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Roll Tide is a rallying cry among fans of the University of Alabama's sports teams, particularly its football team, known as the Crimson Tide. Its ubiquity has been propagated by several viral videos in which people getting arrested say the phrase.
The origins of the phrase are unclear. A fanpost on Alabama football blog Roll Bama Roll suggests a sea shanty sung on the CSS Alabama called "Roll Alabama Roll" may have influenced the origin of the phrase, but there's no evidence connecting it to the phrase "Roll Tide." Online, it first appeared on Urban Dictionary on March 12th, 2004, with a satirical definition mocking University of Alabama students. A year later, on March 11th, 2005, a more straightforward definition was added (shown below). Often, it is used to antagonize fans of Auburn Football, Alabama's rival.
On April 9th, 2017, SB Nation traced the history of people getting arrested and saying "Roll Tide." The earliest one they note is fan Harvey Updyke calling into a radio show and threatening to poison trees on Auburn's campus, using the phrase "Roll Tide." The audio was uploaded on February 16th, 2011 (shown below). He later did poison the trees and was arrested.
The SB Nation article goes into several other examples of people saying "Roll Tide" while getting arrested. For example, a high school teacher arrested for being on heroin on the job is asked for comment by a news reporter and simply replies "roll tide" (shown below, left). Another man, visibly drunk, is ushered into a police car and slurs the phrase while police officers try not to laugh (shown below, right).
In the mid 2010s, sports network ESPN ran a commercial which featured people saying "roll tide" in various humorous scenarios (shown below).
Guy getting arrested: "Am I on TV…oh, Roll Tide!" #LivePD
bustedcoverage</a> <a href="https://t.co/wz1vhlijqW">pic.twitter.com/wz1vhlijqW</a></p>— Jack McGuire (JackMacCFB) April 9, 2017
 Roll Bama Roll – "The Mysterious Origins of the Phrase Roll Tide
 Urban Dictionary – First Roll Tide Definition
 Urban Dictionary – Top Roll Tide Definition
 SB Nation – An intimate history of people saying 'Roll Tide' while getting arrested
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Penultimate Keyboard Cat
Oct 17, 2017 at 02:53PM EDT
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