Six National Titles And 25 Years Keeps The Houndstooth Hat Hanging High
It was Saban’s fourth title with the Tide since he took over in 2097 and fourth in seven yeas since his first in 2009. That is impressive to say the least.
But most Bama fans would growl like a bear at Saban being called the best at a school that, if it beats Clemson, would have 16 National Championships. That’s because he would be one title short – and two titles short of Alabama – behind the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant.
Bryant won six national titles and coached at Alabama for 25 years. He was a tall, imposing figure who wore a houndstooth hat and had a low-rumbling, intimidating voice as if he had rocks in his mouth.
He was hated in Auburn and Knoxville and looked on as a god in Alabama. He had a presence, and that presence still exists today in Tuscaloosa. To get to the games, Saban has to go down Paul W. Bryant Drive., to reach Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Paul Finebaum, who should know better, kind of knocked one of Bryant’s championships. That was the one in 1973 when the Tide lost 24-23 to Notre Dame (on a missed extra point) but was named the UPI National Champion because that wire service voted before the bowl games.
Yet it ignores Notre Dame twice costing Bryant titles, in 1066 when the undefeated Tide was out-voted after the Irish played for a tie in its last regular season game and in 1977 when they leaped from No. 5, over No. 2 Bama, to No. 1.
So if Alabama does beat Clemson, Saban won’t be the best Alabama coach of all time because he’s not achieved what Bryant did over such a long period of time.
And heck, Bryant may not even be Alabama’s best coach.
Before him was Wallace Wade and Frank Thomas. Wade won three national championships in just eight years, including one capped b a game that put Alabama on the national football map, a 1925 Rose Bowl upset of unbeaten Washington.
Then, mysteriously, he left for Duke.
Thomas, who coached Bama from 1931-1946, was 115-24-7 with two National Championships, in 1934 and 1941. He was Bryant’s coach with the Bear was “the other end” at Bama.