clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

WE WANT BAMA: A complete history of college football’s favorite overly confident meme

Be careful what you wish for.

To be the man, you gotta beat the man. And for much of the last decade, the man has been Nick Saban. His Alabama Crimson Tide are the current gold standard. That leads to three overly confident words being uttered by fans of teams experiencing any modicum of success: “We want Bama.”

I assure you that you likely don’t want Bama. There are about 125 teams in FBS who don’t really have a prayer of matching up with the Tide on talent alone. Alabama’s lost eight games since 2010, and three of them were bowl games against teams with somewhat similar talent. Other than that, it takes a few acts of God like a Johnny Manziel to do the trick.

I asked an FBS head coach once about fans chanting “we want Bama.” His response: “Shooooooot. Nope. [The fans] want ’em ’cause they don’t have to stand up and block ’em.”

1. What started as a sincere challenge devolved into an ironic meme around 2013 or so.

You still see it pop up every time a team overachieves.

The fine folks at SEC Shorts put together something to curb the epidemic.

2. The movement started in college football, of course, where plenty of challenges are sincere at the time, and some even deliver.



Man, 2013 was a long time ago.

Florida State

Honestly, that 2013 FSU team probably would have been able to take Bama. They beat Auburn in the national title that season.

Penn State

Massive victory over Michigan. You already know they want the Tide.



Ask ...

... and keep asking ...

... and ye shall receive a Playoff ass whooping in which you only cross the 50-yard line twice.


It’s been six tries since the Tigers got a win against the Tide.

But they will never log off.

It worked in 2011, though. For a while.


Nobody wants Bama quite like Auburn wants Bama. Charles Barkley demonstrates:

The Tigers would use divine intervention when they got Bama in 2013.

Ohio State

Actually got Bama and beat Bama.


A since-deleted Vine showed Cardinal OL Joshua Garnett shouting the phrase after winning the 2016 Rose Bowl.


NCAA Football: Central Florida at Temple Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa State

Amid a surprise Big 12 run:





Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason made it a point to set a deadline for celebrating his program’s 3-0 start and 14-7 win over No. 18 Kansas State. At midnight coaches and players would begin to face down the inevitability that is No. 1 Alabama, headed to Nashville next week for a nationally televised CBS game.

“Man, give me my hour and 45 minutes, please,” Mason said at 10:15 p.m. local time.

Vanderbilt lost by 59 points.

Hoover high school

The school from the show Two-A-Days absolutely wants Bama.

3. It’s not a new thing.

The whole thing might be Tennessee’s fault, per a 2002 book about the Vols:

The Volunteers of 1980 were not a good football team, but they had a splendid outing at Auburn. They just plain trampled the Tigers, 42-0, and Tennessee’s delirious fans chanted, “We want ‘Bama, We want ‘Bama.”

As fate would have it, the third Saturday in October came around and so did the Crimson Tide. By halftime, Vols fans were very quiet. Alabama had amassed 238 yards, and Tennessee was stuck at minus-2.

4. But even in college football, plenty of fans who Want Bama don’t actually Want Bama.


During a 4-8 season? Yeah. Gators want Bama. LOL JK.

Northern Illinois


Granted, the Huskies did beat the Tide in 2003.

Washington State

North Texas

North Texas!

Western Michigan

WMU made an entire GameDay out of the phrase.


Beat Clemson? Speak your truth.


This wasn’t 2017 BYU, but 2017 BYU certainly does not want Bama.


I mean, maybe in journalism?




New blood in the SEC thought they wanted Bama. They were wrong. The Tigers have lost by a combined score of 84-23 in the two meetings since joining the conference. This is more Mizzou’s speed:

Kansas State

The other basketball version:


Richard Johnson, SB Nation

SUNY Maritime

And even North Korea?

Texas A&M

Still want Bama? These school children learned just what happens when you say you want It.

Ball State

This one’s incredible ...

... because Tide fans responded a few days later at GameDay.

5. Some fans aren’t quite all in on Wanting Bama just yet.

Penn State, previously


Dawgs and Tide might just get a matchup in 2017’s SEC title game.


This is probably the right idea:

6. Bama takes it all in stride, but still uses it as fuel.

On Washington’s signs:

“I guess you could call it a compliment,” Alabama offensive lineman Bradley Bozeman said. “We’re at the No. 1 spot right now, and everyone wants to knock off the No. 1. So whoever happens to be there, that’s who they make the signs about it.”

“Some people take it as comedy,” Bozeman said. “But I guess when it comes to Washington and other teams at the collegiate level, it’s a little more serious.”

However, one of UW’s We Want Bama signs made it onto Bama’s bulletin board.

Bama fans, meanwhile, just say this kind of thing every few weeks:

7. At this point, Wanting Bama transcends college football.

After winning five preseason games, the Portland Trail Blazers wanted Bama.

As did the Cleveland Browns during a disappointing 2016.

A youth league team in Mobile wanted Bama.

The USMNT wanted Bama at the World Cup.

And even I am guilty of invoking the coveting of the Tide. My English soccer team of choice (Tottenham Hotspur) Wants Bama, says me.

But this goes to show the ubiquitous nature of the Tide’s dominance. At some point, we will all Want Bama.

8. There will be others foolish enough to wish the Tide upon themselves.

Maybe they’ll get ’em, and maybe they won’t. But it never hurts to ask.

Actually, yeah, it usually does.