Alabama Football: No program in the nation has done what Nick Saban’s Tide has done in this century’s AP Polls.
In a society often focused on ‘what have you done for me lately’ the consistency of Alabama football stands out. Crimson Tide fans have had National Championship expectations dashed the last two seasons. Coming up short most recently should not cloud what the Crimson Tide has done under Nick Saban.
As impressive as five National Championship in the last 11 seasons is the Tide’s consistency of excellence. Such college football consistency has long been measured by maintaining a position in the AP Poll.
Alabama football is on a run of 201 consecutive weeks in the AP Top 25. Only seven other college football programs have active streaks greater than 10 weeks. All of them are in the double-digits. Closest to the Crimson Tide is Clemson at 90 weeks, followed by Georgia at 54 and Notre Dame at 50 weeks. LSU is next at 43 weeks; Florida is at 33 and Auburn at 22 weeks. The Cincinnati Bearcats are the only other double-digit program at 16 weeks.
The Alabama football domination traces back to Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide has been in the Top 25 every week since the preseason poll of the 2008 season. Perhaps, even more, astounding the Crimson Tide has not been out of the Top 10 since the fourth week of the 2008 season. Eight of the last 11 seasons, the Crimson Tide has finished inside the Top 5.
Going back to the start of the Poll Era, Nebraska is No. 1 with 348 consecutive weeks from 1981-2002. The Crimson Tide is No. 4 on the all-time list. Florida with 209 weeks from 1990-2002 and Florida State with 211 weeks from 1989-2001 lead the Tide’s 201.
To give these numbers more historical perspective, Paul ‘Bear” Bryant got the Crimson Tide to No. 10 in the AP Poll at the end of his first season in 1959. In his 25-season Tide career, his teams dropped out of the Top 25 in only two seasons after that, until doing so again in Bryant’s last season in 1982.
From Bryant’s 1959 team and Saban’s 2019 team is a span of 62 Alabama football seasons. In 14 of those 62 seasons, the Crimson Tide finished unranked in the AP Poll. Five of the unranked seasons were in the 45 seasons coached by Bryant, Gene Stallings and Saban. The other 9 unranked seasons occurred during a combined 17 seasons of coaching by Ray Perkins, Bill Curry, Mike Dubose, Dennis Franchione and Mike Shula. Dubose and Shula had the most with three each.
Thanks to Dubose, Franchione and Shula the Crimson Tide is No. 6 in Total AP Poll appearances this century. The Tide has 237 weekly appearances. Oklahoma has 311 weekly appearances, Ohio State 304, LSU 293, Georgia 263 and Florida 259. Nick Saban is responsible for quite a few of LSU’s weeks.
Never let it be said head coaches are not the most important component in the success of college football programs.
The current Crimson Tide active, weekly AP Poll inclusion will not end until Nick Saban retires. Most Alabama football fans believe that is years away.