10 Questions with Crimson Tide Mascot Big Al


Bama Hammer writers have an opportunity to meet interesting people associated with Tide history. When we do, we like to share the experience with our readers. Here’s a new feature, which we will do sporadically at best (just being honest), called 10 Questions with…

For the inaugural 10 Questions, we talked to one of Alabama’s most recognizable figures — Big Al.

1. What is the process you have to go through to become Big Al?

There is a 3-day tryout every April during the weekend of A-Day (the spring game). The first day consists of interview and clinic, where the candidates learn the walk and character of Big Al. The second day will consist of more clinic and being judged on the walk and participating in a band cheer. There is a cut after that. That afternoon, the candidates learn about skit-making. They either come prepared with a minute-and-a-half skit or they can make one at tryouts. That afternoon, they perform their skits for a score, and then there is the final cut before A-day. Whoever makes the final cut is invited to A-day for the final tryout, which consists of a “field walk” before the game. This is where they are scored for going in public in a non-athletic event setting and interacting with the public. After this, they go to A-Day and perform for 10-15 minutes during the game, mimicking a “normal” gameday atmosphere. The final announcement of the team happens immediately following the game.

2. People see Big Al and it always looks like you are having a great time but there is a lot of work involved. What is your typical week like in preparation for a game?

The suit can reach temperatures up to 30-40 degrees hotter than the outside temperature. For example, if you are shivering in a 60 degree room, and I walk in in the suit, I am at 90-100 degrees. With that said, you lose a LOT of water. I begin drinking water constantly on Wednesday before each game. I also drink water constantly beginning the day before basketball games and gymnastics meets.

3. Aside from football games, what are some of the other things you do (TV shows, competitions, etc.)?

WVUA typically has us before football season begins as well as Iron Bowl week. We have UCA College Mascot camp, which is hosted here during the summer. We also film year-round to compile a highlight video, which qualifies Big Al for the UCA National College Mascot Championship. The top 10 scoring videos are invited to compete in January at Walt Disney World. Top competitors are Aubie from Auburn, Goldy the Gopher from the University of Minnesota, Sparty from Michigan State University, and Mike the Tiger from LSU. This year, Big Al finished 6th, with Aubie winning.

4. You interact with the mascots from other schools a lot. What are some interesting experiences you have had with opponents?

We are actually not allowed to interact on the field with other mascots. It is a University rule because of an incident back in 2002 between Seymour from Southern Miss and Big Al at a game in Bryant Denny. The fights are scripted before the game, but Seymour decided to do a little improv. The rules are that Big Al “loses” the fight in front of the visitors’ section, and Big Al dominates in front of the student section. Apparently, Seymour wasn’t having that, so Big Al put him in his place – meaning he knocked Seymour’s head off.

5. On a given Saturday, you are one of the most popular people in a room of 100,000. Does it ever bother you that people almost never see the person behind the character?

I prefer they never see me. Now that my tenure as Big Al is up, I don’t mind people knowing. It is always fun to do something really funny at a game on Saturday, and hearing people in class that don’t know me talk about things they saw Big Al do at the game, and not knowing that it was me in the suit. (granted that has only happened one time, but it was still cool, no less!)

6. You get asked to make a lot of public appearances. What’s the strangest request you have had?

The strangest request we have ever had was for Big Al to be the pallbearer at a funeral. We declined it.

7. Are there any stunts you have wanted to do that they just won’t allow you to try?

No. We want to do things that the suit doesn’t allow us to do, however. Skydiving, scuba diving, and bungee jumping.

8. How many people currently serve as Big Al and how many costumes are there?

Come on, there is only one Big Al! 😉

9. How do you survive during some of the really hot weather games?

*see game preparation*

10. What are your plans after Big Al?

I have 1-1.5 years of school left. I plan to attend Grad school at Alabama or Vanderbilt for a Masters in Higher Education.

Follow Sleepwriter on Twitter.