Stallings Influence

From Ray Perkins, who was head football coach at Alabama from 1983 through 1986, to Mike Shula, Bama's coach the past four years, there were a half dozen former Crimson Tide head football coaches Nick Saban could have contacted before taking the offer of Alabama Athletics Director Mal Moore to become Bama's 27th head coach.

Nick Saban selected one. And it may say something about Saban's obsession with the national championship that he picked the one coach since the Paul Bryant era who has won a national championship at Alabama.

"I talked to Gene Stallings," Saban said Thursday at a media opportunity where he was introduced.

Saban said, "After I talked to Mal on Monday or Tuesday, I did talk to Coach Stallings and just asked his opinion of what he thought about this coaching opportunity. He was very candid. We had a great discussion. He obviously had a tremendous amount of success here–won the national championship. And it was tremendously helpful to myself and (wife) Terry in making this decision."

Stallings coached Alabama to the Crimson Tide's last national championship, a 13-0 record in 1992. In 2003, at LSU, Saban won the national title.

Both Stallings and Saban were honored following their national championship seasons as national coach of the year, winning the Bear Bryant Award. Saban said, "When I got the Bear Bryant Award as Coach of the Year, Coach Stallings was there and we sat together with Kenny Stabler. You know there was some story-telling going on in that bunch."

Stabler, a former Alabama quarterback, is now the color commentator on Crimson Tide football radio broadcasts. Stallings is retired from football, though still active on his ranch in Texas.

Saban said, "I have a tremendous amount of respect for Coach Stallings. I know I've had a few stops along the way. When I was the head coach at Michigan State he spoke at our clinic. I knew him when he was in the professional ranks when he was the secondary coach at Dallas as well as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. Then when I was at LSU I had him speak at our clinic at LSU. So we had a history of talking ball, being around each other."

Stallings coached at Alabama from 1990 through 1996 and had a record of 70 wins against only 17 losses and one tie.

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