Time flies when you’re kicking butt.
And for the Alabama Crimson Tide, time is moving at warp speed.
It seems like only yesterday when a much younger looking Nick Saban touched down on the Tuscaloosa tarmac to the delight of well-wishers and fans, clad in crimson and eager for a winner. Great promise arrived that day, but honestly, who would have thought that Saban would have reeled off the kind of red-carpet dynasty that Alabama has experienced over the last 12 seasons? Few.
After getting a mulligan in 2007, the Saban-led Crimson Tide football team has won at least 10 games in a season for the last 11 years.
Now sit back, let that full meal of stats settle, and relax for a minute.
During this time, there have been no real hiccups, no 7-5 seasons smattered amongst them. Just straight up excellence.
The most truly remarkable thing about the Alabama dynasty under Saban is its consistency. It reminds me of just one other program in college football history.
Remember several years ago when folks kept talking about how many years straight Florida State had finished in the Top 5? You know, back when Bobby Bowden was coaching in the ‘90s? Well, it was a ridiculous 14 years in a row. During that seemingly unparalleled span, FSU went 152-19, winning over 88 percent of its games. The Seminoles claimed two national championships, ‘93 and ‘99, and were on the cusp of several more. After joining the ACC in 1992, the ‘Noles won nine conference championships in a row before Maryland finally freed the conference from the garnet-and-gold stranglehold in 2001.
Now remember in the 2000s when Alabama was struggling with—heck, getting beat by the likes of Central Florida and Northern Illinois? Folks wondered if Alabama would ever win another national championship, much less five in nine years and be on the verge of its sixth in 10.
Mediocrity all seems like a distant memory now…
Comparatively, in Alabama’s 11-year, hell-for-leather stretch, the Crimson Tide has posted a 138-14 record (90.7 percent), won five national championships and six SEC championships! On three occasions (2009, 2015, 2016) the Crimson Tide won 14 games and a win over Oklahoma on December 9 in the Orange Bowl will add one more to that total. Low ebb (ha!) was reached in 2010 when the team only went 10-3, but the three losses were by a combined 18 points. (And many folks believe that was Alabama’s most talented team.)
Over its magnificent history, Alabama has won 10 games in a season 39 times. For a moment let’s take a look at how some of the other college football blue bloods stack up against that number:
Oklahoma – 39
Michigan – 29
Nebraska – 28
USC – 27
Ohio State – 27
Penn State – 23
Texas – 23
Miami – 15
What about the other SEC teams? Of course, Alabama takes the top spot in terms of number of 10-win seasons in its history, but who do you suppose is second?
The answer: Georgia.
In 115 seasons of Georgia football, 24 of them have produced 10 wins. The primary reason is that Georgia has had the consistent luxury of having good coaches. Here’s a breakdown of number of 10-win seasons for each coach.
Kirby Smart – 2
Mark Richt – 9
Jim Donnan— 1
Ray Goff – 1
Vince Dooley – 7
Wally Butts— 3
After Georgia, Tennessee comes in third with 19 10-win seasons. Then a cluster of teams tie for fourth in the SEC in 10-win seasons, as Florida, LSU, and Auburn each have 14.
Both Arkansas and Texas A&M, former members of the Southwest Conference, have 12 10-win seasons on their ledger, and Ole Miss is next in line with 7. Missouri has 6, South Carolina has 4, Mississippi State has 3, and Kentucky has 2.
Surprisingly, Vanderbilt has never won 10 games in a season.
From a West-East comparison, the SEC West collectively has 101 10-win seasons to 69 for the SEC East.
What does this all mean in the grand scheme of life? Probably not much, but if you’re a football stats fanatic, it’ll give you something to ponder.
One thing is certain: if Alabama’s 2019 recruiting class is any indication of how this program is trending, the long march of 10-win performances isn’t going to halt anytime soon.
And whether or not this current Alabama dynasty or Bowden’s at FSU has had the better run probably depends on whether you prefer to wear crimson or garnet. H&A
All photos courtesy Alabama Athletics.