You want Alabama? Be prepared to pull off some big-time voodoo luck
More than once, your humble scribe has been covering college football games when the home fans jubilantly toted pieces of goalpost out of the stadium and into the town. And every time your humble scribe sees fans swarm the field in an attempt to snag a piece of yellow-painted steel out of the ground, it occurred to us that this is the ultimate compliment.
After all, you don’t tear down goalposts when you’re the favorite. You don’t tear down goalposts when you’re supposed to win. And when the home team’s fans rip down their own goalposts in glee, it is a tacit acknowledgment that the visiting team was pretty darn good.
Not coincidentally, the goalposts at Bryant-Denny Stadium are the most secure set of goalposts in college football. Other than being relentlessly doinked upon by Crimson Tide kickers in recent years, there hasn’t been an Alabama fan even close to getting on top of those bad boys hoping to tear them down and carry a piece across University Boulevard toward the Deke House.
Boiling all that down, here is the thesis: It is pretty darn difficult to beat Nick Saban. Heck, unless you’re wearing Auburn’s home kit and (allegedly) have SEC officials on the payroll, it is practically impossible. But it does happen.
So because y’all are just a little too big for your britches this preseason thinking Alabama will maraud through its schedule like the 1972 Dolphins, here are the 5 flukiest losses Saban has ever suffered:
Before 2012, Texas A&M was known mostly to Alabama fans as the place Paul W. Bryant honed his craft and darn near killed his team at Junction before Mama called. But in 2012, a certain John W. Football and his Aggies had a date with No. 1 Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Nov. 10, 2012 was supposed to be another bright, shiny day in Tuscaloosa. The defending national champion had won 13 consecutive games heading into the game.
But they never saw Johnny Manziel coming.
Johnny Football and Texas A&M were unbelievable that day. Manziel passed for 253 yards and rushed for 92, confounding the Tide defense with his ability to keep plays alive as the Aggies scored the game’s first 20 points.
Including this …
4. More money
Hugh Freeze will go down in history as a rather unsavory presence in both the Southeastern Conference and at Ole Miss. But in 2014, Freeze could have run for mayor of Oxford, chancellor of The Grove and czar of Rebeland for life after dispatching Alabama 23-17.
ESPN’s GameDay was there. Katy Perry was there. By the end of the deal, Vaught-Hemingway Stadium’s goalposts weren’t there.
Freeze and the Rebels pulled off some wacko magic to go to 5-0 for the first time since the Kennedy administration. How else can you explain missing 2 extra points and somehow not getting “Bad” Bo Wallace for 60 consecutive minutes in the same game?
3. Even more money
Dusty Springfield’s dulcet tones delivering “Son Of A Preacher Man” was bad enough. When Cameron Jerrell Newton and his Auburn Tigers entered Bryant-Denny Stadium to take on the defending national champs in 2010, the stadium’s PA crew cued up the 1970s hit as a warped tribute.
That was a clean shot. But when Steve Miller Band came next with “Take The Money And Run,” well, we really should have seen it coming.
Newton was a menace to the Tide all day. Alabama leapt out to a 24-point lead, but the eventual Heisman Trophy winner/alleged illegal recruit engineered a CamBack for all time.
Alabama fans probably have blocked much of the mid-2000s out of their memories, what with the NCAA and the Three Mikes — Mike DuBose, Mike Price and Mike Shula. But before this absolute dominance the Crimson Tide, Alabama scheduled Louisiana-Monroe for a home game in 2007.
This was a paycheck game, as many home nonconference games are. Because even with a team as lackluster as Alabama was in Saban’s 1st season, the Tide should still wipe the floor with Louisiana-Monroe.
Unfortunately, no one told Louisiana-Monroe that. The Warhawks de-pantsed Alabama at home that day, winning 21-14. ULM entered Tuscaloosa on Nov. 17, 2007, with a 4-6 record. The Warhawks were 1 of only 2 teams to lose to North Texas that season, and ULM had previously lost by 23 points to Clemson and 40 points to Texas A&M.
This game was the impetus Saban needed to blow up the program he had just inherited, to run off the soft players he kept from Shula and to dramatically begin a run of dominance never seen before.
1. Chris Davis
We refuse to call this moment by its given name, as Verne Lundquist and the Auburn media relations staff has done a good enough job of tagging this deal.
The final 0:01 of the 2017 Alabama-Auburn game was insanity. Blake Griffith, bless him, was trotted on to attempt a 57-yard field goal attempt in a tie game at Jordan-Hare Stadium. He was Alabama’s 2nd kicker of the day, as Cade Foster had blown 3 attempts already that day to earn a seat on the sideline.
Chris Davis stood with his heels inches off the end line underneath the goalpost, the stenciled letters spelling “TIGERS” in big white paint and 109 yards of green grass in front of him.
Griffin’s attempt fell just short. Davis hauled it in and headed left toward the Auburn bench.
And then we blacked out. Hit our head. Don’t remember a thing.