Roll In The Top 10 Alabama Quarterbacks of All Time
There is so much to anticipate and be excited about as we enter this 2010 campaign Tide fans!
But, as we eyeball this Saturday's opener and take the first step towards a potential 14th National Championship, it is always good to get grounded with why we are Alabama fans in the first place.
There are thousands and thousands of locals, masses of alumni, hundreds of former players, and throngs of fans throughout America who latch on to Alabama's rich college football history. It's that tradition and history of consistent success that make this program so intriguing and powerful.
Ironically, it is not the history of the quarterback position that dominates the winning ways in Tuscaloosa. Check out some of the box scores from the 70's with just a handful of pass attempts in certain games. If your favorite QB went 4-6 and tossed for 18 yards, you would quickly ask, "Is he ok? How long will he be out?"
But sprinkled throughout Alabama lore are some serious winners, leaders, and passers who led the Tide to double digit wins and national titles.
So all of you Alabama faithful—what's your criteria? Does your top QB have to have a National Title? Does he have to have big-time throwing stats or are you looking for your best leader?
I, personally, wanted to focus on winning championships, but there are quite a few Alabama signal callers who may have been more productive as defensive linemen. I tried to respect winning titles, but also understand that today's definition of the position is someone who can stick it in a receiver's chest 30 yards downfield between five defensive backs.
I also tossed out any post Alabama achievements....sorry Bart Starr.
So let's Roll from 10 to one...
No. 10 ~ Steadman Shealy, Jr.
So I kick off the list with a focus on winning.
Shealy was a wishbone quarterback who was on the 1978 National Championship team, started under center on the 1979 Title squad, and was an integral part of the longest winning streak in Tide history, 28 consecutive victories.
Shealy actually finished tenth in the 1979 Heisman voting, and may have been best remembered for his heroics in the 1978 Iron Bowl. He started the game with an uncharacteristic 28-yard TD pass and finished the game with a go-ahead TD run and two-point conversion to bury the rival Tigers.
I know some of you will chuckle over a 45-81, 717 yards, four TD passing statistics in the 1979 undefeated season (yes, the entire season). But this Alabama leader ran for 944 yards and hit paydirt eleven times!
No. 9 ~ Brodie Croyle
Yes, what could have been. That is one of the first things that comes to mind when we think of Brodie. He was brash, exciting, accurate...and injured.
Croyle is one of four who made my Top 10 without a national title on his resume.
In 2003, amidst the Mike Price "era," he was able to tie the single season TD passing mark of 16 at the time, while missing one game and parts of others. During the shortened 2004 campaign due to the knee injury, Croyle appeared to be on his way to a huge season after three games—44-66 completed; 534 yards, and six touchdowns.
The 2005 season is what catapults Croyle into the Top 10, not just because of his numbers, but this is the year he proved he could win.
During his first three years, he not only had injuries, but he had one coach after another, and not the usual Bama supporting cast. But in this year he led Alabama to a 10-2 record and Cotton Bowl victory to put the Crimson Tide back on the map.
Final career numbers—488-869 completed, 6,382 yards, and 41 touchdown passes.
No. 8 ~ Steve Sloan
28-4-1 was the Crimson Tide's record during a stretch when Sloan was barking signals as a back-up for Joe Namath in 1963, and then as the starter in '64 and '65. Of course 1965 propels Sloan into this group with an Alabama National Championship and All-American honors.
Sloan was one of only four quarterbacks to earn All-American honors in Alabama history.
I found a few all-time SEC quarterback lists that have Sloan as an honorable mention beyond the Top 10. There was one 'Bama QB in the Top 10 and three honorable mentions, which puts him in Tide top four in some people's minds.
No. 7 ~ Greg McElroy
This is the tricky one.
No championship and he doesn't sniff this list. One more championship and he could be in the Top 3.
I tried not to be too influenced by the present, but this guy handled the impenetrable force named the Florida Tebows and led us to victory in Pasadena. I, as many Tide fans are, am convinced that he would have handled himself just fine if Colt McCoy played and the game required more of an aerial attack from the Tide.
I know, not as decorated as Sloan, and nowhere near Croyle's numbers, but I think the seven slot fits for now. I think we all want him to move up on this list because that means more titles in Tuscaloosa.
He has poise, pocket presence, and keeps mistakes to a minimum. I love the 17:4 touchdown to interception ratio during his junior season.
Roll Greg in 2011!
No. 6 ~ Harry Gilmer
I know, I know, there is always one of these studs that a lot of us never got to see play and can only read about. But this is what I miss about sports, the mystery and the mystique.
This guy must have been awesome to watch.
A quarterback who wore No. 52 -- that is awesome in itself.
Gilmer was an All-American in 1945 and was part of the Heisman mix in '45 and '47. He finished his Tide career with 2,025 rushing yards and 19 TDs, passed for 2,863 yards and 29 TDs.
Oh by the way, the 1946 Rose Bowl MVP also scored on punt returns, kickoff returns, and picked off a pass for a touchdown. That's 52 touchdowns for number 52!
No national championships for this monster of an Alabama legend.
No. 5 ~ Pat Trammell
Pat Trammell was a flat out winner, best know for being the quarterback that kicked off the amazing run of Bear Bryant's career.
His statistics were quite typical of most quarterbacks during the Bryant era, but he led Alabama to a 26-2-4 record under his guidance.
This All-American's biggest achievement was guiding the Tide to an 11-0 mark and fulfilling Coach Bryant's prediction of bringing a National Championship back to Tuscaloosa, their first title in sixteen years at the time.
No. 4 ~ John Parker Wilson
Wow, he started as "will he make my list?"
Then I recalled that, if it wasn't for Tebow and the Gators, he might have been the leader of one of the best Alabama seasons in history (I think the Tide would have stepped up a bit more if their bowl game was the BCS Title tilt).
Lastly, he owns just about every Alabama passing record that exists.
I know that Wilson caused some fans some frustration, especially in some of the biggest games, but this guy could sling it. To hold so many records in the most successful college football program of all time is saying something.
No. 3 ~ Kenny Stabler
With all of Alabama's success, it is amazing how many more National Championships they could have racked up.
In the case of "The Snake" it wasn't about losing the big game or getting tripped up in an early season defeat, it was the polls. Alabama tore off eleven straight in 1966 under Stabler, including a dominant Sugar Bowl performance over Nebraska, 34-7.
But the pollsters liked Notre Dame and Michigan State over the Tide.
Stabler was 28-3-2 as Alabama's starting quarterback.
He had a snakebit career in a way, being on two national championship teams, then taking over and leading the Tide to an undefeated non-title season, and then finishing up with a underachieving 8-2-1 campaign. But, he provided one of the greatest moments in Tide history with the "run in the mud" in an Iron Bowl victory over rival Auburn.
No. 2 ~ Jay Barker
I loved this guy.
Jay Barker was a battler. Funny as you try to find an image of this legendary 'Bama QB, you find more pictures of Sara Evans, the famous country singer.
Alabama football is about winning games. And Barker won at a clip better than any other with a 35-2-1 mark and the 1992 National Championship over an arrogant Miami Hurricane squad who was favored by more than a touchdown.
As I do my Alabama research, this guy doesn't get enough credit. He was a winning quarterback who was asked to throw. We know that many of Bear Bryant's signal callers were asked to manage the game and chuck it five or six times a game. But under Gene Stallings, Barker ran a balanced offense that included a decent aerial attack.
No. 1 ~ Joe Namath
What's not to love?
After a run with Namath and Stabler, I was never sure why The Bear never landed another big time passer.
The 1964 National Championship and 29-4 career mark represents the winning side of Joe Willie's 'Bama career.
And his numbers were solid, but not off the charts—most notably the career 25-19 TD-Interception ratio.
Namath went about his business with a unique flair and athleticism that even Bryant marveled over. Bryant was good for Namath. Namath was good for Bryant. These two can't say that about many.