And Alabama has as many national championships as the other 11 SEC schools combined. Bama's 21 SEC titles and seven (or 12 or 18 or however you want to count them) national championships are part of the tradition. And that past is important to the present and the future.
Alabama is the one true nationally-recognized traditional power in the South. It's a small group of such powers. Notre Dame, USC, Texas, Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Oklahoma, Nebraska. That's about it. There are occasional interlopers, but those are the big boys, and Alabama is in that number.
That national reputation is one of Alabama's great recruiting advantages. When prospects visit The University, they see the national championship trophies, the members of the National Football Hall of Fame, the bowl record, All-Americans, conference championships and the rest. They also see Alabama's NFL connections, and much more.
And that's just part of what Alabama has going for it in recruiting. As the Crimson Tide recruiting staff enters the final week, hoping for a strong finish, it can include the accomplishments of the 2005 Bama football team to enhance this national reputation.
There were four notable bowl games this year. Naturally, the national championship bowl game, Texas beating Southern California. The others were Ohio State vs. Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl, because both are traditional powers with huge fan bases; the Orange Bowl with legendary coaches Joe Paterno of Penn State and Bobby Bowden of FSU; and the Cotton Bowl, Texas Tech's big offense against Alabama's defense.
Throughout the bowl season, Alabama was being mentioned for its records of 53 bowl games and now 30 bowl victories. And the 13-10 win over Texas Tech gave Alabama its 28th ten-win season, also a national record
But it takes more than the past to get the players of the present.
Among the historically significant criteria in football players choosing a college are playing time and facilities. Bama can say yes to both. In a way, it is unfortunate Alabama is able to have playing time available. That's the product of unprecedented scholarship cuts (21) courtesy of the NCAA.
On the other hand, Alabama has made its own fortune in having facilities second to none. Alabama's football building includes magnificent facilities for strength and conditioning and for health care (both facilities for athletes in all sports), as well as an extraordinary football practice lockerroom, a futuristic equipment room, roomy and functional meeting rooms, and a large players lounge with televisions, games, etc. Bryant-Denny Stadium, already one of the nation's most beautiful, is in the final stages of an expansion that will bring capacity to over 92,000 and will also include a new lockerroom for the home team (the visitors will have a lockerroom that will be nicer than the one they have in their own stadium, for the most part).
Top-rated facilities exist in all sports, and all sports use a facility unlike any other. Alabama's renovation of Bryant Hall, the former football dormitory, into a state-of-the art academics center particularly will impress the parents of prospective student-athletes.
Prospects also visit Bryant Museum. Though it is not an athletics department facility, it is another showcase of the fabulous Crimson Tide football tradition.
And athletes, like other students, will select their colleges based on other factors. That's where a cooperative faculty and administration play a big role. When prospects are on campus they are able to meet with members of the faculty in the fields in which they are interested. Alabama's administration is a factor because The University's enrollment is on the rise. The more students attracted, the more likely Alabama is to attract friends (and future) friends of prospects.
Historically, Alabama has attracted students from throughout the United States. One reason is a popular book that lists all colleges and provides an overview of academic areas, recreation, etc. Many students get through Akron and Air Force and then find what they are looking for in Alabama, and so skip the next few hundred pages of that tome. Alabama has everything a student could want unless he or she plans to major in something like swine husbandry.
Another important part of recruiting is how the prospect and his family feel about the coaching staff. Mike Shula and his staff have proved they can recruit, and there is no reason to expect anything but high marks for Bama in this area.
An adage has it that a recruiting class can't be judged for a few years after signing day, but winning programs are usually those that are considered winners each first Wednesday in February–Signing Day.
Alabama appears headed for another good recruiting year, and that should translate into more good Crimson Tide football seasons.