Hugh Roberts, an editor for the Birmingham Age-Herald, first penned the term "Crimson Tide." This first reference to Alabama as the Crimson Tide occurred in Hugh Roberts' coverage of the Alabama-Auburn game held in Birmingham in 1907.
Just seven years earlier in 1900, newspaper articles referenced the team as "Crimson White," the school's official colors. Eventually the team received the nickname the "Thin Red Line," and this nickname persisted into 1906.
In the 1907 game that Hugh Roberts covered, Auburn was the favorite to win, but the "Thin Red Line" held Auburn to a 6-6 tie in the midst of an extremely muddy game. Because the team played such a great game in the red mud against Auburn, they received the nickname "Crimson Tide." Although Hugh Roberts was the first to use the term "Crimson Tide," another sports editor for the Birmingham News, Zipp Newman, was the most influential in popularizing the term in the media.
Fans later began to associate the team with the elephant as well, in the 1930 football season under the direction of Coach Wallace Wade. A sports writer at the time for the Atlanta Journal referred to the linemen in their crimson uniforms as "Red Elephants".