Alabama v. FSU Match-Up Far From Ordinary

You may not realize it, but for whatever reason, Alabama and Florida State have a very interesting history together, and a lot of ties between each other historically speaking, and at the moment as well.

Bobby Bowden grew up listening to Alabama's Rose Bowl triumphs as a boy growing up in Birmingham. He loved the Tide, and as he became of age, he turned into a pretty good quarterback, and went to Alabama. After his first year at the Capstone though, Bowden left Tuscaloosa and returned to Birmingham to be near his girlfriend Ann (now his wife of 58 years). After spending years as a player and coach at Howard College (now Samford), Bowden became a head coach at West Virginia, and then moved on to Florida State. In 1987, after Ray Perkins left Alabama to be the head coach of the Tampa Bay Bucs, Bowden wanted the Alabama job, and he interviewed for it as well. Unfortunately, we dropped the ball by passing on Bowden and hiring Bill Curry. The rest is history.

Nick Saban, too, has some interesting ties to the Bowden family. While at West Virginia, Bowden heard of Saban's father passing, and created a position on his staff so that Saban could be nearer his family -- he was in Ohio at the time -- but Saban respectfully denied the offer. Later on, though, Saban would end up as an assistant at West Virginia, where he coached with two of Bobby's sons, Terry and Tommy Bowden.

The assistants on both staffs have crossed paths numerous times, as well. Nearly every assistant on the Florida State coaching staff has ties to Alabama, and several Tide assistants have ties to FSU as well.

Jimbo Fisher, the current offensive coordinator at Florida State, was hired by Nick Saban at LSU in 2000 to run the Bayou Bengals offense, and there he had a very successful seven year run in Baton Rouge.

Rick Trickett is the current offensive line coach at Florida State, and he too was hired by Nick Saban while at LSU. After moving to West Virginia after Saban left for Miami, Trickett is now in Tallahassee with the 'Noles. Moreover, Trickett's son Travis is now a graduate assistant at Alabama.

Mickey Andrews, the long-time defensive coordinator at Florida State, too has ties to Alabama. He is a graduate of The University of Alabama, and he played both football and baseball while at Alabama in the mid-1960's. He has two national championship rings (1964 and 1965) from his time as a player at Alabama under Bryant.

Jody Allen -- FSU's defensive ends coach and special teams coordinator -- was a graduate assistant at Alabama in 1984 and 1985, and become wide receivers coach for the 1986 season. He went to Ole Miss after Perkins left for Tampa Bay at the end of the 1986 campaign.

Lawrence Dawsey, wide receivers coach at FSU, was a graduate assistant under Saban in 2003 when they won the BCS national championship.

Joe Pendry, the Tide's offensive line coach, was a jack-of-all-trades coach and player under Bowden when the two were at West Virginia from 1970-1974.

Curt Cignetti, the Tide's receivers coach and recruiting coordinator, spent seven years at North Carolina State as an assistant under Chuck Amato from 2000-2006. Amato was the long-time Bowden assistant before taking the NCSU job, and he's now back as assistant coach.

Kevin Steele, the Tide's defensive coordinator, came over this season from Florida State, where he spent years as the 'Noles linebackers coach.

Kirby Smart, Alabama's defensive backs coach, spent two years in Tallahassee as a graduate assistant in 2002 and 2003.

Antonio Carter is a current graduate assistant at Alabama, and he played for the Tide as well, but he grew up a diehard fan of FSU in Tallahassee.

Moreover, Alabama and Florida State recruit a lot of the same athletes out of high school, and several players on the respective rosters have ties to the other school. Andre Smith grew up an FSU fan, for example. D.J. Hall is from Florida and was aggressively recruited by the 'Noles. Roy Upchurch grew up in Tallahassee, and spurned the 'Noles for the Tide. You get the idea.

That tradition continues even with current recruits. Melvin Ray, for example, is from Tallahassee and admittedly grew up a huge 'Nole fan, but the star wide receiver is nonetheless a firm commitment to the Crimson Tide.

On the field though, the Tide and Seminoles haven't played that much (only three times), and haven't squared off in 33 years. Nonetheless, a couple of those games have produced some interesting outcomes.

In the season opener of the 1967 season, Alabama played FSU in Legion Field. After national championships in 1964 and 1965, plus an undefeated and untied season in 1966, Alabama was expected to make a run at another national championship with star quarterback Ken Stabler returning. Florida State shocked everyone in the opener, though, as it racked up 37 points against a Crimson Tide defense that had only allowed 44 points in the entire 1966 season. The game ended in a 37-37 tie, in front of a shocked Legion Field crowd. That game turned out to be a seminal game for the Tide, as it marked the clear and definite end of their unsurpassed domination of the college football world from 1960-1966. After the tie, 'Bama was generally mediocre the next four seasons, and would only return to being a national powerhouse when Bryant went to the wishbone in 1971.

Seven years later in 1974, Alabama and Florida State again squared off in Legion Field. At the time, Alabama and Bryant was at their peak, and the 'Noles had the longest losing streak in the nation (16 straight games, it would reach 20 before a win over Miami). Florida State was led by odd-ball head coach Darrell Mudra, who coached his team from the press box. Nevertheless, all of that aside, Florida State led very late in the game 7-3 with the Tide having the back-up quarterback in (Richard Todd, the starter, was injured), and it seemed that a monumental upset was right around the corner. The 'Noles took a safety deep in their own territory to cut the lead to 7-5, and Alabama's Bucky Berrey hit a field goal with less than a minute to go to squeeze out the 8-7 win over the hapless Noles.

So it's an interesting match-up, to say the very least. Judging by the ties that these two programs have, it has the feel in an in-state rivalry. And if history is any indicator, it's going to be quite an interesting game as well.

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