Alabama Football: Tide’s Cotton Bowl history goes way back

Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports /
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Alabama Football
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Alabama Football did not return to the Cotton Bowl until 1954. The game is one of the most famous in Crimson Tide history. Red Drew’s Alabama team was thoroughly beaten by Rice, 28-6. What made the game famous was one play that included an illegal tackle and a referee awarded touchdown after the same play ended. Crimson Tide player, Tommy Lewis will forever be known for his exploding passion.

Two Alabama Football Legends

The next Cotton Bowl trip for the Tide was in 1968. It was another Crimson Tide loss, 20-16 to the Texas A&M Aggies. It might have been the one game in Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant’s career when a loss was as satisfying as a win. Bryant had coached at A&M before returning to Tuscaloosa. One of his Aggies was Gene Stallings. Stallings was the A&M coach in 1968. After Stallings’ team upset the No. 8 ranked Crimson Tide, Bryant, with a huge grin on his face, picked up Stallings in a midfield celebration.

Another loss came in 1973 to another Texas team. That time it was the Longhorns. The game was a battle of wishbone offenses. Texas coach, Darrell Royal and Bryant were longtime friends. Texas adopted the wishbone before the Crimson Tide and Royal and his staff (including the coach credited with its invention, Emory Bellard) taught Bryant, and subsequently the Tide staff the offense.

The offensive change, and its surprise unveiling in Los Angeles, yielded a major upset of USC at the start of the 1971 season. The ‘Bone’ was good to Bryant and the Tide, leading to three National Championships in the 1970s.

Though the Tide entered the 1973 Cotton Bowl ranked No. 4, the No. 7 ranked Longhorns pulled off the upset.