The 2009 Alabama Football Season: The best in Crimson Tide History?
Alabama football may be one of the richest, most storied sports programs in the history of this great nation. When you think of college football, it’s hard not to think of the Crimson Tide and the many great coaches and players that have walked the sidelines of Bryant-Denny Stadium. Throughout Alabama’s rich history the team has won 13 National Championships, 22 SEC Championships, 31 bowl games, and 792 total games. Trying to pick out the best season in this rich history is very tough, but is 2009 the best Crimson Tide season of all time?
When I say that 2009 was Alabama’s best season, I am in no way trying to say that the 2009 squad was the best of all time. I am simply saying that the season as a whole in 2009 was the best ever. In 2009 Alabama accomplished things that they had never done before, and many other schools in the nation had ever done before. In 2009 Alabama had a record of 14-0 and won its 13th National Title beating Texas 37-21 in the Citi BCS National Championship Game played in Pasadena. This was the first 14-0 team in Alabama’s history and only the third FBS team ever to do it along with Ohio State in 2002 and Boise State who also did it in 2009.
Alabama also had another big first for them in 2009, a Heisman Trophy winner. On Dec. 12, 2009 Mark Ingram became the program’s first Heisman Trophy winner in the closest vote in the history of the contest. Ingram rushed for 1,542 yards throughout the season. The closest anyone had ever come to a Heisman for the Tide before Ingram was David Palmer who finished third in 1993.
The 2009 season has some of the most memorable moments in Alabama’s history. On Sept. 5, 2009 the Crimson Tide traveled to the Georgia Dome to face off against the seventh-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies in the second annual Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. Alabama went on to win 34-24. Alabama’s next big test was when they went to Oxford to face the 20th ranked Ole Miss Rebels, Alabama won 22-3 on a five field goal day from Leigh Tiffin. The next week Alabama returned to Bryant-Denny for homecoming, where they took on South Carolina. A final drive that featured exclusively Mark Ingram in the wildcat formation sealed the win for the Tide 20-6. Next the newly number one-ranked Crimson Tide took on arch-rival Tennessee, Alabama was driving to hopefully seal the game when Ingram had his one and only fumble of the season. It took a block from nose tackle Terrance Cody as time expired to save the victory for the Tide 12-10.
After a 73-yard screen pass that wide out Julio Jones took to the house pretty much sealed the deal against number nine LSU, Alabama seemingly cruised along until there Black Friday showdown with in-state rival Auburn. It took a pass from quarterback Greg McElroy to running back Roy Upchurch in the late moments of the game to seal a come from behind victory to assure a perfect record against number one Florida in the SEC Championship game.
The SEC Championship game was one of the most highly anticipated football games of all time. It pitted number one Florida and number two Alabama in a rematch of last year’s SEC title game. From start to finish the Tide dominated winning 32-13 and leaving former Florida Heisman winner Tim Tebow weeping on the field.
To go along with all these amazing feats, Alabama also had a NCAA record six First Team All-Americans. They were RB Ingram, OL Mike Johnson, K Leigh Tiffin, NT Terrance Cody, CB Javier Arenas, and Dick Butkus award winner LB Rolando McClain. Along with six All-Americans, Alabama head coach Nick Saban also won Coach of the Year honors, and it was announced after the year that he would be getting a statue outside the stadium in Alabama’s Walk of Champions.
You could argue the best teams in Alabama history all day long, and in some talks the 2009 squad might not even come up. However, if you are to talk about the best all around seasons in Crimson Tide history, its hard not to include the 2009 year. Was it the best year in the Crimson Tide’s rich and storied tradition? Only time will tell.