Many Connections As Tide Meets Ags

It seems an unlikely place to look for connections, this Alabama vs. Texas A&M match-up. After all, the teams have played against one another in football only five times. Bama leads the series, 3-2, but the biggest wins for the Crimson Tide may have come in coaching tie-ins. And the winner in that arena has clearly been Alabama.

Although there was some outrage in the Alabama camp when Dennis Franchione slipped out of Tuscaloosa at the end of the 2002 season to take the head coaching job at Texas A&M, there was also some solace in that Bama had probably done a little better when the Crimson Tide enticed Paul Bryant to leave the Aggies and come to his alma mater as head coach in 1958.

Most of the connections stem from the Bryant Era, which lasted from 1958 through 1982. Francione lasted at Texas A&M until he was fired following the 2007 season.

Bryant won three national championships at Alabama. One of the men he brought with him from College Station in 1958 was Gene Stallings, who had been a graduate assistant for the Aggies following his playing career under Bryant at A&M. Later Stallings would be head coach at Texas A&M -- and defeat Bryant and Bama in the Cotton Bowl at the end of the 1967 season.

After a long career in pro football, Stallings would return to Alabama in 1990 and deliver a national championship in 1992. He stayed at Alabama seven years and won 70 games and earned his way into the College Football Hall of Fame.

In addition to Stallings, former Bama player under Bryant Jackie Sherrill (1963-65) became head coach at Texas A&M and served 1982-88. Twice Alabama defeated Sherrill's Aggies, in 1985 and in 1988.

One of Bryant's greatest players was John David Crow, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1957 for the Aggies. He became an assistant coach at Alabama, including coaching running backs when the Tide went to the wishbone in 1971. He would go back to A&M as athletics director.

Crow's Heisman Trophy is on display in the Bryant Museum in Tuscaloosa.

Curley Hallman, a native of Northport, didn't get a scholarship offer from Alabama, but Stallings signed him when he returned to A&M and Hallman was instrumental in the Aggies' win over Bama in the Cotton Bowl. Later Hallman would be an assistant at Alabama under both Bryant and Stallings.

Men who played for Bryant at Texas A&M and then coached at Alabama in addition to Crow and Stallings were Dee Powell, Bobby Marks, Bobby Drake Keith, and Elwood Kettler.

The current Bama staff includes Associate Athletics Director for Media Relations Doug Walker, a graduate of Texas A&M; Milton Overton, senior associate AD for technology advancement, who came to Alabama from A&M; and Amy Bragg, director of performance nutrition, who also came to Alabama from Texas A&M.

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