ALABAMA: Tradition holds that the Tide's elephant mascot dates to 1930 when Atlanta Journal sports writer Everett Strupper wrote that a fan called out: "Hold your horses, the elephants are coming." The "Red Elephant" nickname for the linemen stuck. The Big Al mascot made his official debut in the 1979 Sugar Bowl, when Alabama claimed its second straight national title with a win over Penn State. A game-saving goal line stand stole some of Big Al's thunder.
NOTRE DAME: The Leprechaun became the official mascot of the Fighting Irish in 1965, though four years earlier a student first donned the costume and roamed the sidelines. Leprechaun tryouts consist of a five-minute mock pep rally, an interview with a local media personality, responding to game situations, answering Notre Dame trivia, dancing an Irish jig, and doing 50 push-ups.
— KEEPING IN STEP
ALABAMA: The Crimsonettes, a group of energetic dancers, entertain crowds at various sporting events. They're chosen based on dancing skills, physical fitness and the ability to learn the group routine, according to the school's Web site.
NOTRE DAME: The Irish Guard. Formed in 1949 as a part of the University of Notre Dame Marching Band, the guards wear a uniform of traditional Scottish kilt and Notre Dame tartan. To the top of the shako, a guard stands 7-feet tall, and the game-day inspection of the Guard usually draws a crowd — though not for the same reasons the Crimsonettes do.
ALABAMA: Roll Tide, Roll Tide. "Yea Alabama" was written by the editor of the student newspaper, The Rammer-Jammer, in a contest that followed a win over Washington in the 1926 Rose Bowl. The lyrics include: "You're Dixie's football pride, Crimson Tide! Yea, Alabama! Drown 'em Tide!" The ending call "Roll Tide, Roll Tide" was added later.
NOTRE DAME: Wake Up the Echoes. The "Victory March" was first performed at Notre Dame on Easter Sunday on 1909. Not until 10 years later did it start being played at athletic events. The second verse starts: "Cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame, Wake up the echoes cheering her name."
ALABAMA: John Mitchell became the first African-American to play for the Crimson Tide in 1971 after he transferred from junior college for his final two seasons. He was an All-American defensive end as a senior in 1972. Mitchell is now assistant head coach and defensive line coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he's coached the linemen since 1994. He started his career as Bear Bryant's defensive line coach in 1973 and became the Southeastern Conference's first black defensive coordinator at LSU in 1990. Bryant assistant Jerry Claiborne later said that a 1970 game with Southern California and star Sam Cunningham caught Bryant's attention and "did more to integrate Alabama in 60 minutes than Martin Luther King did in 20 years."
NOTRE DAME: Defensive lineman Wayne Edmonds, from rural Pennsylvania, became the first African-American to earn a monogram on the football team in 1953. He and Richard Washington were the first black student-athletes to play in a game. The 1953 team went undefeated, a season when Georgia Tech refused to play Notre Dame at home because of the black players on the Fighting Irish and the game was moved to South Bend.
— CAMPUS SHRINE
ALABAMA: If there's not necessarily a "Touchdown Jesus" equivalent, there is Denny Chimes, where the football team captains get to leave their indelible marks. The base of the tower displays hand and foot impressions of each captain from Tide teams since the 1940s.
NOTRE DAME: The Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes is one-seventh the size of the French shrine where the Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Bernadette in 1858. Visitors pass by peacefully, light candles and say prayers — probably a few for a Fighting Irish victory.