ed.- bumped from the fanposts. good list.
Memories of this past season still keep me warm at night: Roy Upchurch's annhilation of a Virginia Tech DB on his way across the goal line in the season opener, Trent Richardson's unbelievable TD run versus the Hogs, Rolando McClain's all-everything performance against Kentucky, Mark Ingram's Heisman-winning night against the Gamecocks, Julio's fastest-man-alive TD versus LSU, Greg McElroy's MVP performance vs. the Gators, Marcel Dareus's ownership of the Longhorns, Cody 5, Blocky Stop, the chest bump. 14-0. BCS champs. Perfection.
I own a book some of you may have called Greatest Moments in Alabama Crimson Tide Football History (released in 2002 by The Tuscaloosa News). Obviously, there's nothing in there about this past year's awesomeness. And, although I love the book, it strikes me as odd that it starts with the 1926 Rose Bowl (omitting everything before it) and ends with our 2000 triple-overtime loss to Michigan (followed by Zow's big win over Auburn in 2001). I just don't understand how a loss can be considered one of the greatest moments in Tide history...or how everything before 1925 could be overlooked (especially Xen Scott's historic win over Penn in 1922).
Anyway, since the University chooses to recognize 13 national titles for the University, I decided I would list what I consider to be our 13 greatest moments on the field. I did not attempt to rank them, so they are presented in chronological order. Knowing our fanbase (especially those here at RBR), I'm guessing there will be a few nominations for games I left off this list, so please feel free to comment and let me know what they are. My top 13 appear after the jump. Enjoy.
(1) 1922, Nov. 4: Alabama 9, Pennsylvania 7 (Philadelphia). As many of you know, Alabama football, and Southern football in general, was considered inferior to the brand played in other parts of the country, particularly the Northeast. Although our first national championship team changed that for good, the landscape had already been altered dramatically by Coach Xen Scott's 1922 squad when they traveled to Philadelphia and beat Penn on their home turf. If you own a copy of Talk of Tide (John Forney and Steve Townsend), you may remember reading an interesting and amusing article with Al Clemens, who played for the Tide that season. Below is my favorite excerpt from that interview:
They (Penn) had an All-American lineman named Thurman. We were going to pretend Thurman didn't exist.
Our game plan was to run right at him. During the game, between the plays, we'd say, "Where's Thurman? We thought he was supposed to be some All-American. When's he going to show up?"
We got him so upset, he slugged our fullback W.C. Baty.
The referee put him out of the game. He was a great player, and we dominated the game after that point.
Clemens also notes that that evening after the game, the team hit the town together with Coach Scott cradling the game ball. People would ask him what he was carrying, and Scott would say, "It's gold, just as good as gold."
Coach Wallace Wade came to Alabama the following year, as Xen Scott was dying of cancer, and Wade would lead the Tide to unprecedented heights soon enough. However, the win over Penn in 1922 was the first signature win for a Southern team against a Northern opponent, and at their place. In Forney's book, he notes that this game was played 'less than 60 years after Appomattox,' which further highlights the importance of this particular game. Like the great Rose Bowl win in 1926, this game meant something, not only to Alabama, but to people all across the South.
(2) 1926, January 1: Alabama 20, Washington 19 (Rose Bowl). This game still exists for many as the biggest in Alabama's history, if not the history of the entire region. It was the first of three for legendary coach Wallace Wade (Alabama's first national title-winning coach and the first nicknamed "Bear"). The 1925 team featured a smart and tough All-American QB in Pooley Hubert and an amazingly fast runner in future screen legend Johnny Mack Brown. Their team had allowed only one score prior to their Rose Bowl matchup with Washington, in a 50-7 victory over Birmingham-Southern College. Nevertheless, Alabama found themselves behind 12-0 at the half. Coach Wade's halftime speech consisted of one statement: "And they told me Southern boys would fight." That 'speech', combined with an injury to Washington's own All-American George Wilson and two missed PAT's by the Huskies, gave Alabama what it needed to mount the comeback and garner the Tide's first ever Rose Bowl victory and Alabama's first ever national championship.
(3) 1930, October 18: Alabama 18, Tennessee 6 (Tuscaloosa). Despite the fondness many of us have for Phillip Doyle's FG to beat the Vols in 1990, this game from Wallace Wade's final season in Tuscaloosa still stands as the Tide's greatest over one of our most hated rivals. Alabama featured All-Americans John Suther and 'Football Freddie' Sington...plus a sometime FG kicker named J.B. 'Ears' Whitworth. This team would emerge as national champions after trouncing Washington State 24-0 in Wade's final game for Alabama, but the win over UT was the biggest of the season. The Volunteers entered the game with an astounding 34-game winning streak, and this would be General Neyland's only loss of the season.
(4) 1935, January 1: Alabama 29, Stanford 13 (Rose Bowl). Frank Thomas's first national championship squad featured the greatest receiver in the history of the game and the greatest coach in the history of the game, the starting end and the 'other end', Don Hutson and Paul 'Bear' Bryant, as well as Riley Smith, Tarzan White, and Dixie Howell, whom famed sportswriter Grantland Rice dubbed 'the human howitzer from Hartford, Alabama' after his breathtaking play in this drubbing of Stanford. A Rose Bowl record 85,000 attended the game and were privileged to witness the greatest passing game yet seen in Pasadena. Hutson caught TD passes from Riley and Howell, who finished the day with 160 yards passing plus 111 on the ground.
(5) 1946, January 1: Alabama 34, USC 14 (Rose Bowl). 93,000 watched Alabama destroy the perception that USC could not lose in the Rose Bowl. The Tide outgained the Trojans 351 to 41 yards in the contest, and both of Southern Cal's scores came in the fourth quarter after Alabama had already sealed the deal. Perhaps the greatest player in Alabama history, Harry Gilmer passed for a mere 59 yards, but added 117 on the ground, in addition to his usual duties at DB and as a return man. Although no Alabama team outshines this one statistically, and they finished the season without a loss, this is not one of the ones that the University numbers among its national title teams. Still, USC was 8-0 in Rose Bowl games before this matchup, and the defeat would be so painful that the Rose Bowl committee decided that their future games would only pit Pacific 10 teams against teams from the Big 10.
(6) 1962, January 1: Alabama 10, Arkansas 3 (Sugar Bowl). Led by its stellar defense (the Tide outscored its opponents 297-25), Alabama finished the regular season with five straight shutouts before heading down to New Orleans to play the Hogs for all the marbles. During the regular season, Bama literally added insult to injury as Darwin Holt leveled Chick Graning with a near-lethal, and possibly illegal, blow to the face. The game would serve as a primary motivator for Bobby Dodd and Bama rival Georgia Tech to leave the SEC. The Tide was led by the late great QB Pat Trammell, as well as Lee Roy Jordan, Billy Neighbors, Bill Oliver, and Mal Moore, to name a few. A Sugar Bowl record 82,910 witnessed the game, and it was Bama's first Sugar Bowl win in three tries. This game gave Coach Bryant his first of six national titles as head coach. Afterward,he claimed that this was "the best team I've been around."
(7) 1966, January 1: Alabama 39, Nebraska 28 (Orange Bowl). Sloan to Perkins was the theme of the first half, and a few completions to Jerry Duncan from his position at tackle led the rules committee to take note of a change it needed to make before the following year. Alabama started the season with a one-point loss to Georgia and ended up with a 7-7 tie with Tennessee after Kenny 'Snake' Stabler spiked the ball on fourth down with the team in field goal range. Still, the third-ranked Tide found itself in national title contention after the first- and second-ranked teams went down earlier that day. Bama rushed for 222 yards, and -- although it led the nation with 290 rushing yards per game -- Nebraska was held to only 145 on the ground...even though it outweighed Alabama's line by 35 pounds per man. After Alabama won a national title the previous year even though it lost its bowl game, the rules committe made sure the voting would happen after the bowls, allowing the Tide to emerge victorious a second straight year.
(8) 1971, November 27: Alabama 31, Auburn 7 (Legion Field). Delbert Reed of The Tuscaloosa News dubbed it 'the most gigantic football game ever played in the South'. Johnny Musso was on crutches for almost three weeks prior to the contest -- he only ended up with 167 yards on 32 carries and two TDs. He also threw a 17-yard pass to Wayne Wheeler. Auburn's Heisman winner, Pat Sullivan, went 14-27 for 121 yards...and two interceptions. Meanwhile, Bama QB Terry Davis went 9-11 for 105 yards and added 43 yards on the ground. All three were outshined by Bama's stiff defense, which held Auburn well below its season averages and handed the Tigers its first loss of the year, giving undefeated Alabama the SEC title.
(9) 1979, January 1: Alabama 14, Penn State 7 (Sugar Bowl). After Alabama fumbled the ball in its own territory in the fourth quarter, Don McNeal made an incredible tackle at the one to set up the greatest play in Alabama history, the Goal Line Stand. Before the play, Bama's Marty Lyons famously told PSU QB Mike Guman, "You better pass." When the Nittany Lions opted to run instead, LB Barry Krauss knocked himself out stopping the play...and earned himself lifelong adoration from Crimson Tide fans.
(10) 1985, November 30: Alabama 25, Auburn 23 (Legion Field). After a beautiful 74-yard scamper by Gene Jelks gave Alabama a fourth-quarter lead, Auburn scored with about a minute to play to go up 23 to 22. The Tide found itself at its own 20 with one timeout and 57 seconds to play. It was just enough, as heroics by Mike Shula and company left Alabama's Van Tiffin 52 yards away from glory. The Kick stands forever as the greatest moment in Iron Bowl history.
(11) 1993, January 1: Alabama 34, Miami 13 (Sugar Bowl). Miami entered the game with a 29-game win streak and dissed our players in the French Quarter and at the coin toss. However, after coaches Stallings and Oliver made Heisman-winning QB Gino Toretta look like a scared child with bookends Copeland and Curry, a fierce linebacking crew, and the greatest defensive backfield Alabama's ever had, the Hurricanes died down quickly. They wouldn't score a single offensvie TD, Alabama would outrush them 267-48, and George Teague would make the greatest non-play in college football history. It was 13 years after Bama's last national title, and it would be 17 years until we would win another, which brings us to...
(12) 2009, December 5: Alabama 32, Florida 13 (SECCG). The second-best team in the country (ranked first) gets crushed by the best team in college football history (ranked second). Greg McElroy goes insane with passes, runs, blocks, and bunny-hops to win the MVP over the so-called 'greatest player in college football history'. Mark Ingram seals the deal on Bama's first Heisman, Marquis Maze runs wild, P.J. Fitzgerald tackles one of the fastest men in America, and the defense shuts down Urban Tebow to capture our first SEC title since 1999 and maintains Alabama as the only team to win at least one conference title each decade since league inception. Oh, yeah...and it sets up...
(13) 2010, January 7: Alabama 37, Texas 21 (BCSNCG). Bama's 13th title against a team it had never beaten. The only team to ever beat 10 bowl teams in a season. The first 14-0 national title winner from the SEC. The only coach to win two BCS titles at different schools. Thank you, Marcel Dareus, Eryk Anders, Javier Arenas, Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Butkus winner Rolando McClain, Mount Cody, Leigh Tiffin, Mike Johnson, Julio, CNS, and every member of the greatest team ever. Roll Tide.