Alabama has 891 official victories[a][b] in NCAA Division I (an additional 21 victories were vacated and 8 victories and 1 tie were forfeited), has won 30 conference championships (4 Southern Conference and 26 SEC championships) and has made an NCAA-record 64 postseason bowl appearances. Other NCAA records include 23 winning streaks of 10 games or more and 19 seasons with a 10–0 start. The program has 34 seasons with 10 wins or more (plus one vacated), and has 40[b] bowl victories, both NCAA records. Alabama has completed 10 undefeated seasons, 9 of which were perfect seasons. The Crimson Tide leads the SEC West Division with 12 division titles and 11 appearances in the SEC Championship Game. Alabama holds a winning record against every current and former SEC school. The Associated Press (AP) ranks Alabama 4th in all-time final AP Poll appearances, with 53 through the 2015 season.
Of the 27 different head coaches who have led the Crimson Tide, Wade, Thomas, Bryant, and Stallings have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. The current head coach is Nick Saban, who was hired in January 2007.
National championships in NCAAFBS college football are debated as the NCAA does not officially award the championship. Despite not naming an official National Champion, the NCAA provides lists of championships awarded by organizations it recognizes. According to the official NCAA 2009 Division I Football Records Book, "During the last 138 years, there have been more than 30 selectors of national champions using polls, historical research and mathematical rating systems. Beginning in 1936, the Associated Press began the best-known and most widely circulated poll of sportswriters and broadcasters. Before 1936, national champions were determined by historical research and retroactive ratings and polls. […] The criteria for being included in this historical list of poll selectors is that the poll be national in scope, either through distribution in newspaper, television, radio and/or computer online."
Since World War II, Alabama only claims national championships awarded by the final AP Poll or the final Coaches' Poll. This policy is consistent with other FBS football programs with numerous national title claims, including Notre Dame, USC, and Oklahoma. All national championships claimed by the University of Alabama were published in nationally syndicated newspapers and magazines, and each of the national championship selectors, and are cited in the Official 2010 NCAA FBS Record Book. In addition to the championships claimed by the university, the NCAA has listed Alabama as receiving a championship for the 1945, 1966, 1975, and 1977 college football seasons.
In Alabama's 1982 media guide, the last for Coach Bryant, 1934 is listed as the only national championship before Coach Bryant in a footnote about the school's SEC history. In the 1980s, Alabama's Sports Information Director Wayne Atcheson started recognizing five pre-Bryant national championship teams (1925, 1926, 1930, 1934, 1941) by adding them to the University's Football Media Guide. According to Atcheson, he made the effort in the context of disputed titles being claimed by other schools, and "to make Alabama football look the best it could look" to compete with the other claimants. Atcheson maintains that the titles are the school's rightful claims.
In January 2013, CNN suggested that Alabama might be college football's new dynasty, and in May 2013, Athlon Sports ranked Alabama's ongoing dynasty as the fourth-best since 1934, behind Oklahoma (1948–58), Miami (1986–92), and Nebraska (1993–97).
1925 – The 1925 Alabama Crimson Tide football team, coached by Wallace Wade, completed the regular season 9–0–0, winning the Southern Conference championship. Alabama was then invited to play Washington in the January 1, 1926 Rose Bowl. Coach Wade's team initially fell behind the undefeated Huskies, but rallied in the second half to defeat Washington 20–19. The outstanding player of the game was Johnny Mack Brown. This game is viewed by many football historians as the single most important event for Southern football, and is hailed "the football game that changed the South." Alabama was the first Southern football team to be invited to play in the Rose Bowl, and proved that the Southern teams could compete with those from the East, the Midwest and the West coast. The victory for Coach Wallace Wade established Alabama as a football powerhouse. The 1925 Alabama football team finished the season with a 10–0–0 record and was selected national champion by the Football Annual, Billingsley, and the Helms Athletic Foundation.
1926 – The 1926 Alabama Crimson Tide football team, coached by Wallace Wade, completed the regular season 9–0–0, winning the Southern Conference championship. Alabama was then invited to play Stanford in the January 1, 1927 Rose Bowl. Coach Wade's team tied the Indians 7–7 to finish the season 9–0–1. The outstanding player of the game was Fred Pickhard. The 1926 Alabama football team was selected national champion by Billingsley and the Helms Athletic Foundation.
1930 – The 1930 Alabama Crimson Tide football team, coached by Wallace Wade, completed the regular season 9–0–0, winning the Southern Conference championship. Alabama was then invited to play Washington State in the January 1, 1931 Rose Bowl. Coach Wade's team defeated the Cougars 24–0 to finish the season 10–0–0. The outstanding player of the game was John Campbell. The 1930 Alabama football team tied with Notre Dame as national champions in the Davis Poll.
1934 – The 1934 Alabama Crimson Tide football team, coached by Frank Thomas, completed the regular season 9–0–0, winning the Southeastern Conference championship. Alabama was then invited to play Stanford in the January 1, 1935 Rose Bowl. Coach Thomas' team defeated the Indians 29–13 to finish the season 10–0–0. The outstanding player of the game was Millard "Dixie" Howell. The 1934 Alabama football team was selected national champion by Dunkel, Williamson, and Football Thesaurus. The University of Alabama honored Ben McLeod, Jr., the 95-year–old former backup End of the 1934 team at the September 6, 2008 Alabama–Tulane game.
1941 – The 1941 Alabama Crimson Tide football team, coached by Frank Thomas, completed the regular season 8–2–0. Alabama's squad finished 3rd in the Southeastern Conference. After losing to Mississippi State 14-0 and Vanderbilt, 7–0, Alabama finished the regular season ranked No. 20 in the AP Poll, which was the finalized with two games left in the regular season. The onset of World War II changed the college football postseason. Alabama was one of 10 teams chosen for post-season competition when they were invited to play Texas A&M in the January 1, 1942 Cotton Bowl Classic. Coach Thomas' team defeated the Aggies 29–21 to finish the season 9–2–0. Minnesota, the AP national champion, finished 8–0 and did not play in a bowl game per Big 10 rules. Alabama's outstanding players of the game were Holt Rast, Don Whitmire, and Jimmy Nelson. The squad was selected national champions by the Houlgate Poll, published in the nationally syndicated Football Thesaurus. The 2009 NCAA Record Book cites the Minnesota Golden Gophers, the Texas Longhorns, and the Alabama Crimson Tide as the three teams selected as national champions in 1941.The Tuscaloosa News described the 1941 Alabama Crimson Tide as the university's best team since the 1934 Rose Bowl Championship Team. The September 11, 1967 issue of Sports Illustrated lists Alabama's 1941 squad as national champion based on Alabama's strength of schedule relative to Minnesota's and because of the early final AP Poll.
1964 – The 1964 Alabama Crimson Tide football team, coached by Bear Bryant, completed the regular season 10–0–0, winning the Southeastern Conference championship. Alabama was led by quarterback Joe Namath. Alabama was then invited to play the Texas Longhorns in the January 1, 1965 Orange Bowl. Coach Bryant's team lost to the Longhorns 21–17 to finish the season 10–1–0. The outstanding player of the game was Joe Namath. The 1964 Alabama football team was selected national champion by the AP Poll and the Coaches' Poll prior to bowl games. The AP Poll waited until after the bowl games to select their champion for the 1965 season.
1965 – The 1965 Alabama Crimson Tide football team, coached by Bear Bryant, completed the regular season 8–1–1, winning the Southeastern Conference championship. The Tide lost to Georgia and tied Tennessee during the regular season. Alabama was then invited to play Nebraska in the January 1, 1966 Orange Bowl. Coach Bryant's team defeated the Cornhuskers 39–28 to finish the season 9–1–1. The outstanding player of the game was Steve Sloan. The 1965 Alabama football team was selected national champion by the AP Poll.
1973 – The 1973 Alabama Crimson Tide football team, coached by Bear Bryant, completed the regular season 11–0–0, winning the Southeastern Conference championship. Alabama was then invited to play Notre Dame in the December 31, 1973 Sugar Bowl. Coach Bryant's team lost to the Fighting Irish 24–23 to finish the season 11–1–0. The 1973 Alabama football team was selected national champion in the final regular season Coaches' Poll, which was finalized prior to the post-season bowl games. The Coaches' Poll began selecting their champion after the bowl games starting in 1974. The post-bowl game AP Poll ranked Alabama 4th, and selected Notre Dame as its national champion.
1978 – The 1978 Alabama Crimson Tide football team, coached by Bear Bryant, completed the regular season 10–1–0, winning the Southeastern Conference championship. The Tide defeated #10–ranked Nebraska 20–3, and defeated #11–ranked Missouri 38–20, and lost to #7-ranked Southern California 24–14, during the regular season. The #2-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide was then invited to play the #1–ranked Penn State in the January 1, 1979 Sugar Bowl. Coach Bryant's team defeated the Nittany Lions 14–7 to finish the season 11–1–0. The outstanding player of the game was linebacker Barry Krauss. Alabama was selected national champion by the AP Poll, and Southern California was selected national champion by the Coaches' Poll.
1979 – The 1979 Alabama Crimson Tide football team, coached by Bear Bryant, completed the regular season 11–0–0, winning the Southeastern Conference championship. The Tide defeated #18–ranked Tennessee 27–17, and defeated #14–ranked Auburn 25–18 during the regular season. Alabama was then invited to play #6–ranked Arkansas in the January 1, 1980 Sugar Bowl. Coach Bryant's team defeated the Razorbacks 24–9 to finish the season 12–0–0. The outstanding player of the game was running back Major Ogilvie. The 1979 Alabama football team was selected national champion by the AP Poll and the Coaches' Poll.
1992 – The 1992 Alabama Crimson Tide football team, coached by Gene Stallings, completed the regular season 11–0–0. They then defeated #12–ranked Florida in the inaugural SEC Championship Game, defeating the Gators 28–21; the win gave Alabama its 20th SEC title and a record of 12–0–0. Alabama was then invited to play #1–ranked Miami, led by Heisman trophy winner Gino Torretta, in the January 1, 1993 Sugar Bowl. Coach Stallings' team defeated the Hurricanes 34–13 to finish the season 13–0–0. The outstanding player of the game was Derrick Lassic. The 1992 Alabama football team was awarded the national championship by the AP Poll and the Coaches' Poll.
The Crimson Tide meeting with President Barack Obama after winning the 2009 national championship
2009 – The 2009 Alabama Crimson Tide football team, coached by Nick Saban, finished with a 12–0 regular season. In the 12 wins, the Crimson Tide defeated four teams that were ranked at the time, including an opening day victory over No. 7 Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. The team headed back to the Georgia Dome in December to face off against #1 Florida in the SEC Championship Game. The Crimson Tide defeated the Gators 32–13 in a rematch of the previous year's championship. Alabama then traveled to Pasadena to face #2-ranked Texas in the 2010 BCS National Championship Game at the Rose Bowl. Alabama's Heisman Trophy-winning running back, Mark Ingram, rushed for 116 yards and two touchdowns in a 37–21 win. This was Alabama's first victory over Texas (1–7–1). Ingram was named the game's offensive MVP in Alabama's first BCS victory. The 2009 Alabama football team was selected national champion by the AP and Coaches' Polls. The 2009 squad became the first FBS division team to defeat six teams ranked in the AP top 25 during one season and received a record six first team AP All-America selections. The 2009 team finished with a perfect 14–0 record, an all-time highest number of wins in a season for Alabama.
2011 – The 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide football team, coached by Nick Saban, completed the regular season 11–1. The only loss of the season was to LSU in overtime 9–6. The team did not play in the SEC Championship Game because of that loss, but won convincingly in its final three regular-season games and earned a No. 2 ranking in the BCS poll. For their final regular season game, Alabama defeated rival Auburn 42-14. Alabama, led by Heisman trophy finalist Trent Richardson, then qualified to play No. 1 ranked LSU in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game. Coach Saban's team defeated the Tigers 21–0 and finished the season 12–1.Jeremy Shelley had a bowl record-tying five field goals in the game, and the game's offensive MVP was AJ McCarron, and the defensive MVP was Courtney Upshaw. With the win, Alabama became the first team to shutout its opponent in a BCS bowl game. In addition to winning the BCS National Championship, the AP also awarded its national title to Alabama for the 8th time.
2012 – The 2012 Alabama Crimson Tide football team, coached by Nick Saban, completed the regular season 11–1. The only loss of the season was against Texas A&M 29–24. Despite the loss, Alabama won the SEC Western division and went to the 2012 SEC Championship Game, where they defeated Georgia 32–28 for the 23rd conference championship in school history. Alabama earned a No. 2 ranking in the final BCS rankings for the second straight year and as a result qualified for the 2013 BCS National Championship Game against No. 1 Notre Dame. Alabama defeated the Fighting Irish 42–14, finished the season 13–1, and the game's offensive MVP was Eddie Lacy, and the defensive MVP was C.J. Mosley. Alabama became the third team in history to win three national championships in a four-year period. This was Alabama's 9th AP national championship and 10th wire-service championship.
2015 – The 2015 Alabama Crimson Tide football team, coached by Nick Saban, finished the regular season 11–1. Their only loss was to Ole Miss 43–37. They won the SEC Western Division title with a record of 7–1, defeating rivals LSU and Tennessee en route, and then defeated Florida 29–15 in the SEC Championship. Alabama returned to the playoffs for the second consecutive season. After falling short in the semifinals against Ohio State in 2014, Alabama defeated the Michigan State Spartans 38–0 in the Cotton Bowl to advance to the Championship Game. Alabama beat the Clemson Tigers 45–40 and won the 2015 FBS national championship. Alabama's Heisman Trophy-winning running back Derrick Henry rushed for 158 yards and 3 touchdowns. This victory gave Coach Nick Saban his fifth national title, including four in the last seven seasons.
2017 - The 2017 Alabama Crimson Tide football team, coached by Nick Saban, finished the regular season 11-1. Their only loss was at Auburn 26-14. They won a share of the SEC Western Division title with a record of 7-1. Alabama returned to the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. Alabama avenged the previous season's only loss in the National Championship game to Clemson with a 24-6 win in the Sugar Bowl. The Tide advanced to the Championship game for the third year in a row. Alabama defeated SEC opponent Georgia 26-23 in overtime. The victory gave Nick Saban his sixth national title, tying him with Paul W. Bryant for most all time. It's also Alabama's fifth title in the last nine seasons.
Alabama has won a total of 30 conference championships; this includes 4 Southern Conference and 26 SEC Championships. Alabama captured its 4 Southern Conference titles in 1924, 1925, 1926, and 1930. Alabama captured the first SEC title in 1933 and has won a total of 26 SEC Championships (1933, 1934, 1937, 1945, 1953, 1961, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1989, 1992, 1999, 2009, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). The school has won more SEC football titles than any other school, including seven since the conference split into separate divisions and added the Championship Game in 1992. Alabama is the only SEC school to win an SEC Championship in every decade since the conference was founded in 1933.
The SEC has been split into two divisions since the 1992 season. Alabama competes in the SEC West. Alabama has won or shared 13 division titles, and has posted a 7–4 record in the SEC Championship Game as of 2016.
Starting in 1994, the Southeastern Conference has annually honored one former football player from each of the SEC member schools as an "SEC Legend". The following former Crimson Tide football players have been honored as SEC Legends.
The main rivalry of the Crimson Tide is against its in-state rival, Auburn University; considered one of the top rivalries in all of sports. The Alabama-Auburn game has come to be known as the Iron Bowl. The outcome of the game generally determines "bragging rights" in the state of Alabama until the following contest. The game may also have implications as to which team will represent the SEC Western Division in the SEC Championship Game.
On February 22, 1893, at Lakeview Park in Birmingham, Auburn was victorious in the first ever Iron Bowl, 32–22. The series was suspended after the 1907 contest, due to violence and financial complications. In 1944, Auburn suggested to reopen the series, though the Board of Trustees at Alabama rejected. The series was resumed in 1948, with Alabama crushing the Tigers 55–0, which is still the largest margin of victory in the series. In the following contest, Auburn shocked Alabama with a 14–13 victory, which is cred with helping revive the series.
For many years, the contest was held at Legion Field in Birmingham, before the teams began alternating between Bryant-Denny Stadium, in Tuscaloosa, and Jordan–Hare Stadium, in Auburn. Auburn won the most recent meeting 26-14 in Auburn, and Alabama currently leads the series at 45-36-1.
Alabama on offense versus Tennessee in Tuscaloosa during the 2009 season
Despite the heated in-state rivalry with Auburn, Bear Bryant was more adamant about defeating his rivals to the north, the Tennessee Volunteers. The series is named the Third Saturday in October, the traditional calendar date on which the game was played. Despite the name, the game has only been played on the third Saturday five times between 1995–2007. The first game between the two sides was played in 1901 in Birmingham, ending in a 6–6 tie. From 1902 to 1913, Alabama dominated the series, only losing once, and never allowing a touchdown by the Volunteers. Beginning in 1928, the rivalry was first played on its traditional date and began to be a challenge for the Crimson Tide as Robert Neyland began challenging Alabama for their perennial spot on top of the conference standings. In the 1950s, Jim Goostree, the head trainer for Alabama, began another tradition as he began handing out cigars following a victory over the Volunteers.
Between 1971–1981, Alabama held an eleven-game winning streak over the Volunteers and, between 1986–1994, a nine-game unbeaten streak. However, following Alabama's streak, Tennessee responded with a seven-game winning streak from 1995–2001. Alabama has won the last 11 meetings from 2007–2017, tying the 1971–1981 record. Alabama won the most recent meeting 45-7 in Tuscaloosa, and leads the series 55-38–7.
A rivalry within the SEC Western Division occurs yearly between Alabama and the LSU Tigers. Starting in 1895, the Tigers were victorious 12–6 in the first meeting. The teams did not regularly meet until the mid-1960s during Alabama's dominance of the SEC. Between 1971–1981, the Crimson Tide won 11 consecutive times. In the 1969 game, LSU defeated Alabama 20–15 in Baton Rouge. Alabama did not lose again in Baton Rouge until 2000.
In 2007, the meeting was more heated following Alabama's hiring of head coach Nick Saban, who previously coached at LSU. With the hiring, many media outlets dubbed the 2007 meeting as the "Saban Bowl". The Crimson Tide lost the first "Saban Bowl" in 2007, won the 2008 and 2009 meetings only to lose in Baton Rouge in 2010.
In 2011, the teams played as the consensus No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams in the polls with LSU winning 9–6 in overtime. They played each other again for the BCS National Championship with Alabama winning 21–0 to secure its 14th National Championship. Alabama won the most recent meeting 24-10 in Tuscaloosa and leads the head-to-head series 52-25–5.
Alabama's most played opponent is Mississippi State. The rivalry has been called the "Battle for Highway 82" with the schools separated by only about 90 miles. Alabama has dominated the series with wins in 82 of the 102 meetings.
Alabama also maintains a rivalry with the Ole Miss Rebels. It is one of the most lopsided rivalries in college football, with Alabama having won 53 of the 65 meetings.
In recent years, Alabama has developed what some consider to be a rivalry with the Clemson Tigers. In the build-up to the 2018 Sugar Bowl, players and coaches from both teams referred to the series as a "respectful" rivalry. There are numerous connections between the two programs. Clemson's top three winningest head coaches, Frank Howard, Dabo Swinney, and Danny Ford, all played at Alabama, as did Clemson coaches Hootie Ingram and Charley Pell. Alabama and Clemson have played first in 1900 and most recently in 2018, with Alabama winning 14 of the 18 games. The series escalated into a rivalry when the teams met in the College Football Playoff in the 2015, 2016, and 2017 seasons.
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets were at one time considered Alabama's arch rival. During the suspension of the Iron Bowl between 1907 and 1948, Georgia Tech (then a member of the SEC) emerged as the most intense game on Alabama's schedule. The teams played many significant games, especially in the late 1950s and early 1960s. A heated feud developed between Bear Bryant and Georgia Tech head coach Bobby Dodd following a controversial hit in the 1961 game, a 10–0 Alabama victory. Dodd cited this feud as the primary impetus for Georgia Tech leaving the SEC three years later. The two teams have met 52 times, making Georgia Tech Alabama's most played among current non-conference opponents. Alabama leads the series 28–21–3; Georgia Tech won the last meeting in 1984. Alabama's fight song, "Yea Alabama", mentions Georgia Tech with the line "Send the Yellow Jackets to a watery grave."
There have been many historic games between Alabama and Penn State. The two teams met five times during the tenure of Bear Bryant, including in the 1979 Sugar Bowl, which determined the national championship for the 1978 season. The games usually have national implications – seven of the fifteen meetings between the two schools have featured both teams ranked in the Top 10 – and eight of the meetings have been decided by a touchdown or less. The most recent game was in 2011, with Alabama winning 27–11. It was the final loss for long-time Penn State head coach Joe Paterno. Alabama leads the series 10–5.
All-time record vs. current SEC teams
Official record (including any NCAA imposed vacates and forfeits) against all current SEC opponents as of the completion of the 2016 season:
During the football season, the Crimson Tide Sports Network (CTSN) broadcasts multiple shows on gameday for most sports. The network includes more than sixty radio stations across the country. Radio stations WFFN-FM, WTSK-AM as a backup, broadcast all home games in the Tuscaloosa area.
Football radio broadcasts begin three hours prior to the game's designated kickoff time with Chris Stewart and Tyler Watts in Around the SEC. The radio broadcast then moves to the Crimson Tide Tailgate Party hosted by Tom Roberts. Immediately following the end of the game, the Fifth Quarter Show begins as host Eli Gold talks to coaches and players and gives game statistics. For the 2008 season, former Alabama players and personalities were brought on to provide guest commentary for each broadcast.
Eli Gold has done play-by-play work for Alabama football since 1988.