In three years at the helm at the Capstone, coach Nick Saban has managed to restore the Crimson Tide Football fortunes to their rightful place among college football's elite.
Along the way, several of Coach Saban's wins at Alabama can be considered as milestones that pointed to future success as he led the Tide to greatness.
Let's take a look at five of those milestone victories (and an extra one that capped it all off).
In Alabama's 41-17 upset of No. 20 Tennessee, Coach Saban proved that he could beat ranked rivals and beat them with ease. With DJ Hall and John Parker Wilson posting career days, the Tide defense shut out the Vols in the second half to begin the current three-year win streak against UT.
In a prime time game, Coach Saban's No. 8 ranked Tide handed the No. 3 rated Bulldogs a bitter and overwhelming defeat that was not as close as the 41-30 score indicated. In what had been dubbed by Georgia to be a "Blackout" game—both team and fans wearing black—it was Coach Saban's team that turned the lights out in Georgia that evening. This game served notice to the rest of the SEC and the nation that Alabama's program under Coach Saban was back with a vengeance.
Six years. Six long years of frustration and anguish. And, in 60 minutes of football, Coach Saban's team began to erase those painful six years with a 36-0 drubbing of cross-state rival Auburn. The score reflected in the largest margin of victory an Iron Bowl had seen in almost fifty years. Glen Coffee rushed for 144 yards as the No. 1 Crimson Tide began its current two-year win streak against the Tigers.
For the second year, Coach Saban's Tide faced an ACC team in the Chick-fil-A College Kickoff in the Georgia Dome. And, for the second year, the Tide emerged with a victory over a top 10 opponent, beating the Hokies 34-24 before a nationwide audience. The win to open the season showed that Alabama had new resolve following the back-to-back losses to Florida and Utah to end the 2008 season—and that 2009 would be a season to remember.
For a year, Coach Saban's team lived with the defeat at the hands of the coach Urban Meyer's Florida Gators in the 2008 SEC Championship Game. A year later, the Tide rose to the top of the conference again by avenging the loss in an emphatic fashion, sending the defending champion Gators and their high-profile QB Tim Tebow to a devastating defeat, 32-13. MVP Greg McElroy led the way along with RB Mark Ingram (who would win Alabama's first Heisman Trophy the next week). In what was a de facto national championship semifinal, the Tide used the momentum from the Florida game to spur themselves on to the team's 13th national title.
And one extra: The Alabama-Texas game, which saw Coach Saban's team beat the Longhorns, 37-21. The Tide once again sat atop the college football world. Coach Saban's squad proved that "The System" produced champions.