So sad most are now deceased.

  6. […] The University of Alabama football team had an outstanding record, and was invited to play in the Rose Bowl against Stanford. The train trip across the country took many days for the team to travel. As a proud fan, J.D. […]

  7. John Graham

  8. June Dollar Jennifer Hendrix

  9. Great reading Learned a lot thanks for sharing

  10. […] [1926 film] Many people say this University of Alabama football game changed the south forever […]

  11. Great article!! Loved the history of the game being about the South!

  12. As a child, I was told that ALABAMA won the Rose Bowl so often, that the
    Rose Bowl changed the Rules so that ALABAMA could not play in the Rose Bowl!

    1. My mother told me the same thing! She was born in 1920 and remembered listening to Rose Bowl games on the radio.

    2. Where was auburn at.back then and now ha ha ha war buzzard.

    3. Bama last played in the Rose in January 1946 after the ’45 season. They beat USC by three TDs and the Pac and Big Ten made an agreement to exclude other conferences starting with the very next year(’46 season). The west coast teams said they were tired of playing teams that played “billy ball”. They were tired of getting that ass kicked by people they deemed to be less-than. Their egos couldn’t handle it. Roll Tide.

  13. Sure would like to have one of those pocket watches.

  14. I was there! It was a prestigious and historic event. The Million dollar band was only worth about $250. Things changed.

  15. Enough of the bammer stuff… OK?

  16. Love my bama boys thanks for a great year. Roll tide!

  17. A good story, been awhile since I read about it,, champions then champions now. RTR

  18. Q Daughter of Africa we could be as black as a skillet yellow as a banana or as light as any albino if you can prove that you are a son and daughter of mother Africa you are chosen for a time like this in this land is the Empire Ethiopian Empire in total recall those who are at home and those who are abroad the only clause and it is not Santa you must come together as one to get your entitlements and inheritance the scandal will be over the Empire will be launched the first 48 hours will be yours we have won Q

    1. This sounds like a Sarah Palin speech.

  19. My Dad would have loved this! He thought the Bear was the closest thing to Christ you could get!

  20. Delores King Moore Travis Moore

  21. I thought bama won their first national championship in 1961.

  22. Nice video! Thanks from sharing! But the parade took place as scheduled at 11:00 AM. Not sure where the ‘noon’ time came from. 🙂

  23. I new one man from my hometown Roy that played on that team…He was proud of it..

  24. A year or so ago I acted on an impulse and sought to find out if Johnny Mack Brown had Indians in his ancestry, his hair and facial features seemed to suggest that. When I read that Johnny’s Mother had told him that an Indian princess named Sehoy was part of their heritage, my heart skipped a beat. Sehoy was the name of a very prominent Creek lady who was married to Alexander McGillivray, leader of the Muskogee (Creek) Nation in the latter part of the eighteenth century. But when I found out that Johnny’s Mother’s maiden name was McGillivray, I was ecstatic! Not only did Johnny Mack Brown have Indian blood, he came from Muskogee royalty!

  25. Please NOTE! First championship 1926 ,not 1925 as claimed.

    1. When the game is Played on January 1st of 1926 it’s for the Championship of 1925

    2. Then it should be a 1925 championship.Not 1926

    3. You must not keep up with college football because every year it’s that way..Bama won this year in January and they aren’t the 2016 Champs..they won the Championship for the 2015 season

  26. Yea Alabama sounds just as good today as it did back then.

  27. There is so much pride in Southern football and I love it!! My Grandfather is William Wallace Wade and to me, he was Ump ( a name that my oldest sister came up with). After his successful years at Alabama, he went to Duke and continued the winning tradition. Roll Tide Roll and go Duke!!

  28. My mother, Birdie Stone Garrett and was in school at Bama that year. I have a newspaper clipping she saved

  29. Would be nice to post names of players on that team.

  30. Johnny Mack Brown was on that team.

    1. His was one of the only names mentioned.

    2. Yes. Became famous in Hollywood. RTR

    3. I know all about Johnny Mack Brown. My Daddy loved old cowboy movies. However, to us, Brown was most known for being “the Dothan antelope” when he played for Bama!

  31. Thanks to President George Denny, the Crimson Tide and Southern football tradition began!

    1. Actually Alabama football started in 1892. Denny came to Alabama 20 years later in 1912.

  32. Gwendolyn Tucker Lindsey, Amanda McDonald, Brad McDonald, Robbie Lamon Clark, Rebecca Watson Lewis

    1. Thanks for sharing this, Locksley.

  33. Brian Wallace and Kelly Watkins Wallace

  34. Gayle DeGraffenried Waldo Phillip Casteel

  35. I have a card of the 1934 team (Rose Bowl & National Champs) signed by Joe Riley a member of that 1934 squad. Also his card signed by him.

  36. Drew Garland Dylan Grogan Mark Garland

  37. The 1970 game at Legion Field between Alabama and Southern California had a huge social impact on the South as well.

  38. This is what I am talking about people ! It’s not JUST who’s the coach it’s Just a fact …. It’s ALABAMA !! But coaching DOES matter , it’s BAMA !

  39. Wait didn’t Alabama tie Standford in that game? Stanford had 300 yards to Alabama’s 90? Stanford won 10 games bama 9? Not to mention there was two more undeafed teams that year and all four claim the championship?

    1. No they beat Washington 20-19 !

    2. More Auburn fan halucinations.

    3. Warren Shirley I don’t believe he sobered up yet.

    4. Where facts don’t matter…

    5. So many claims I just got my dates mixed up. Maybe look at 41, Bama 8-2, 20th ranked beat by Mississippi state and Vandy claims national championship. That’s just another LOL!

    6. It’s been referred to as mystical national championships but since 1960 Alabama has counted 12, since they have been trying to get the two best and now 4 best teams together to try to decide who’s best Alabama has won five. I would say they have accounted well for themselves. Makes me wonder how many more they might have won if they would have started this playoff earlier.

    7. Babe Pearce of Meridian, Ms blocked Stanford’s punt at their 42 and Bama recovered at the 14. Bama scored and tied the game at 7- 7. Babe passed away in Meridian in 2001 at age 94.

    8. No, get your facts straight.

    9. I love it when we beat the national champs…. Again. WAR EAGLE boys.

    10. I love it when we ARE the National Champs Roll Tide

  40. These players are so small by today’s standards! Grit!!

  41. Roll Tide the pride of Alabama and all of college football.

  42. Tammy Stokes Cantrell
    Kimmie Smith
    Nancy Paul Walters
    Mark Trotter


  43. Co-Champions. Stanford and Lafayette College.

  44. Bama students don’t know their fight song, the know Yea Alabama Crimson Tide yad, yad……..that’s it

  45. My dad played in Pasadena for Bama in 1946. They beat Southern California but Army was given the championship rating due to the war. Dad passed away at the end of 2009 and his ashes were scattered on the field in Pasadena when Bama beat Texas in January 2010.

  46. They played(and beat) Stanford in the 1935 Rose Bowl. Dixie Howell and Don Hutson were the stars for the Tide. I’m trying to remember the name of the “Other End”. Was his first name Paul?

  47. There are others who say that the 1970 season opener against USC initiated a trend that changed the south forever.

  48. Wish I could post the photo of my Granddaddy, Richard Cain, in his Alabama Football 1908 uniform with his team mates. My Dad also played for Bama

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