NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- Texas defensive tackles/special teams coordinator Mike Tolleson is familiar with Alabama history and tradition.
The native of Anniston, Ala., began his career as an assistant coach in Lineville, Ala., in 1971, and later served as an assistant Guntersville and Minor high schools in the state. He also served as a graduate assistant and defensive coordinator at Livingston University and was a defensive line coach for the old Birmingham Stallions of the USFL in 1984-85.
Not only has he told his players about growing up there, but has also retold many of the legendary stories surrounding Alabama football.
"Coach 'Tolly' is a born-and-raised 'Bama boy," Texas defensive tackle LaMarr Houston said. "He's had a couple of stories about the history of the Alabama program."
Houston then retold the story about how Alabama got its nickname of the Crimson Tide and why an elephant is the Alabama mascot. The Crimson Tide dates from a 1907 game against Auburn, when sportswriter Hugh Roberts of the Birmingham Age-Herald referred to the "Thin Red Line" that led to a 6-6 upset of heavily favored Auburn. And the elephant dates to 1930 when a huge Alabama line overwhelmed Mississippi.
"We've learned all about the history," Houston said. "He told us about the previous games between Texas and Alabama and the previous games. He's a great coach and has told us those stories about the Crimson Tide as we got ready. We've heard all about it."