Despite there being a plethora of great coaches in Alabama's long history, one clearly stands above the rest in the hearts and minds of the Crimson Tide faithful: Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. In 25 years at The Capstone he won six national titles and thirteen conference titles. Not too shabby coach...not too shabby. Bryant's importance in Alabama history is underscored by the fact that almost 30 years after his last season people are still referring to "the post-Bryant era."
There have been quite a few ups and downs in the post Bryant era and if one were to single out a coach as the best coach in that time period, I'd venture a guess that 100% of Alabama fans would either go with Nick Saban or Gene Stallings. Let's remove the two post-Bryant national championship winners from the equation though and then see who people cast their lot with.
Do you go with Ray Perkins (32-15)? He had the unenviable task of following the most beloved coach in college football history and arguably the most beloved coach in all of American sports history. How do you follow Coach Bryant? You don't. Perkins rode that storm out while ruffling a few feathers along the way. You've got to appreciate his moxie though in regards to being his own man and the guy got the Notre Dame monkey off of our back in 1986 when Alabama defeated the Irish at Legion Field. On the downside, Perkins registered Alabama's first losing season since J.B. Whitworth.
How about Bill Curry (26-10)? He picked up an SEC championship, never had a losing season, has the best winning percentage of this group of coaches and beat Tennessee and Penn State three years in row. However, he couldn't beat Auburn and that's obviously a big problem. And let's not even get started on those dreadful game day sweaters.
Then there's Mike Dubose (24-23). Dubose beat Florida twice in one year on the way to an SEC championship...the last one we won until Saban came along. He did lose to Louisiana Tech that year though and that took the shine off of it a little bit (not to mention that he actually lost to them another time in his four years.) He also presided over the first loss to Kentucky in about a thousand years and lost to Central Florida at homecoming in his final year. Dubose also eventually got us into some major hot water with the NCAA.
Dubose's departure led to the hiring of Dennis Franchione (17-8). Franchione won 10 games in his second season and taught us all about how to weather a storm and how to hold the rope together as a team and a family.
Mike Price (0-0). Well, at least he never lost to Auburn. "It's rollin' baby!"
Finally, we have Mike Shula (26-23), who probably walked into as bad of a situation as anyone could ever imagine in his first year at Alabama. He was the third coach the team had in less than a year, he didn't get to take the team through spring training and was basically destined to fail his first year due to lack of time to prepare for anything. Shula only coached one winning season despite having an overall winning record at Alabama. His biggest accomplishment is that he helped the program ride out a particularly difficult time in its history quietly and with dignity. His biggest problems were that he was too loyal to his assistants and ran too lax of a program ("Club Shula.")
Now it's time for that asterisk*. So, factoring in both on the field performance and what they did for the program as a whole, which of these six non-national-championship-winning men was the best coach while at Alabama? Please vote and discuss in the comments.