Considering that Alabama and Texas A&M have met only eight times on the football field, the Crimson Tide and Aggies have a deep history insofar as people.
Four head coaches of the two schools are among them sharing Bama and A&M backgrounds, most notably Paul Bryant.
In 1954, Bryant left Kentucky, where he was the most successful football coach in Wildcats history, to become head coach and director of athletics at Texas A&M. He had his only losing season in a 38-year head coaching career in his first season in College Station, a 1-9 record. But the survivors of that first season, who had undergone the grueling preseason camp at Junction, would go on to win the Southwest Conference championship with a 34-21 win over Texas in Austin.
The Aggies were 25-14-2 under Bryant when “Mama called.”
Bryant, who had played at Alabama in the 1930s, was enticed to Tuscaloosa to begin the 1958 season. In 25 years at Bama he became the nation’s best known and most successful college football coach. His Crimson Tide teams would have a record of 232-46-9 and win six national championships. His overall record as a head coach was 323-85-17.
Among the Junction Boys under Bryant at Texas A&M was Gene Stallings. Following his playing career at Texas A&M, Stallings followed Bryant to Alabama as an assistant coach. In 1965, at the age of 29, Stallings returned to College Station as head coach and athletics director and remained for seven years. His record with the Aggies was only 27-45-1, but it included a 20-16 win over Bryant and Bama in the Cotton Bowl at the end of the 1967 season.
Stallings then went on to a long career as an assistant coach with the Dallas Cowboys, became head coach of the St. Louis/Arizona Cardinals, and then returned to Alabama in 1990 for his final football job as head coach of the Crimson Tide. At Alabama he compiled a record of 70-16-1, including winning the 1992 national championship.
An assistant coach (1969-71) under Bryant was John David Crow, who had won the Heisman Trophy while playing for Bryant at A&M in 1957. Crow would return to Texas A&M in 1983 as assistant athletics director for the Aggies and was director of athletics from 1988 to 1993.
A player under Bryant 1962-64 at Alabama was Jackie Sherrill, and Sherrill became a successful head coach at Pittsburgh. In 1982 he was hired at Texas A&M and in a seven-year career had a record of 52-28-1 and won three SWC championships. The Aggies had Cotton Bowl wins over Auburn and Notre Dame and a loss to Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl.
The most intriguing aspect of the Sherrill years at Texas A&M was elevating the school’s 12th Man tradition by having tryouts among students to win a job on special teams – and wear the No. 12.
Perhaps the strangest coaching connection involves Dennis Franchione. Franchione had been hired as head football coach from TCU by Bama Athletics Director Mal Moore in 2001. Franchione coached the Crimson Tide only two years and had a 17-8 record in what was a difficult time – rebuilding while under NCAA probation that included scholarship cuts.
Still, it was a surprise when Franchione more or less skipped town under cover of darkness to go to Texas A&M at the head coach. His five-year record with the Aggies was 32-28.
The Aggies first-year defensive tackles coach is David Turner, who was defensive ends coach at Bama in 2006 under Mike Shula.
Alabama’s associate athletics director for media relations, Doug Walker, is a graduate of Texas A&M who served in the Aggies’ sports information office as a student assistant.
And, finally, we have all heard Alabama Coach Nick Saban speak of “Miss Amy” when discussing player nutrition. She has been Director of Perfomance Nutrition at Alabama since 2011, coming to Bama from Texas A&M, where she had served in the same capacity 2005-10.
Alabama, ranked number one in the nation with a 7-0 record (4-0 in SEC play), will host sixth-ranked Texas A&M (6-0, 4-0) at 2:30 p.m. CDT Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium. CBS will televise the game.
Alabama has a 6-2 record against the Aggies in the all-time series, including one of the strangest games in Crimson Tide history. Alabama's 1941 team met A&M in the Cotton Bowl and Bama won the game, 29-21, despite the fact the Tide made only one first down (to A&M's 13), had only 75 yards of total offense to the Aggies' 309. Alabama completed only one pass and had only 33 plays (to 81) on offense. Bama intercepted 7 passes and recovered 5 fumbles.