With New England’s comeback win over Atlanta in overtime in the Super Bowl Sunday, there has been much discussion of “greatest games” in history and, particularly, in the last year of college and professional sports.
The pros had LaBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers with its championship over Golden State in the NBA Championship series and the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series.
In college it was Villanova’s miracle win in the NCAA Basketball Tournament and Clemson’s win over Alabama in the last second College Football Playoff Championship Game.
It is a measure of Alabama’s football greatness that the followers of so many teams list their “greatest win” some upset of the Crimson Tide. That Crimson Tide greatness extends to the difficulty of choosing the greatest win in Bama football history.
We’ll assume that not many are around who can attest to the importance of Alabama’s 1922 win over Penn in Philadelphia or the Crimson Tide’s 20-19 win over Washington in the Jan. 1, 1926 Rose Bowl, but we know historically how important those wins were to Bama and to Southern football.
But what do YOU believe to be the greatest win in Alabama football history?
The first thing I think about was a summer 1970 comment from Alabama Coach Paul Bryant regarding Alabama’s 33-32 win over Archie Manning-led Ole Miss the previous season. The game was considered a classic by fans and media.
What did Bryant think about it?
“Worst game I ever saw,” said the man who believed you win with defense.
Alabama ranks among the most successful college football programs. By any number of formulas the case could be made that Bama is the most successful. Alabama has 16 national championships, 26 Southeastern Conference championships, more bowl victories than any team in history, so there is plenty to choose from.
Just go back a year and you might go for Alabama’s 45-40 win over Clemson for the 2015 national championship. Some might opt for the BCS game for the 2012 title, a 42-14 win over Notre Dame that was certainly satisfying, but hardly a classic; still, understandable and acceptable.
There could not be more people who have seen Alabama win more national championships than have I. I was there as a fan at the Orange Bowl following the 1965 season when Alabama defeated Nebraska when the Associated Press decided bowl games would count for the title, and I have seen all of Bama’s wins in bowl games, BCS championships, and the CFP championship as a reporter.
In the Bryant Era, I would rank the 14-7 win over Penn State – the Goal Line Stand game – in the Sugar Bowl at the end of the 1978 season as the greatest.
I can’t remember being more ecstatic than following Coach Gene Stallings’s Tide defeating Miami, 34-13, in the Sugar Bowl following the 1992 season to complete a perfect season.
My favorite involves an entire season, Coach Nick Saban’s first national championship team in 2009. That team had the fabulous game-winning drive led by Greg McElroy against Auburn in Auburn to complete an undefeated regular season, a victory over Tim Tebow and No. 1 ranked Florida to win the SEC title, Mark Ingram winning the first Heisman Trophy by a Tide player, and then the greatest – beating old nemisis Texas in a game in the Rose Bowl.
Certainly a win in a national championship game doesn’t have to be the greatest (but it helps, as they say).
What in your opinion is the greatest win in Alabama football history? You have almost 900 to choose from, and there are no wrong answers.