Stallings Honored At Game Saturday

In 2005, when Gene Stallings agreed to join with me in producing the book "What It Means To Be Crimson Tide," I could not have been more honored. As he had been when he was head coach at Bama, Coach Stallings was a delight to work with. I felt fortunate to have been covering Alabama football on his watch, and continue to enjoy seeing him a few times a year.



I will particularly enjoy seeing Gene Stallings Saturday when The University of Alabama and The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame jointly honor Stallings with an On-Campus Salute. The salute will take place during halftime of the game between Alabama and Florida in Tuscaloosa with a 7 p.m. CDT kickoff on CBS.

"From his years as a young assistant coach under Coach Bryant through his head coaching days here at Alabama, Coach Stallings produced a career that is richly deserving of this recognition," Alabama Director of Athletics Mal Moore said. "Coach Stallings was more than just a head coach at Alabama - his manner of doing things, his leadership and his passion took our entire program to another level."

In May, the NFF announced that that Stallings, who coached Alabama to the 1992 National Championship and a 28-game winning streak during tenure in Tuscaloosa, will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a member of the 2010 class.

Throughout the season, each Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) College Football Hall of Fame inductee returns to his school for the special on-field event, where a commemorative plaque is presented to the university for permanent display. Beginning with the NFF's inaugural Hall of Fame class in 1951, the NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salute has served as the first of numerous highlights in the hall of fame experience, giving each inductee one more chance to take the field.

Although Stallings' greatest accomplishments as a football coach came at Alabama, he was also an outstanding player for Coach Paul Bryant at Texas A&M and was later head coach and athletics director at his alma mater. He is also being honored with an On Campus Salute at Texas A&M this season.

"The very bottom line is that I hope every player that ever played for me feels like they had a little something to do with me getting in there," Stallings said at the time of the May announcement. "The real joy in coaching was seeing the players graduate. Something that stood above other things for me was the success of the player in whatever it was they did with their lives. Winning games is important, everybody knows that, but seeing the success of the player was the real joy of it all for me."

"We are extremely excited to participate in Saturday's on-campus salute to honor Coach Stallings," said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. "Beyond the 1992 national title and the conference championships stand the countless young players who benefited from Coach Stallings' superior work ethic. He clearly built a record that deserves to be forever preserved in the College Football Hall of Fame."

As a player at Texas A&M, Stallings was a member of the legendary "Junction Boys" in the mid-1950s, returning to his alma mater in 1965 as head coach. In his third season, the Aggies captured the Southwest Conference title and defeated Alabama in the Cotton Bowl.

He left College Station in 1971, and after spending the next 17 seasons as an NFL coach, Stallings took over as the Alabama head coach from 1990 to 1996. He led Alabama to the 1992 National Championship, one Southeastern Conference title (1992), four SEC West Division championships (1992, 1993, 1994 and 1996), five victories in postseason bowl games and four final top 10 national rankings. Under Stallings' direction, the Crimson Tide posted a 28-game winning streak spanning the 1991-93 seasons.

In 1992, Stallings was the National Coach of the Year, the American Football Coaches' Association Coach of the Year, the Paul Bryant Coach of the Year and the Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year, an honor he earned twice at Alabama. Stallings coached 13 First Team All-Americans during his head coaching career and amassed an 89-70-1 record as a collegiate head coach.

Since his retirement from football, Stallings has served on President George W. Bush's Commission on Intellectual Disability and wrote a book about his late son, John Mark, who was born with Downs Syndrome. In 2005, he was appointed to the Texas A&M Board of Regents by Texas Governor Rick Perry. Stallings has been inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, Texas Sports Hall of Fame, Texas A&M Hall of Fame, Gator Bowl Hall of Fame and Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame. He and his wife Ruth Ann reside in Powderly, Texas, and have five children.

Stallings becomes the fourth Hall of Fame coach with a stop in Tuscaloosa, joining Paul "Bear" Bryant (1986), Frank Thomas (1951), and Wallace Wade (1955). Alabama has 17 players who have been inducted, most recently: Woodrow Lowe (2009), Cornelius Bennett (2005), Billy Neighbors (2003), and Johnny Musso (2000). For a complete list of players and coaches in the hall, please visit www.collegefootball.org.

The 2010 Hall of Fame Class will be officially inducted at the NFF's Annual Awards Dinner, held at New York City's historic Waldorf=Astoria Hotel on Tuesday, December 7. For ticket information to the Dec. 7 induction, contact Will Rudd at the National Football Foundation: 972-556-1000 or by email at wrudd@footballfoundation.com.

The National Hall of Fame Salute at the Fiesta Bowl follows on January 1, giving the class recognition on a national stage, and events culminate with the College Football Hall of Fame's Enshrinement Festival in the summer of 2011.

This year's hall of fame class includes Dennis Byrd (North Carolina State); Ronnie Caveness (Arkansas); Ray Childress (Texas A&M); Randy Cross (UCLA); Sam Cunningham (Southern California); Mark Herrmann (Purdue); Clarkston Hines (Duke); Desmond Howard (Michigan); Chet Moeller (Navy); Jerry Stovall (LSU); Pat Tillman (Arizona State); Alfred Williams (Colorado); and coaches Barry Alvarez (Wisconsin) and Gene Stallings (Texas A&M, Alabama).

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