Early references to the football team tabbed them only as the Blue and Gray Warriors of West Tennessee Normal School.
After the final game of the 1914 season, there was a student parade. During this event, several Normal students shouted, "We fight like Tigers." The nickname was born.
More and more the nickname "Tigers" was used, particularly in campus publications. But it did not catch on with the newspapers downtown. They continued to use "Normals" or the "Blue and Gray" when referring to the University.
Under Coach Lester Barnard in 1922, Normal's football team gave a ring of truth to that old student yell about Tigers. The team adopted a motto - "Every Man a Tiger" - and went on to score 174 points while allowing its opponents just 29 points.
In the late 1920s, student publications and downtown newspapers began referring to the football team as the "Teachers" or "Tutors." The Tiger nickname would return, but not until 1939 was it finally adopted as the official nickname for the University of Memphis.