published Friday, December 6th, 2013

Alabama's recent run ranks among the best

  • photo
    Alabama coach Nick Saban watches the scoreboard along with quarterback AJ McCarron, left, and tight end Brandon Greene during the second half of last week’s loss at Auburn.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

ROLLING TIDE

Alabama's record the past six football seasons:

2008 12-2

2009 14-0*

2010 10-3

2011 12-1*

2012 13-1*

2013 11-1

* National champions

Auburn's 34-28 upset of Alabama last Saturday already has several slogans, including "Destiny over Dynasty."

The surging Tigers will test their amazing fortune again this week against Missouri at the Southeastern Conference football championship in Atlanta.

As for Alabama? Well, nobody is expecting the Crimson Tide to fade away any time soon.

"Certainly they have had one of the best runs in college football history, no question about that," South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said, "and it looks like it's going to continue. When you've got the No. 1 recruiting class almost every year, there is no let-up, and they are going to continue being very good.

"They have an outstanding coach and an outstanding coaching staff, and as long as Nick Saban is there and they're recruiting the way they recruit, they've got a chance to just keep on keeping on."

Alabama is 72-8 since the start of the 2008 season, with the most victories for any team from a BCS conference over a six-year period. Saban's Crimson Tide are also No. 1 in the Rivals.com recruiting rankings for the 2014 class, which is where they have finished five of the past six winters.

The Crimson Tide began this season seeking to become the first program to win three consecutive national titles as well as four in a five-year stretch. Saturday's last-play loss to the Tigers likely damaged those aspirations beyond repair, as the 11-1 Tide would need Duke to shock Florida State and Michigan State to defeat Ohio State this Saturday in order to land a spot in the BCS championship.

Last season, Alabama won its third national title in four years to match a feat Nebraska accomplished from 1994 to '97.

"I would have to say that in my time, it would certainly be defendable as maybe as productive a time in football history as there is," LSU coach Les Miles said.

Other dynasties of note in the last 60 years include Oklahoma, which won 47 straight games and two national championships from 1953 to '57; Miami, which won four national titles from 1983 to '91; and Florida State, which posted 14 consecutive 10-win seasons and won two national titles from 1987 to 2000.

Alabama had a dominant run from 1961 to '66 under Bear Bryant, when the Crimson Tide went 60-5-1 and won three national titles. Bryant also had a 54-6 run with one national championship from 1971 to '75 and a 44-4 run from 1977 to '80 with two national titles.

"I think what Saban has done is even better," former Auburn athletic director David Housel said. "Saban is doing this with 85 scholarships, whereas Bryant had 140. Not to take anything away at all from what Bryant did, but I think what Saban is doing is better."

Alabama has won 10 or more games for six consecutive seasons, which matches the SEC record set by Florida from 1993 to '98. Spurrier collected one national championship when he coached the Gators from 1990 to 2001, but he won six SEC titles in those 12 seasons.

"We didn't get credit for the one in '90, otherwise you could say we won six in the first seven years," Spurrier said. "Then we started losing that one game here and there, and we didn't win but one more after that. Our run was more with conference championships. We had to play FSU the last game of the season, and they were in the top five in the nation 11 of the 12 years I was down there, and they're still playing FSU.

"Florida, to me, has one of the most difficult schedules in the nation every year."

Alabama has not lost to Arkansas, Ole Miss or Tennessee since Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa in 2007, and the Tide have won six in a row against Mississippi State. Saban is 5-3 against LSU, including the 21-0 blanking in New Orleans to win the 2011 BCS title, and he's 4-3 against Auburn after last week's loss.

Saban is 6-6 against Auburn dating back to his years at LSU, including an 0-6 mark against Auburn teams that win nine or more games following last week's shocker.

"In the game of football, the best team doesn't always win," Spurrier said. "Sometimes the other team outplays you or the ball bounces another way, but you've certainly got to give those guys credit. They're on one of the best runs ever."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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