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A unique college nickname

Posted by Brian from Shawnee on February 09, 2004

In Reply to: A unique college nickname posted by Bob on February 08, 2004

: : : : I would like to know the origination of names for athletic teams. ones in particular are alabama's "crimson tide", and penn state's "nittnay lions".

: : University of Alabama:
: : : 1892 The University's first football team assembled - the "Thin Red Line" that later became the "Crimson Tide."
: : :

: : The following is from I couldn't get the Traditions page to open. But I found it in a cache and copied it:

: : How the Crimson Tide Got its Name

: : In early newspaper accounts of Alabama football, the team was simply listed as the "varsity" or the "Crimson White" after the school colors.

: : The first nickname to become popular and used by headline writers was the "Thin Red Line." The nickname was used until 1906.

: : The name "Crimson Tide" is supposed to have first been used by Hugh Roberts, former sports editor of the Birmingham Age-Herald. He used "Crimson Tide" in describing an Alabama-Auburn game played in Birmingham in 1907, the last football contest between the two schools until 1948 when the series was resumed. The game was played in a sea of mud and Auburn was a heavy favorite to win.

: : But, evidently, the "Thin Red Line" played a great game in the red mud and held Auburn to a 6-6 tie, thus gaining the name "Crimson Tide." Zipp Newman, former sports editor of the Birmingham News, probably popularized the name more than any other writer.

: :
: : : Penn State:
: : : Myth: The word "Nittany" is derived from Princess Nita-nee,a member of the Native American tribes who once lived in central Pennsylvania.
: : : Fact: Princess Nita-nee was "invented" by author and publisher Henry W. Shoemaker and has no basis whatever in fact. Shoemaker's mention of the princess first appeared in print in 1903. At that time he attributed the tale to "an aged Seneca Indian named Isaac Steele." Shoemaker, a well known Pennsylvania folklorist, later admitted that both Steele and Nita-nee were "purely fictitious."
: : : To learn the REAL origins of "Nittany", go to "All Things Nittany".

: : :
: : : The word "Nittany" seems to have been derived from a Native American term meaning "single mountain." (Since a number of Algonquian-speaking tribes inhabited central Pennsylvania, the term can't be traced to one single group.) These inhabitants applied this description to the mountain that separates Penns Valley and Nittany Valley, overlooking what is today the community of State College and Penn State's University Park campus. The first white settlers in the 1700s apparently adopted this term, or a corruption of it, when they named that mountain, i.e., Mount Nittany or Nittany Mountain. Thus by the time Penn State admitted its first students in 1859, the word "Nittany" was already in use.

: Almost every American college has a nickname for its athletic teams. There are, literally, thousands of them. The most devious is claimed by the irreverent Rhode Island School of Design, a fine school for artists, who are the Nads. Cool.

I can't top that, but I do have a t-shirt from the University of South Carolina that someone gave me long ago. Their teams are called the Gamecocks and the t-shirt says "You can't lick our Cocks". My wife won't let me wear it.