Before beginning this part of the series I need to acknowledge a source vital to my research. All the stats pertaining to winning percentages comes from football.stassen.com, and I could not be more appreciative for their efforts. I first found the site in 1998, when Alabama was third all-time in wins and win percentage.
It's not a commercial site, with ads and such, but it is the most comprehensive collection of college football win/loss records I've ever found. It was a little known source back then, and may well be today. But for those who want to easily and accurately compare win-loss records over any given time period it's invaluable.
The previous article covered what could possibly be the most important period in Crimson Tide history. It was certainly their best ever three year span from a defensive point of view.
It could be said that the 1897 season was their best, since there were no points scored against them at all. I have to agree, but given the fact that only one game was played I don't think it should qualify.
This article will pick up where they have their best single season defensively. Unfortunately it would be the last year Wallace Wade coached the Tide.
I will not try to speculate what the real reason for his departure was. It's enough to say there were differences between the coach and the administration, causing Wade to resign after the 1930 season.
This will be the only segment to cover just one year. Combining it with the following four years would increase their overall winning percentage for the next article, but I did not want to overlap coaching tenures. Plus this team did something no other team could do for several years, which is part of their story.
Coach Wade may have been on his way out, but he would not leave before setting a record that still stands.
The season opener was against Howard, known today as Samford University. They may not have ever been a major force in college football, but for their size they have made some remarkable accomplishments.
Most notably when they played the defending Rose Bowl champions, Alabama, to a tie in 1935. But this would not be their year, and Bama won going away, 43-0.
Ol' Miss was next up, and they fared worse than Howard. The game was never close after the 0-0 start, with the Tide winning 64-0.
Sewanee came to Birmingham as a team not that far removed from their glory years. In the period from 1899 until 1910 they ranked above teams like Vanderbilt, Chicago and even Notre Dame.
Overall they were number eight then, but their play had fallen off somewhat in the years after. They were able to hold Alabama to their lowest total up until then, losing only 25-0.
Next up was the favored Volunteers of Tennessee and the legendary Captain Neylan—he would not become a General until WWII. In his first five seasons, from 1926 through 1930, Neylans Vols far outpaced all others. They lost only two games the entire period, and with three ties their winning percentage was .927.
Featuring Bobby Dodd starting at quarterback, and Herman Hickman blocking, they would post a record of 24–1–1. But in this game they did not have the sensational Gene McEver, or two starting ends.
All were out with injuries, and the Tide won a hard fought game 18-6. It was the Volunteers first loss in 33 games, and the only win coach Wade had against them. Their first two games were lost by scores of 15-13 and 6-0, respectively.
With those future College Football Hall of Famers, and others, Tennessee would post their most impressive streak in Vol history. This would be their only loss in 59 games. From 1927 through 1932, including 5 ties, they posted a .940 winning percentage.
Next up was Vanderbilt, the Souths most successful football program during the 1920's, and the fourth ranked overall for the decade. Their head coach, Dan McGugin, was Fielding Yosts' brother-in-law.
Just prior to coming to Vandy he played for Yost in 1901 and 1902. Those teams would become known as the "Point-a-Minute" teams that outscored opponents 100-1.
Under McGugins guidance the Commodores became the dominant football power in the South. He was a great player and an equally good coach, as he showed when his first team outscored opponents 474-4.
By 1930 they had been caught by the Vols for the number one team in Tennessee. And, more importantly, Wallace Wade had brought Alabama up to the pinnacle of Southern football. In his final game against Vanderbilt they would hold off a late game rally to win 12-7.
Next up were Kentucky, Florida and LSU before the season finale against Georgia.
The first three were never in doubt, but Wade seemed either reluctant or unable to rout any of them. After winning 19-0 against Kentucky they were hosted by Florida for Homecoming.
For the dedication of a new stadium the Tide opened with the second team. After they failed to score the first team came in, and again the Florida defense held.
Finally the Tide scored with their third possession. When the rain soaked game was over Alabama had a 20-0 win.
LSU was not as strong on defense as either of the previous two. According to the game recap on the Alabama Athletic website, the second and third teams scored all but one touchdown. In a heavy rain the game ended 33-0.
Georgia seemed determined to spoil Alabama's winning streak. With the team having only one loss it was their strongest since 1927.
Alabama played their best, but the Georgia defense held strong. With a lead of 6-0 the Tide was in danger of losing to a second half rally by Georgia.
After driving to the 15 yard line the Bulldog offense gained no more in three runs. On fourth down they attempted to pass, and Bama sacked the quarterback.
Later, with the game still in question, Alabama returned a punt for 58 yards to the 10. Three plays later and the Crimson Tide had their second touchdown, this time converting the PAT.
As the recap says, "When the whistle sounded ending the game the vast crowd (28,000) cheered long and loud for the man who had done so much for Alabama and Southern football."
When the Rose Bowl invited them Washington State was the opponent. They had a similar defense to Alabama, shutting out five of nine teams and allowing no more than 12 points. But this Crimson Tide team would be coming to avenge their last invitation, a 7-7 tie with Stanford in 1927.
The team would send coach Wade off with a stunning 24-0 Rose Bowl victory, a 10 win season and a National Championship. Their total of 13 points allowed is still the lowest total since the one-game season in 1897.
His overall record was 61-13-3, with an incredible 46 shutouts. In 1924, 1925 and 1930 his teams allowed only two opponents to score each year.
He took the Crimson Tide to three Rose Bowls, for a 2-0-1 record. And of course he won three National Championships, along with the hearts of those in The Heart Of Dixie.