The University of Alabama, also known as UA or “Bama”, is proud to field the famous Alabama Crimson Tide football program. The team represents the university in the Football Bowl Subdivision of the NCAA and the Western Division of the Southeastern Conference. The team is currently led by head coach Nick Saban who has led the Tide to six national championships over his tenure. And his achievements only add to the storied history of what has to be one of the most decorated football programs in the NCAA.
Since the team’s origins in the late 19th century, the program has earned a blistering 18 national championships. These titles include 13 wire-service national titles in the poll-era and five other titles before the poll-era. The team was also led by Hall of Fame coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, who won six national titles with the program. And the team has also fielded several award and trophy winning players over it’s long and rich history.
Since beginning play in 1892, the program claims 18 national championships, including 13 wire-service (AP or Coaches’) national titles in the poll-era, and five other titles before the poll-era. From 1958 to 1982, the team was led by Hall of Fame coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, who won six national titles with the program. Despite numerous national and conference championships, it was not until 2009 that an Alabama player received a Heisman Trophy, when running back Mark Ingram became the university’s first winner. In 2015, Derrick Henry became the university’s second Heisman winner. The Crimson Tide won back to back Heisman trophies in 2020 and 2021, with DeVonta Smith and Bryce Young.
About Bryant-Denny Stadium
The Alabama Crimson Tide plays its home games from Bryant-Denny Stadium, which is located on the campus in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. And it’s a huge outdoor stadium with all the extras and amenities that fans can expect or desire. Currently, it has a max capacity for 100,077 of the world’s best football fans. Because of this, it’s the 8th largest non-racing stadium in the world and the seventh largest stadium in the United States.
The stadium first opened nearly 100 years ago in 1929. Originally it was named Denny Stadium in honor of George H. Denny, the university’s president from 1912 to 1932. But in 1975, the state legislature added longtime head coach and alumnus, Paul “Bear” Bryant to the stadium’s name. This honor was granted after Bryant was followed by Bryant leading the Tide for an additional seven years through 1982. And, as a fun fact, makes him one of the few head coaches in Division I play to have coached in a venue bearing his name.
History and Interesting Facts
Since the stadium opened in 1929, the Crimson Tide has had a very strong .823 (238-50-3) record at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Currently Nick Saban is the leader in wins at the stadium with an all-time record of 86-5-0 (.915) since 2008.
Oddly, despite its success at Bryant-Denny Stadium, Alabama has had most of their “historical” games from the 1-20s through the 1980s played out nearby Birmingham’s Legion Field. This field had capacity for about 20,000 more people than the Crimson Tide’s home stadium, so their most important games were played there. This includes the Iron Bowl game with rival Auburn.
Later, in 1998, Bryant-Denny was expanded to a capacity that exceeded Legion Field, which caused the most important games to be played at the home stadium rather than Legion Field, which was considered “neutral ground” by fans. In fact, Alabama’s final game at Legion Field was against the South Florida Bulls. So now, Bryant-Denny is the sole home of Alabama football.
Bryant-Denny has become known as a feared place to play. The team’s strong home game record has made it one of the most challenging venues for other Division I NCAA teams. In fact, NCAA Football 11 ranked the stadium as the fourth toughest place to play in the nation and the third in the SEC. Sporting News ranked it first, while Bleacher Report ranked it as the 5th toughest and 2nd best stadium in the country.
The Alabama Crimson Tide has a history of stunning years and those years were carried by award-winning players and athletes. These include All-American players who played for the Alabama Crimson Tide. And, for those that don’t know, All-American players are those that several publications list as being on their “ideal dream teams”. The NCAA recognizes five of these All-American lists; the Associated Press (AP), American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), Sporting News (TSN), and the Walter Camp Football Foundation (WCFF).
To date, Alabama has had 148 players honored 171 times as first team All-Americans in its history. This includes 19 players who were honored twice and two players who were honored three times.
The most recent All-Americans came after the 2021 season. These were Will Anderson, Evan Neal, Jameson Williams and Bryce Young who were each named First Team All-America by various selectors.
College Football Hall of Fame inductees
1951 saw the opening of the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend=, Indiana. Since then, Alabama has had 22 players and four former coaches inducted into the hall of fame. Here is a short list of those players with details on their positions and when they were inducted.
- Name/Time at Alabama / Position / Inducted
- Cornelius Bennett 1983–1986 LB 2005
- Johnny Mack Brown 1923–1925 HB 1957
- Paul “Bear” Bryant 1958–1982 Head coach 1986
- Johnny Cain 1930–1932 FB 1973
- Sylvester Croom 1972-1974 C 2022
- Harry Gilmer 1944–1947 QB, DB 1993
- John Hannah 1970–1972 OG 1999
- Frank Howard 1928–1930 OG 1989
- Dixie Howell 1932–1934 HB 1970
- Pooley Hubert 1922–1925 QB 1964
- Don Hutson 1932–1934 E 1951
- Lee Roy Jordan 1960–1962 LB 1983
- E.J. Junior 1977–1980 DE 2020
- Woodrow Lowe 1972–1975 LB 2009
- Vaughn Mancha 1944–1947 C 1990
- Johnny Musso 1969–1971 HB 2000
- Billy Neighbors 1959–1961 T 2003
- Ozzie Newsome 1974–1977 SE 1994
- Fred Sington 1928–1930 T 1955
- Riley Smith 1934–1935 QB 1985
- Gene Stallings 1990–1996 Head coach 2010
- Derrick Thomas 1985–1988 LB 2014
- Frank Thomas 1931–1946 Head coach 1951
- Wallace Wade 1923–1930 Head coach 1955
- Don Whitmire 1941–1942 T 1956
- Marty Lyons 1975–1978 DT 2012
Ever since Bryant-Denny became the sole stadium for the Crimson Tide, it has had some stunning matches. This includes the 1994 match between Alabama and Georgia. During this game, Alabama’s Jay Barker and Georgia’s Eric Zeier were hotly competing. BThere was also Marvin Constant’s goal-line stop against LSU in 1999 that ended the game just as time expired. And of course there was the 21-3 victory over No. 5 Florida in 2005.
It’s clear that legendary matches often end up in Bryant-Denny Stadium.