Alabama Football offseasons can be about more than recruiting and sizing up the opposition for a coming season. They can also provide the breathing room to step back and reflect on the big picture of college football. Every Crimson Tide fan knows the Alabama Crimson Tide is the greatest college football program of all time.
Most, but not all, of the credit for that distinction goes to the two greatest college football coaches of all time. It can be argued Knute Rockne and Frank Leahy were a pair that came close, but the Tide’s National Championships under Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant and Nick Saban set it apart.
Alabama Football owns so many records, a list would be too long for a single post. But there is one record not yet held by Alabama Football that needs to be attained. The record is the most all-time wins by a ‘major’ college football program.
Counting the wins is far from simple and that has led to different sets of numbers being published. When to start counting wins can be debated. Princeton and Rutgers played something in 1869, but it was not college football.
Even highly credible sites like sports-reference.com provide some confusing first-season dates for some teams. According to the site, season one for Alabama Football (long before it became the Crimson Tide) was in 1902. Alabama began play in 1892 and won 15 games before the 1902 season.
The NCAA provides some clarity with its record-keeping. According to this .pdf, through the 2020 season, Alabama Football has competed for 126 seasons (127, after the 2021 season). Using the NCAA’s numbers, plus 2021 wins and adding the 29 games won on the field, but later forfeited or vacated, the Alabama program has won 971 games in those 127 seasons.
Currently, the winningest team is the Michigan Wolverines with 976 wins over 142 seasons.
The point of this exercise in college football history is to make the claim Alabama needs to surpass Michigan while Nick Saban is still the Tide head coach. Unless the two teams meet in a post-season contest, schedules do not provide a head-to-head matchup until 2027 or later.
Instead, the Crimson Tide and Michigan just need to repeat their last five full seasons of performance and the Crimson Tide will become No.1 in wins in the 2024 season. Over the Tide’s last five seasons it has averaged 12-plus wins. Michigan, over its last five seasons (not including 2020 when the Big Ten played a reduced schedule), has won just under 10 games per season. Past results do not guarantee future performance but give Nick Saban (at least) five more seasons, and even a sub-par Tide is a lock to become, as it should be, the winningest college football program of all time.
Finding room in a near-future schedule, to beat Michigan while Jim Harbaugh is still the coach, would be an added sweetener.