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Alabama Football: Top Coaches in Crimson Tide History

Blake SilversAnalyst IIIJanuary 11, 2017

Alabama Football: Top Coaches in Crimson Tide History

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    When a college football program racks up as many national championships as the University of Alabama, it is not by accident.  Getting to the top of the heap that many times take great coaching, great players and a little luck.

    The Crimson Tide have certainly had great players, but Tuscaloosa has been blessed with even better coaches.  This list attempts to list the five greatest in Alabama history.  Great coaches were easy to find, but the matter of ranking them in a particular order was quite a challenge. 

    Be sure to leave a comment, good or bad.  Enjoy. 

5. Gene Stallings (1990-1996)

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    When Gene Stallings came to Tuscaloosa the Crimson Tide had not seen anywhere near the same amount of consistent success since Bear Bryant retired after the 1982 season.  After the controversial hiring of Bill Curry away from Georgia Tech, and his inability to beat rival Auburn, Alabama fans were ready for a change.

    Stallings had played for Coach Bryant at Texas A&M, and later coached at his alma mater.  At Alabama he was able to immediately beat Auburn, and within three seasons Stallings would have the Tide back on top with a Sugar Bowl win and a national championship.  

    Stats at 'Bama:

    Seven seasons, 70-16-1 overall, 43-12-1 SEC, 5-1 in bowls


    Ntional Championship- 1992

    SEC Championships- 1992 (inaugural SEC title game),

    SEC West Championships- 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996

    SEC Coach of the Year- 1992, 1994

    AFCA Coach of the Year- 1992

    Bear Bryant Coach of the Year- 1992

    Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year- 1992

    Walter Camp Coach of the Year- 1992

    George Munger Award- 1992

    Alabama Sports Hall of Fame- 1995

    College Football Hall of Fame- 2010

4. Wallace Wade (1923-1930)

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    Duke's football stadium is named after coach Wallace Wade, but before he was winning SEC Championships in Durham, he had already build Alabama football into a national powerhouse.  

    When Wade took his football team to Pasadena for the 1926 Rose Bowl Game, it was the first time a team from the Southeast had been invited to a game of that significance.  Though Georgia Tech had already won a national title under John Heisman in 1917, they did so before bowls were standard practice.  

    Wade put Alabama football on the map and helped to continue the evolution of Southeast football into the religious-like experience it is today.  

    Stats at 'Bama:

    Eight Seasons, 61-13-3 overall, 45-10-2 SoCon, 2-0-1 in bowls


    National championships- 1925, 1926, 1930

    SoCon Championships- 1924, 1925 1926, 1930

    Alabama Sports Hall of Fame- 1970

    College Football Hall of Fame- 1955

3. Frank Thomas (1931-1946)

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    Coach Frank Thomas came to Tuscaloosa after coaching Southern Conference rival Chattanooga and had immediate success.  Thomas was at the helm of the Crimson Tide for over a decade and never had anything close to a losing season.

    Thomas won a national title and took the Tide to all four major bowl games during his career, and did so when a trip to a bowl game was far from common.  Thomas built upon the ground work that Wallace Wade had laid, and kept Alabama football on the national stage.  

    Stats at 'Bama:

    15 seasons (no team in 1943), 115-24-7 overall, 68-18-3 SoCon/SEC, 4-2 in bowls


    National Championship- 1934

    SEC Championships- 1933, 1934, 1937, 1945

    SEC Coach of the Year- 1945

    Alabama Sports Hall of Fame- 1969

    College Football Hall of Fame- 1951

2. Nick Saban (2007-Present)

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    When Nick Saban arrived on campus, Alabama football had been largely irrelevant since the 1990s, and they had lost to Auburn five times in a row.  Saban had a tough first season in 2007 with the Tide, but by the 2008 season he had shown that he was the right man for the job.

    By the next season, Alabama fans had another crystal football, and only had to wait two more years for the next.  With a BCS title in 2011, his second in three seasons, Saban blew past Wade and Thomas as the second-best coach in Alabama history.  Does he have time to move into first?  

    Stats at 'Bama: 

    Five seasons, 55-12 overall, 32-8 SEC, 4-1 in bowls


    National Championships- 2009, 2011

    SEC Championships- 2009

    SEC West Championships- 2008, 2009

    SEC Coach of the Year- 2008, 2009

    AP National Coach of the Year- 2008

    Home Depot Coach of the Year- 2008

    Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year- 2008

    Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year- 2008

    AFCA Region II Coach of the Year- 2009

    Amos Alonzo Stagg Award- 2010

1. Bear Bryant (1958-1982)

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    This slide is no surprise to anyone.  Bear Bryant is spoken of among Alabama fans with an almost religious-like tone.  His giant figure still casts its shadow over the Tuscaloosa campus, and his career is the high-water mark for all that follow in his footsteps.

    There isn't enough time to cover all of Bryant's accolades, so I'll let his number speak for themselves.  

    Stats at 'Bama:

    25 seasons, 232-46-9 overall, 146-22-5 SEC, 12-10-2 in bowls


    National Championships- 1961, 1964*, 1965, 1973*, 1978, 1979

    SEC Championships- 1950, 1961, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1971, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1981

    SEC Coach of the Year- 1950, 1959, 1961, 1964, 1965, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1981

    AFCA Coach of the Year- 1961, 1971, 1973

    Alabama Sports Hall of Fame- 1969

    College Football Hall of Fame- 1986

    Winningest coach in Alabama football history

    (*lost bowl after poll was released)

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