10 moments that defined Alabama football this decade
The decade of Alabama football has drawn to a close, and it can be argued that it was not only the most dominant decade in Crimson Tide history but also in college football history.
- 4 national championships.
- 5 SEC championships.
- Appearances in the first 5 College Football Playoff tournaments.
- A 9-4 record in 13 bowl games (with 1 more to go).
- 76 players selected in the NFL Draft — including 12 in 2018 and 4 1st-rounders in 2011, 2012, 2017 and 2018 — with more to come in April.
- 123 victories in 138 games — a winning percentage of .891.
Narrowing Alabama’s decade of dominance to the Top 10 moments is daunting. One could easily make this a Top 20 or a Top 50 list. But here we go …
10. A dandy dozen go pro in 2018
Most college football programs celebrate when 2 or even 3 players get selected in the NFL Draft. At Alabama, that’s a down year. Coming off a 14-1 national chamionship season, the Crimson Tide had 12 (!!!!) players taken in the 2018 NFL Draft — including 4 in the 1st round.
DB Minkah Fitzpatrick (11th overall) went to the Dolphins, DL Da’Ron Payne (13th overall) went to the Redskins, LB Rashaan Evans (22nd overall) went to the Titans and WR Calvin Ridley (26th overall) went to the Falcons.
DB Ronnie Harrison (3rd round, Jaguars), DL Da’Shawn Hand (4th round, Lions), DB Anthony Averett (4th round, Ravens), P JK Scott (5th round, Packers), LB Shaun Dion Hamilton (6th round, Redskins), C Bradley Bozeman (6th round, Ravens), RB Bo Scarbrough (7th round, Cowboys) and DL Joshua Frazier (7th round, Steelers) rounded out the dozen to hear their names called.
9. NOTs help dominate Florida in 2016
The final score of the 2016 SEC Championship Game — Alabama 54, Florida 16 — is a bit deceiving. It was the Crimson Tide defense that was among the more dominant scoring threats all afternoon in Atlanta. Minkah Fitzpatrick returned a Austin Appleby interception 44 yards for a touchdown, and Joshua Jacobs returned a blocked punt 27 yards for another TD. Those were a part of the Crimson Tide’s incredible 15 non-offensive touchdowns — or NOTs.
8. Sims-‘n’-Shoot in 2014
Blake Sims was a mediocre running back early in his Alabama career but was resurrected as a quarterback in the 2014 season by rookie offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. The result was an 11-1 regular season and a 2014 SEC Championship Game — in which Sims went a crisp 23-of-27 for 262 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a 6-yarder to Christion Jones to put the game out of reach in the 4th quarter.
7. Heisman Henry handles Florida
Fresh off winning Alabama’s 2nd Heisman Trophy, Derrick Henry steamrolled Florida in the 2015 SEC Championship Game — rushing 44 times for 189 yards and a touchdown. It turned out to be Henry’s 2nd gigantic game in 2 weeks, as he rumbled for 271 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown on 46 carries against Auburn in the Iron Bowl.
6. Hurts receives sweet redemption in Atlanta
Jalen Hurts spent most of the 2018 season watching from the sideline, cheering on the guy who took his job and hoping for one more chance to lead the Crimson Tide. He got his chance in the 2018 SEC Championship Game against Georgia — ironically the same team the Tide faced when he lost his job to Tua Tagovailoa. Hurts didn’t disappoint. He threw a touchdown pass and ran for another with just over a minute to go to rally No. 1 Alabama to a 35-28 victory over No. 4 Georgia — a stunning twist on the scenario that played out less than 11 months earlier on the very same field.
5. “That’s the 1 thing you didn’t want to do…”
The 2012 SEC Championship Game was an epic, as Alabama and Georgia battled to the wire. Amari Cooper caught a 44-yard touchdown pass from AJ McCarron with 3:15 to play, giving the Tide a 32-28 lead. But Aaron Murray navigated the Bulldogs down to the Tide 8 with 15 seconds to play. Murray threw a pass into the right flat that was tipped by C.J. Mosley and caught inbounds by diving Georgia WR Chris Conley at the 5. Clock ticking and without any timeouts, the Bulldogs could only watch helplessly as the final few seconds ticked off to give Alabama its 27th SEC title.
4. “And finally a touchdown between these 2!”
Alabama and LSU played a pair of epic games in 2011, the 1st a 9-6 LSU overtime victory in Tuscaloosa. But a series of upsets landed the Crimson Tide back in the No. 2 ranking despite missing the SEC Championship Game — among the impetuses that resulted in the formation of the College Football Playoff. The rematch was also a defensive slugfest into the 4th quarter, with Alabama’s Jeremy Shelley kicking a bowl record-tying 5 field goals for a 15-0 lead. That was until Trent Richardson got the ball at the LSU 34 …
3. “Maybe Alabama doesn’t come back in the 2nd half?”
Notre Dame Brian Kelly didn’t mince words with Heather Cox at halftime of the 2012 BCS National Championship, as Alabama had just put up 28 unanswered points on the Fighting Irish. That beatdown led to a 42-14 Alabama victory over previously unbeaten Notre Dame and also introduced the world to Katherine Webb, quarterback AJ McCarron’s girlfriend, whom Brent Musberger gushed over during the 1st half.
2. “Look out, Kenyan Drake can fly!”
Those were the words of ESPN play-by-play man Chris Fowler, as Alabama’s Kenyan Drake hit the corner on a 4th-quarter Clemson kickoff — scampering 95 yards to stun the Tigers as part of a 45-40 victory and Alabama’s 16th national championship in 2015.
Drake’s play was among the best Pylon Cam highlights in history, and was among the top plays on a crazy night that earned Alabama its’ 1st national title in the CFP era.
The game, win or lose, was already going to define Alabama football for the next 2 seasons by the time it got to that point. Trailing Georgia in the CFP National Championship Game in Atlanta, Saban made the bold decision to replace starter Jalen Hurts with freshman Tua Tagovailoa at halftime. Tagovailoa and the Tide erased a 13-point deficit to force overtime. Once in OT, Alabama held the Bulldogs to a field goal. Tagovailoa scrambled and was sacked on 1st down for a 16-yard loss to the Georgia 41, setting up 2nd-and-26 — the greatest walk-off touchdown in program history.