Photo Courtesy: Alabama-MemorabiliaCBSCollege.Com
Ken Stabler had a reputation as a gambler.
Don't bet on it.
Stabler taking the field during his junior and senior seasons was a sure thing for coach Paul Bryant's Crimson Tide.
Alabama lost one regular-season game in that time and the man known as "The Snake" was a primary reason for the success.
Stabler is something of an enigma. He is well liked by fans, respected by foes and admired as one of the all-time most popular members of the Oakland Raiders in professional football.
In college football, Stabler was a bit overshadowed by his circumstances.
The wild days of mid-1960s SEC football did not lend itself to a single domineering presence; there were several future legends making names for themselves during the era.
In Stabler's first season, 1965, he was the second-string quarterback behind Steve Sloan.
Stabler's statistics for the year were underwhelming. He attempted 11 passes and completed three for 26 yards.
Sloan led the Crimson Tide to a 39-28 victory over coach Bob Devaney's undefeated Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Orange Bowl and claimed the mythical AP national championship.
Stabler's junior year of 1966 was his best statistically; he completed 74 passes during the year for 956 yards and seven touchdowns with five interceptions.
His Crimson Tide went undefeated, finished No. 3 in the polls and Stabler led Alabama to the Sugar Bowl (see picture), where they defeated coach Bob Devaney's Nebraska Cornhuskers, 34-7.
Steve Spurrier won the 1966 Heisman Trophy; Ken Stabler was not even mentioned.
The world came crashing down on "The Snake" in his final season at Tuscaloosa in 1967.
Coach Bryant kicked Stabler off the team temporarily due to misbehavior.
This personality trait would go a long way in securing "The Snake's" role as King of the Oakland Raiders' terrifying Silver and Black nation in the 1970s under coach John Madden.
It "cut no ice" for a schoolboy playing under the legendary Bear in the 1960s.
Stabler's performance suffered on the field in '67. He completed 58 percent of his 178 passes but became known as a player who "went to the well once too often."
This reputation proved correct as demonstrated by his 13 interceptions and only nine touchdowns.
Alabama was tied by Florida State in their opener, beaten by Tennessee and lost to Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl during Stabler's senior campaign.
Stabler was a noted runner during his time at Alabama. He rushed for a total of 838 yards and nine touchdowns.
Even that betrayed him during his final year when he averaged only one yard a carry.
Stabler failed to make a dent in the top 10 for the 1967 Heisman Trophy.
He doesn't have the achievements as a passer or runner to qualify him for such notice.
Still, the mystery and excitement of Kenny Stabler remains present.
Obviously, he is considered one of the most liked football players of all time.
It has been said Ken Stabler can walk down the scariest street in the country and all he will be asked for is his autograph.
The legendary Snake—they broke the mold when he was made.