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Countdown to kickoff: 99 years ago, Alabama arrived under Xen C. Scott

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A victory over Penn by an underappreciated coach established the Tide as a national power

Paul W. Bryans museum, Wikipedia commons

Guess what?

We are now within 100 days of the season opener on September 4. Don’t expect a countdown post every day as that gets cumbersome and repetitive but we will mark a few along the way, starting with today’s 99.

Alabama has been blessed with several outstanding coaches throughout the program’s storied history, including five who led the Tide to national championships and are thus immortalized in front of Bryant Denny Stadium.

Often overlooked in the discussion of Bama greats is Xen C. Scott, who came to Alabama in 1919 after World War I had canceled the previous season and Tide coach Thomas Kelley had left to serve. Scott had coached previously at his alma mater, now known as Case Western Reserve in Cleveland, but had been working as a sportswriter for five years with a focus on horse racing. He compiled a 29-9-3 record in Tuscaloosa, which had to be considered something of a surprise considering his relative lack of experience.

His crowning achievement came in 1922 when the Tide took down powerhouse Penn in Philadelphia. The Quakers claim six national titles to that point and would go on to a seventh two years later. Alabama, meanwhile, had none.

Christopher Walsh’s recap of the game:

A field goal by Bull Wesley and the recovery of teammate Pooley Hubert’s fumble in the end zone by center Shorty Propst was all Alabama needed to pull off a remarkable 9–7 upset in front of 25,000 fans.

The team celebrated the program’s biggest victory to date by parading through the city, but due to health reasons Scott had already turned in his letter of resignation. Alabama finished 6–3–1 after a 59–0 victory against Mississippi State. Scott died soon after from throat cancer.

Scott passed away having just put Alabama football on the map. His replacement, Wallace Wade from Vanderbilt, would lead the program to an unbeaten season and its first national title three seasons later, with many players who were recruited by Scott. His contribution to Alabama football should never be forgotten.

Oh, and where was Xen C. Scott born? None other than Pasadena, California.

Remember the Rose Bowl, indeed.

Roll Tide.