Everyone instinctively points to Bear Bryant for this success, but this goes beyond the legend of The Bear. Bryant had a National Championship from his playing days at 'Bama.....one of five that they had notched before he even showed back up in 1958 as the head coach.
I've read a couple of books about Bryant, a couple about 'Bama football, and then of course one of my favorites, Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, by Warren St. John. I've always like 'Bama and almost always rooted for them when I watched casually as a non-partisan viewer. I have a framed picture of Bear Bryant hanging on the wall of my study (post-College Station). This is one of the reasons I cried for two years for us to make the move the SEC. Now that we play them regularly, I don't know if I'll be able to hold a level of respectable admiration (like I did for Nebraska) or if I'll grow to despise them like most of the conference already does. This is one of the learning curves I'm going through with realignment.
Coach Wade Wallace won in 1925, 1926, and 1934 and then Coach Frank Thomas won in '34 (with Bryant on the squad) and '41. National Championships, that is.
|Bear in '61|
In his fourth season, the Tide won the '61 NC and then went on to win again in '64 and '65. Bryant's boys then hit a skid. From '61-'66 the Tide were 60-5-1 but from '67-'70 they were a mere 28-15, including a couple of 6 win seasons. Unfathomable, right?
What did Bear do? He secretly consulted longhorn head coach, Darrell Royal, and brought the wishbone to Tuscaloosa in the off-season and turned college football on it's side. From 1971-1979 the Tide went 97-11 with three more National Championships.
The Bear retired following an 8-4 season in 1982 at the age of 69 and four weeks later he suffered a heart attack and died. Thousands upon thousands of college football fans lined the interstate as his hearse drove to Birmingham.
Former All-American, Ray Perkins, takes over the impossible task of filling Bear Bryant's shoes. He was replaced by Bill Curry in '87 who was replaced in '91 by Gene Stallings.
|Me with Bebes|
(Jackie Sherrill also played for 'Bama under Bryant, yet another incredible tie in between the two schools)
Stallings continued a strong run through the mid-90s until Mike Dubose took over in '97. That was kind of the beginning of the end. The Tide went through Dubose, Fran, Mike Price, & Mike Shula over the next decade. Yeah, we stole Fran from them, which at the time was a big deal - but, as we now know, it turned out to be yet another fleecing by the Tide.
Then, and excuse the pun, the tide turned. 'Bama went out and hired Nick Saban. Game over SEC.
Saban took over a squad that went 6-7 in '06 and by '08 was SEC West Champs with a 12-2 season record. One year later he was a National Champion behind Heisman winner, Mark Ingram ('Bama's lone Heisman winner). Two years later Saban hosted the crystal trophy again.....and is sitting in the driver's seat this year.
He has a statue too. That's a pretty powerful recruiting tool.
I cannot imagine what the traffic is like getting to Tuscaloosa and getting to the stadium. The city just doesn't seem like it would be really traffic friendly.
If you are lucky enough to be making the trip this weekend - do yourself a favor and get some ribs at Dreamland. They are incredible. It's a little off the beaten path (keep an eye out for Jug Factory Rd) but whoa nelly they are good.
The other recommendation I'd make would be to skip the Bear Bryant Museum. There is very little Bryant in there, it's mostly the history of Alabama football. It was cool but unless you have a rooting interest there are only so many jerseys you can look at from the early-1900s or trophies from the 19xx Whatever Bowl.
The two coolest things, I thought, was a setup of Coach Bryant's office and John David Crow's Heisman trophy. JDC houses his trophy at the museum as Bryant's only Heisman winner.....BUT it is in the lobby so you don't even need an admission ticket to get to see it.
The school isn't super steep in things to see in terms of unique traditions (if you don't count winning). The one thing that you will hear, hopefully only once, is their Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer chant.
Pre-Game:Alabama is the Yellowhammer state, a nickname that originates with the state bird.
We're gonna beat the hell out of you!
Rammer Jammer, Yellowhammer, give 'em hell, Alabama!
We just beat the hell out of you!
Rammer Jammer, Yellowhammer, give 'em hell, Alabama!
This year's squad currently sits as the undisputed #1 team in the nation and is coming off of the college football regular season equivalent of the Super Bowl. They went into Death Valley and knocked off #6 LSU with a last minute TD drive last weekend. It was one of the best games I've seen in a couple of years.
ALA O v. aTm DTheir offense isn't going to fill the highlight reels but it is perfectly designed to compliment their defense. A.J. McCarron is efficient, experienced, more than capable, and doesn't turn the ball over (as in 0 INTs on the season). He's the starting QB for the best team in college football - and after his game winning drive last weekend finds himself right square in the middle of the Heisman race.
24 Rush 31
80 Pass 70
48 Tot 46
17 Scor 27
Their running game is sick. T.J. Yeldon and Eddie Lacy are one of the best one-two backfields in the country. They are strong, and fast, and quick and powerful. They also run behind one of the best offensive lines ever assembled.
aTm O v. ALA DThey have the best defense in the country, which should come as no surprise - Nick Saban always does. They are led by their three linebackers Nico Johnson, C.J. Mosley, and true freshman Trey Depriest. This is the matchup that everyone will be tuning in to watch. Can our high tempo, spread offense execute against the textbook definition of "SEC defense" that we hear so much about?
10 Rush 2
19 Pass 8
5 Tot 2
4 Scor 1
Here is something interesting to look at. While we have played two teams in the same realm of defensive greatness (LSU & Florida), 'Bama hasn't seen anyone close to our level of offense.
OPPONENT TotO ScoOI'm not at all insinuating that Bama's defense is good because they've played bad offenses - they're good regardless of who steps on the field. What I am saying is that they haven't seen an offense as powerful as ours.
Michigan 82 60
W.Kentucky 66 57
Arkansas 46 77
FAU 105 114
Ole Miss 57 55
Mizzou 109 94
Tennessee 18 24
Miss. St 73 48
LSU 71 57
TEXAS A&M 5 4
That is what makes this game so exciting - there is a reasonable expected result (the #1 team will beat the #15 team) but then there is this huge unknown which is so intriguing and mysterious.
Completely unrelated: Saban is only 2 months younger than Mack Brown!?! I would have put the over/under at 10 years.
Here are the stats between our common opponents this season:
Ark OM MSU LSUAnother interesting trend....Alabama's pass defense over the last four week has given up: 126 yards then 203 yards then 209 yards then 296 yards.
=== === === ===
aTm RushO 218 290 361 134
Ala RushO 225 125 179 166
aTm PassO 498 191 332 276
Ala PassO 213 180 235 165
aTm RushD 142 159 98 219
Ala RushD 58 80 47 139
aTm PassD 373 305 212 97
Ala PassD 79 138 209 296
This is why they play the game. Just another game that the exemplifies the reason we wanted to make the conference move to the SEC. This is fun.
I did that entire preview without any houndstooth. Don't worry you'll get enough by the end of the weekend.
BEAT THE HELL OUTTA ALABAMA! WHOOP!