The origin of the mascot dates back to 1930. On October 8, a sportswriter wrote about the previous weekend's Alabama-Ole Miss football game. The writer, using the flair for the dramatic common in sportswriting at the time, wrote that an anonymous fan yelled out "Hold your horses, the elephants are coming!" upon hearing the rumble of the first team coming on the field. The name stuck throughout what became a national championship season and beyond.
Melford Espey, Jr., then a student, was the first to wear an elephant head costume to portray the Crimson Tide's mascot in the early 1960s. Espey later became a university administrator and Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant asked him to take responsibility when student groups asked to resurrect the costumed mascot in the late 1970s.
The costumed "Big Al" mascot officially debuted at the 1979 Sugar Bowl, when the Tide beat Penn State for the national championship. Since then, the mascot has been a fan favorite for the Tide fans. As the Crimson Tide do not have a logo on their helmets or uniforms, Big Al's likeness appears on much team merchandise and such.