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Countdown to kickoff: 23 years ago, Alabama football left the Old Gray Lady

Alabama football returned full time to Tuscaloosa.

The 1998 season wasn’t a particulary memorable one in Alabama football history. Led by second year head coach Mike Dubose, the Tide managed a 7-5 record including 4-4 in SEC play. Junior RB Shaun Alexander was the star, piling up over 1500 scrimmage yards and 17 touchdowns on the season.

Most notably, 1998 would mark the beginning of the end for Alabama football at Legion Field, known affectionately as “The Old Gray Lady.”

Alabama athletic director Bob Bockrath hammered out a deal with the City of Birmingham that year, dissolving a longstanding contract that would allow the school to start playing all of its conference games on campus beginning in 1999, and all games starting in 2004. Bockrath’s reasoning was sound:

“This represents a significant event in Alabama football history,” Bockrath said at the time. “… Birmingham’s a great place to play, but you can only get that type environment on campus. I thought it was important to get those games and those teams in that type environment.”

The Tide won the Iron Bowl 31-17 that season, over a poor Auburn squad led by interim coach and former Tide assistant Bill Oliver, the architect of the legendary 1992 national championship defense. It was the last time the two rivals would meet at Legion Field. All of Alabama’s games are now played on campus, as college football should be.

Our own CB969 penned a fine Legion Field historical just a couple of years ago, complete with video highlights, which is well worth your time.

We are now 23 days from kickoff.

Roll Tide.