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[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?

Discordance: The Cottinghams (Tapestry of Love) (Volume 1) (Paperback)
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Discordance: The Cottinghams (Tapestry of Love) (Volume 1) (Paperback)

By (author):  Causey, Donna R

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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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