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An outside-the-lines guide to the title game

Mon., Jan. 9, 2012

So you are planning to watch the BCS championship tonight between No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama but maybe you’re not the biggest college football fan. We’ve got you covered with everything you need for a well-informed and enjoyable game-watching experience.

Suiting up

As an ode to the late, great Alabama coach Paul Bryant, Crimson Tide fans are fond of wearing clothing with a Houndstooth pattern to match the Bear’s famous hat. So if you want to feel like a real ’Bama backer, you might want to raid your grandfather’s closet.

LSU fans like to accessorize with Mardi Gras beads, especially when their team is playing in New Orleans, its home away from its Baton Rouge home. How you go about getting those Mardi Gras beads is your own business.


Alabama’s Big Al is a student in an elephant costume. LSU’s Mike the Tiger is a 6-year-old Bengal/Siberian mix with a 15,000-square feet habitat on campus that includes large oak trees and a waterfall.

Rally cries

For Alabama fans, “Roll Tide” is used as a greeting. Or a compliment. Or a threat. Or a proclamation. Or an exclamation. It is both a question and an answer. If you’ve seen the ESPN commercial showing the varied and odd ways Alabama fans use the phrase, understand this: That was NOT an exaggeration.

LSU’s “Tiger Bait” call has a far less ambiguous meaning: “We plan to feed you to Mike.”

National titles

At some point you might hear that Alabama claims 13 national titles, more than any program in the country. It’s a claim fans of other teams tend to roll their eyes at because it includes four from before there were major polls handing out championships in 1936, and another in 1941 that was bequeathed to a two-loss Crimson Tide team by the Houlgate System. Tide fans argue all national titles are mythical. Skeptics counter that some are more mythical than others.

LSU has won three national titles (1958, 2003, 2007), but even that comes with some controversy. The Tigers were BCS champions in ‘03 under then-coach Nick Saban, but Southern California was No. 1 in both polls before the bowls. When LSU beat Oklahoma in the BCS title game, it made the Tigers No. 1 in the coaches’ poll. USC was voted No. 1 in The Associated Press media poll, which was then part of the BCS formula.

WARNING: Do not ask an LSU fan about that SPLIT national title with USC.

Ralph D. Russo, Associated Press

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