Thursday, July 26, 2007

College Football at its Best Series - Alabama Crimson Tide

Today, Stiles Points features the Alabama Crimson Tide in the series, "College Football at its Best".....Nico from the blog Roll Bama Roll took the time to respond about the Tide....he is a graduate student at the University of Alabama and has been blogging for three years....
  • Roll Bama Roll

  • Q1. How much on a shadow does the legacy of Bear Bryant still cast on Alabama football?
    It is larger than most non-Bama fans could possibly comprehend. A plethora of things around Tuscaloosa are named after him: Bryant-Denny Stadium, The Bryant Museum, The Bryant Conference Center, Bryant Hall, Bryant Drive, Bryant High School, get the point. Let me give you another example. When offensive lineman Andre Smith, the highest ranked offensive line prospect in the country chose Alabama over the likes of USC and LSU, he put a twist on the 'ol "putting on the hat of the team you're going to sign with" schtick. He didn't put on a Bama ball cap, he put on a Houndstooth hat. This from someone that wasn't even born when Coach Bryant died.

    It has its plusses and its minuses though. On the plus side you have young recruits like Andre Smith that have a healthy appreciation for Alabama's rich history and tradition and that certainly helps in recruiting (at least in state.) The downside though is that many fans and influential people in the program have totally unrealistic expectations for modern day coaches. Given the greater parity in today's collegiate game, we're not likely to see another coach win six national championships at one school over the course of their career and that's what some are expecting here. Alabama has obviously been very hard on coaches that have followed in Coach Bryant's wake. Counting Mike Price (who never actually coached a game here), we're on our seventh coach since Coach Bryant.

    Q2. What is the greatest Alabama football game that you have seen - whether it be in-person or on television?
    I'm going to have to go with the obvious answer here: The 1992 National Championship game where Alabama thrashed Miami. It isn't surprising that Alabama won the game seeing as that 1992 team had one of the greatest collegiate defenses ever assembled, but the ease with which they beat the #1 team in the country was a bit shocking. It was great to out hit, out run, out throw, out hustle and out everything a Miami team that felt like the trophy was a birthright and not something to be earned.

    Q3. Why do Crimson Tide fans hate Auburn so much?
    Well, lately because they've beaten us five times in a row. The serious answer though would be that it is an in-state rivalry where these two teams are the highest level of athletics the state has to offer. There are a few minor league baseball teams scattered around the state, but no real pro sports to speak of. With Alabama and Auburn being two of the most successful programs in college football history, the state can focus all of its energy on these two teams and the Iron Bowl in particular. It's a 365 day a year topic around here and that is said without an ounce of hyperbole.

    Alabama fans have historically looked at Auburn as "little brother" and in some ways are more dismissive than hateful of Auburn...though I guess you could call it a dismissive hate. To put it simply though, Alabama fans hate Auburn (and vice versa) because that's how we are raised from birth. I have a friend that could care less about football but was raised by rabid Alabama fans. He says that despite his apathy towards the sport as a whole that to this day he still finds the color combination of orange and blue to be utterly repugnant and attributes it to his upbringing. That's how ingrained it is in us.

    Q4. Since 1970, who are the five greatest players to wear an Alabama uniform and why?
    This will be a tough but fun question to answer. There were some giants of the game I left off, but I feel pretty good about my choices. I chose three players whose careers I am familiar with and chose another two based on historical records and how much I still hear people talking about them. In alpha order:
    1. Shaun Alexander: This one really doesn't really need much explanation. He's had an amazing NFL career and his collegiate career was just as incredible. When he rushed for 291 yards and four touchdowns on 20 carries as freshman at LSU, we all knew we had a special player at Alabama. His name is all over Alabama's record books.

    2. Jay Barker: He may not have the name recognition of Joe Namath or Ken Stabler or Bart Starr, but Jay Barker was a leader that won football games. He was 35-2-1 (.934) as a starter at Alabama. Oh yeah, he won a national championship too. That's an incredible winning percentage and one that trumps the records of a many quarterbacks more famous than Barker.

    3. John Hannah (photo): I never saw Hannah play, but considering just how much praise people are still heaping on him 30+ years later, he must've been one heck of an offensive lineman. Sports Illustrated once featured him on the cover with the headline "The Best Offensive Lineman of All Time."

    4. Ozzie Newsome: Though I never saw him play, from everything I hear he was a sight to behold. He still owns Alabama's all-time receiving yards record and had a 20.3 yard per catch average over the course of his collegiate career.

    5. Derrick Thomas: Thomas had a nose for the ball and a hunger for quarterbacks that was astonishing. He holds the career record at Alabama for sacks (52), tackles for a loss (74) and fumbles caused (10). Thomas was the first player whose skills I wanted for myself. I wasn't big enough to play linebacker (I was a DB), but Derrick Thomas was always my inspiration when I played.

    Q5. Make your case why Alabama football, as a whole, is the best football program in the country?
    There's so much I could say to make a case for Alabama as the best football program in the country I almost don't even know where to start. I could list legendary coaches, national championships, the number of All-Americans produced, conference championships and other accomplishments and all of those things would certainly be true and worthy of inclusion in an argument. Those things are in the past though. What makes Alabama great and special today?

    I always like to think that our site looks at things a little differently so I want to provide a different perspective on why Alabama is so great. It is a magnet for talented players and players full of heart. Even coaches that were in over their heads like Mike DuBose and Mike Shula produced 10-win seasons. DuBose even produced a conference championship (and beat Spurrier twice in one season.) Sure, they had losing seasons too but it is the kind of place where talented people want to play and that the talent level can even overcome bad coaching. It has one of the most rabid and devoted fanbases on the planet and the players return that devotion to the fans. When we went on probation during the Franchione era, the players stuck it out. They could've transferred, but they didn't. Others knowingly came to a program on probation even though they had good offers elsewhere because they wanted to play at Alabama. To me, that level of devotion from both fans and players makes it a unique a great place that few can equal.

    I want to thank Nico for his is much appreciated.....on Monday we stay in the SEC as the LSU Tigers will be featured....

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