Column: Best ever? Alabama, Saban closing in on title - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Column: Best ever? Alabama, Saban closing in on title

Posted: Updated:
Alabama has already established itself as one of college football's greatest dynasties under Nick Saban. (AP Photo/Dave Martin) Alabama has already established itself as one of college football's greatest dynasties under Nick Saban. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
  • Related LinksMore>>

  • Iron Bowl 2013: Auburn 34, Alabama 28 FINAL

    Iron Bowl 2013: Live scoring updates, team stats

    Saturday, November 30 2013 9:47 PM EST2013-12-01 02:47:59 GMT
    We will update this story throughout the Iron Bowl with live scoring updates and team statistics from No. 1 Alabama's showdown with No. 4 Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium.You can also get live updates byMore >>
    We will update this story throughout the Iron Bowl with live scoring updates and team statistics from No. 1 Alabama's showdown with No. 4 Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium.You can also get live updates byMore >>

(AP) -- Alabama has already established itself as one of college football's greatest dynasties under Nick Saban.

Bu they're not the best ever. Not quite.

Let's not forget some powerhouses that came before — most notably the Oklahoma teams of Bud Wilkinson.

For more than a decade, a period stretching from the last five games of the 1947 season through 1958, the Sooners went 112-8-2, captured three national titles, and won 12 straight conference championships.

"Pretty good, huh?" quipped Jay O'Neal, who didn't lose a game while serving as Oklahoma's backup quarterback from 1954-56.

Indeed, no one has ever played the game at such a high level for such a long period.

At the moment, that remains the greatest dynasty in college football history, ranking right up there with any sport.

But Alabama will have a pretty good argument if — and this is a big if — it can win the final three games of the season, locking up an unprecedented third straight national title and fourth in five years.

"We all know how hard it is to win any game, much less win as consistently as they have," said Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, who played at Alabama in the early 1990s. "If they are able to go on and finish, win out and make it three national championships in a row, they'll certainly deserve to be in the conversation with whatever dynasties there are from years past."

During Oklahoma's amazing run, the Sooners had four undefeated seasons and set a record that still stands by winning 47 games in a row. They were in every game, never losing by more than seven points.

O'Neal gives much of the credit to Wilkinson, whose methods sound awfully familiar to the guy in Tuscaloosa.

"The preparation was unbelievable," O'Neal said of his former boss, who died in 1994. "We didn't go out there for the first day of practice and say, 'You stand right here, we'll snap the ball, and then you run that way.' No, it was, 'Stand at exactly this angle, put your feet this way, exactly this far back, then you'll make your first step with your left foot, and then your right foot will cross over.'"

O'Neal takes nothing away from what Alabama has accomplished under Saban over the last five years, going 60-5 and standing at the cusp of a historic three-peat.

In a sense, it's comforting to know that some things never change, even though it's a much different game than the one O'Neal played in the 1950s, when substitution rules were much stricter and two-way players common. Wilkinson came up with a revolutionary concept at the time, having two different 11-man units that he swapped out midway through each quarter.

"They're doing a lot of the same things we did," O'Neal said, chatting about Alabama from his home in Colorado. "They're well-organized, well-coached and they eliminate mistakes. Most teams today beat themselves."

The top-ranked Crimson Tide still has a lot of work to do, beginning with Saturday's Iron Bowl showdown — the biggest game of the year — against No. 4 Auburn. If Alabama gets past the Tigers, they'll meet either No. 5 Missouri or No. 10 South Carolina in the Southeastern Conference championship game. Should the Tide clear that hurdle, No. 2 Florida State would likely be waiting in the BCS title game in Pasadena.

Alabama could steal away Oklahoma's title as the best ever by getting through this season-ending gauntlet.

"I'm subject to my own history, my own age," said LSU coach Les Miles, whose team lost to the Tide 38-17 in early November. "But I would have to say that in my time, it would certainly be defendable as maybe the most productive time in football history that there is."

Along with Oklahoma, here are some others to consider:

— Nebraska (1993-97). Tom Osborne closed his coaching career in style, going 60-3 over his last five years, taking two national titles outright and sharing another. If the Cornhuskers had made a 45-yard field goal on the final play of the 1994 Orange Bowl, they would've taken four titles in five years, beating Alabama to the punch.

— Florida State (1987-2000). Along with Oklahoma, the most long-standing run of sustained excellence. Bobby Bowden's Seminoles went 152-19-1 over 14 seasons, won two national titles and never finished lower than fifth in the final AP poll. If only they had made a few more clutch field goals.

— Miami (1983-92). The Hurricanes might've been renegades, but there was no denying their success on the field. They went 107-14 and took four national titles in a decade under three different head coaches.

— Southern Cal (2002-08). The Trojans went 82-9 and were less than a minute from winning their third straight national title before Vince Young led Texas to a 41-38 victory in the 2006 Rose Bowl, one of college football's greatest games. Of course, USC's accomplishments were tarnished by NCAA violations.

— Notre Dame (1943-49). The Fighting Irish posted a 60-5-3 record and won four national championships in seven years, all while dueling with the team we'll mention next.

— Army (1944-1950). Red Blaik's Cadets captured a pair of national titles and finished second in the AP poll two other times while going 57-3-4.

— Michigan (1901-05). It was a totally different game at the turn of the last century, but college football's first dynasty is worth noting. The Wolverines went 55-1-1 and outscored opponents 2,821-42.

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier sees no end in sight to Alabama's dominance.

"When you have the No. 1 recruiting class almost every year, there's no letup," Spurrier said. "As long as Nick Saban is there and they keep recruiting like they're doing, they'll keep on keeping on."

And maybe go down as the best ever.

___

Paul Newberry is a national writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at pnewberry@ap.org or www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

  • Central Alabama NewsMore>>

  • Blount County DA cracking down on degrading social media accounts

    Blount County DA cracking down on degrading social media accounts

    Thursday, April 24 2014 10:06 PM EDT2014-04-25 02:06:14 GMT
    Blount County District Attorney Pamela Casey is on a mission to shut down several Instagram accounts degrading young women throughout the county. The accounts with names such as "WHORESOFBLOUNTCOUNTY" and "SLUTSOFSUSANMORE" show pictures of teenagers with degrading comments underneath. Casey said the pictures are used without the girls' permission. One site has been taken down, and Casey has asked the social media website to remove them all.More >>
    Blount County District Attorney Pamela Casey is on a mission to shut down several Instagram accounts degrading young women throughout the county. The accounts with names such as "WHORESOFBLOUNTCOUNTY" and "SLUTSOFSUSANMORE" show pictures of teenagers with degrading comments underneath. Casey said the pictures are used without the girls' permission. One site has been taken down, and Casey has asked the social media website to remove them all.More >>
  • State Rep. Barry Moore arrested on felony perjury charges in connection with public corruption investigation

    State Rep. Barry Moore arrested on felony perjury charges in connection with public corruption investigation

    Thursday, April 24 2014 12:32 PM EDT2014-04-24 16:32:51 GMT
    MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- An member of the Alabama House of Representatives was arrested Thursday on perjury charges, acting Alabama Attorney General W. Van Davis said.More >>
    MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- An member of the Alabama House of Representatives was arrested Thursday on perjury charges, acting Alabama Attorney General W. Van Davis said.More >>
  • Deputy Arrested For Synthetic Marijuana

    Deputy Arrested For Synthetic Marijuana

    Thursday, April 24 2014 7:57 AM EDT2014-04-24 11:57:01 GMT
    A Russell County Sheriff's deputy is accused of participating in a drug trafficking operation.The man was arrested Wednesday after police found 1.5 pounds of synthetic marijuana, or spice, in his Lee County apartment. The deputy has been with the sheriff's department for about two months where he worked in the traffic division. He previously worked as a police officer in Phenix City, Ala.It's unclear if charges have officially been filed in the case. A call to the sheriff's office wasn't imme...More >>
    A Russell County Sheriff's deputy is accused of participating in a drug trafficking operation.The man was arrested Wednesday after police found 1.5 pounds of synthetic marijuana, or spice, in his Lee County apartment. The deputy has been with the sheriff's department for about two months where he worked in the traffic division. He previously worked as a police officer in Phenix City, Ala.It's unclear if charges have officially been filed in the case. A call to the sheriff's office wasn't imme...More >>
  • Birmingham Area NewsMore>>

  • UPDATE: Promoter responds to criticism over teen "wet" and "twerk" parties

    UPDATE: Promoter responds to criticism over teen "wet" and "twerk" parties

    Thursday, April 24 2014 11:58 PM EDT2014-04-25 03:58:57 GMT
    Recent parties asking teens to "freak," "twerk" and "get wet" are raising safety concerns among Birmingham City leaders.Some of the parties have been held at the Continental Ballroom and other venues for quite some time. Earlier this month, a shooting at the Continental Ballroom resulted in one teenager's injuries. City leaders, consequently, revoked the owner and party promoter's business licenses for that incident and prior complaints.But other upcoming teen parties are planned. They all ch...More >>
    Recent parties asking teens to "freak," "twerk" and "get wet" are raising safety concerns among Birmingham City leaders.Some of the parties have been held at the Continental Ballroom and other venues for quite some time. Earlier this month, a shooting at the Continental Ballroom resulted in one teenager's injuries. City leaders, consequently, revoked the owner and party promoter's business licenses for that incident and prior complaints.But other upcoming teen parties are planned. They all ch...More >>
  • XXX Games?

    XXX Games?

    Thursday, April 24 2014 10:30 PM EDT2014-04-25 02:30:09 GMT
    Instructions from the Entertainment Software Rating Board on setting controls Sony PlayStation® 4 Finding the "Parental Controls" Options From the Dynamic Menu, using the left stick or directional pad,More >>
     Some so-called gamers are putting themselves on full display, some of them going so far as having sex while thousands of people, possibly some under aged, watched. We have included instructions from the Entertainment Software Rating Board on how to set the controls for Sony PlayStation® 4 and Microsoft Xbox One®.More >>
  • Housing director: pipe replacement complete in Marks Village

    Housing director: pipe replacement complete in Marks Village

    Thursday, April 24 2014 6:37 PM EDT2014-04-24 22:37:50 GMT
    All piping inside the Mark Village Housing Development in Gate City has been replaced, according to Naomi Truman, executive director of the Housing Authority--Birmingham District. Truman told ABC 33/40More >>
    Continuing coverageMore >>
Most Popular
Stories
Videos
loading...
  • Latest StoriesMore>>

  • UPDATE: Promoter responds to criticism over teen "wet" and "twerk" parties

    UPDATE: Promoter responds to criticism over teen "wet" and "twerk" parties

    Thursday, April 24 2014 11:58 PM EDT2014-04-25 03:58:57 GMT
    Recent parties asking teens to "freak," "twerk" and "get wet" are raising safety concerns among Birmingham City leaders.Some of the parties have been held at the Continental Ballroom and other venues for quite some time. Earlier this month, a shooting at the Continental Ballroom resulted in one teenager's injuries. City leaders, consequently, revoked the owner and party promoter's business licenses for that incident and prior complaints.But other upcoming teen parties are planned. They all ch...More >>
    Recent parties asking teens to "freak," "twerk" and "get wet" are raising safety concerns among Birmingham City leaders.Some of the parties have been held at the Continental Ballroom and other venues for quite some time. Earlier this month, a shooting at the Continental Ballroom resulted in one teenager's injuries. City leaders, consequently, revoked the owner and party promoter's business licenses for that incident and prior complaints.But other upcoming teen parties are planned. They all ch...More >>
  • Blount County DA cracking down on degrading social media accounts

    Blount County DA cracking down on degrading social media accounts

    Thursday, April 24 2014 10:06 PM EDT2014-04-25 02:06:14 GMT
    Blount County District Attorney Pamela Casey is on a mission to shut down several Instagram accounts degrading young women throughout the county. The accounts with names such as "WHORESOFBLOUNTCOUNTY" and "SLUTSOFSUSANMORE" show pictures of teenagers with degrading comments underneath. Casey said the pictures are used without the girls' permission. One site has been taken down, and Casey has asked the social media website to remove them all.More >>
    Blount County District Attorney Pamela Casey is on a mission to shut down several Instagram accounts degrading young women throughout the county. The accounts with names such as "WHORESOFBLOUNTCOUNTY" and "SLUTSOFSUSANMORE" show pictures of teenagers with degrading comments underneath. Casey said the pictures are used without the girls' permission. One site has been taken down, and Casey has asked the social media website to remove them all.More >>
  • IndyCar drivers Power, Pagenaud enter Barber weekend with tension over Long Beach incident

    IndyCar drivers Power, Pagenaud enter Barber weekend with tension over Long Beach incident

    Thursday, April 24 2014 9:00 PM EDT2014-04-25 01:00:42 GMT
    A week off did nothing to mellow the tension between Simon Pagenaud and Will Power stemming from contact between the two at Long Beach.More >>
    A week off did nothing to mellow the tension between Simon Pagenaud and Will Power stemming from contact between the two at Long Beach.
    More >>
  • Tuscaloosa documents city's post-tornado progress in three videos

    Tuscaloosa documents city's post-tornado progress in three videos

    Thursday, April 24 2014 8:08 PM EDT2014-04-25 00:08:47 GMT
     Motto: Safer, Smarter & StrongerMore >>
     Motto: Safer, Smarter & StrongerMore >>
  • Authorities find body of Riverside man who went missing in Lake Logan Martin

    Authorities find body of Riverside man who went missing in Lake Logan Martin

    Thursday, April 24 2014 6:57 PM EDT2014-04-24 22:57:29 GMT
    ST. CLAIR COUNTY, Ala. -- Authorities have found the body of a Riverside man who went missing in Logan Martin Lake last weekend."At approximately 2:40 pm today the body of Mr. Willie Cosby was recovered from Logan Martin Lake in Riverside by search personnel," St. Clair County Sheriff Billy Murray said in a released statement. "Mr. Cosby was located in the area where multiple agencies have been searching since Monday morning."Cosby, 48, was fishing with his wife when he fell from the boat at ...More >>
    ST. CLAIR COUNTY, Ala. -- Authorities have found the body of a Riverside man who went missing in Logan Martin Lake last weekend."At approximately 2:40 pm today the body of Mr. Willie Cosby was recovered from Logan Martin Lake in Riverside by search personnel," St. Clair County Sheriff Billy Murray said in a released statement. "Mr. Cosby was located in the area where multiple agencies have been searching since Monday morning."Cosby, 48, was fishing with his wife when he fell from the boat at ...More >>
  • Shelby County mom expected in court next week

    Shelby County mom expected in court next week

    Thursday, April 24 2014 6:39 PM EDT2014-04-24 22:39:08 GMT
    Prosecutors in Shelby County have asked a judge to require an Alabaster mother to undergo random drug and alcohol screenings.More >>
    Prosecutors in Shelby County have asked a judge to require an Alabaster mother to undergo random drug and alcohol screenings.More >>
  • Housing director: pipe replacement complete in Marks Village

    Housing director: pipe replacement complete in Marks Village

    Thursday, April 24 2014 6:37 PM EDT2014-04-24 22:37:50 GMT
    All piping inside the Mark Village Housing Development in Gate City has been replaced, according to Naomi Truman, executive director of the Housing Authority--Birmingham District. Truman told ABC 33/40More >>
    Continuing coverageMore >>
  • Benefit concert to assist and celebrate rehab of injured Gadsden officer

    Benefit concert to assist and celebrate rehab of injured Gadsden officer

    Thursday, April 24 2014 6:06 PM EDT2014-04-24 22:06:29 GMT
    An Etowah County drug investigator who suffered a severe brain injury last month began taking steps in rehab this week.A truck collided with Gary Pierce as he rode his motorcycle while off duty March 15. He spent four week in intensive care at UAB before a transfer to Spain Rehabilitation Center.Pierce walked more than 250 feet Wednesday with the assistance of a walker. His commander at the Etowah County Drug Task Force, Rob Savage, said Pierce shows signs of improvement every day."He's talki...More >>
    An Etowah County drug investigator who suffered a severe brain injury last month began taking steps in rehab this week.A truck collided with Gary Pierce as he rode his motorcycle while off duty March 15. He spent four week in intensive care at UAB before a transfer to Spain Rehabilitation Center.Pierce walked more than 250 feet Wednesday with the assistance of a walker. His commander at the Etowah County Drug Task Force, Rob Savage, said Pierce shows signs of improvement every day."He's talki...More >>