In some of the closest voting yet, old school defeated new school and Bobby Humphrey advanced to the second round of our tournament to crown the greatest Alabama Crimson Tide football player in history.
Today’s matchup has two legends from the heyday of the Bryant era squaring off against each other, and you must decide who advances. Your vote does count; so get it in before our poll closes Saturday morning.
Stallings Division – D. Line vs. O. Line
Marty Lyons (1976-1978)
Defensive Tackle – St. Petersburg, Fla.
6’6”, 250 lbs
Career Statistics: 202 tackles (23 for loss), 6 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries
A two-time All-SEC selection and a consensus All-American in 1978, Marty Lyons is probably best remembered for his role in “The Goal Line Stand” in the 1979 Sugar Bowl against Penn State. Following the 3rd and goal on that series in which the Nittany Lions were stopped short, Penn State quarterback Chuck Fusina asked Lyons how far the ball was from the goal line.
“Bout a foot,” replied Lyons, “You better pass.” The Crimson Tide held on to win 14-7, capturing the 10th national championship in program history.
Lyons’ career shouldn’t be defined by only a couple of plays, however. In addition to the 1978 national championship win, Lyons won SEC titles in 1977 and 1978, and finished with a career record of 31-5 during his three seasons with the Tide.
He saved his best season for last, recording 119 tackles (15 for loss) along with 4 forced fumbles and one fumble recovery during his senior year in 1978. His 119 tackles that year places him tied for 5th in team history for most tackles in a single season. The only players that rank above him on that list were all linebackers.
In 2011, Lyons was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the Alabama 1970s All-Decade Team as well as the Tide’s Team of the Century.
Sylvester Croom (1972-1974)
Center – Tuscaloosa, Ala.
6’0”, 229 lbs
Sylvester Croom played three seasons for the Crimson Tide, finishing every season with at least 10 wins and an SEC title. In those three years, Croom played in the Cotton, Sugar and Orange bowls. He ended his playing career with a record of 32-4 and the 1973 national championship.
In that championship season in 1973, Croom was a starter on the offensive line in one of Alabama’s best offensive seasons ever, particularly through the running game. That year the Tide had their greatest statistical season ever running the football. They hold rushing records for most yards gained (4,027); most yards gained per game (366.1); highest average per rush (6.06); and most touchdowns rushing (43).
As an offense, they hold records for average yards per play (6.98); average yards per game (480.7); yards per pass attempt (13.4); and points scored (477). They are second in team history in points per game (39.8); rushing touchdowns (43); and offensive touchdowns (55).
Croom had his best season, however, in 1974 when he was named All-SEC and an All-American. He also won the Jacobs Trophy that year as the best blocker in the SEC. Today, the Alabama football program gives out an annual team award — the Sylvester Croom Commitment to Excellence Award — in his honor.
Which player advances to the next round?
- Sylvester Croom (22%, 12 Votes)
- Marty Lyons (78%, 45 Votes)
Total Voters: 55