Alabama Football: Sometimes biggest plays are less remembered

(Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images) /

Many Alabama football players know something about fame from first-hand experience. Even if glory fades with time, a revered status is to be treasured.

Former Crimson Tide wide receiver, Greg Richardson is a good example. Every Alabama football fan born before the late 1970s and most born later knows about ‘The Kick’ in the 1985 Iron Bowl. About three years ago we published an All-Saban Team made up of Crimson Tide players from then, Nick Saban’s 12 Alabama football seasons. Chosen as the No. 1 placekicker was Leigh Tiffin. An updated All-Saban team might have Will Reichard as the kicker instead of Tiffin. Either way, neither one is the Crimson Tide’s most famous field-goal kicker.

That distinction goes to Leigh’s dad, Van Tiffin. In the closing seconds of the 1985 Iron Bowl, Van Tiffin kicked a 52-yarder to erase a one-point Tide deficit and win the game. The kick was dead center of the uprights and against a slight breeze, it was hit so true, it would have been good from 62 yards out.

Without Greg Richardson’s heroics a play earlier, ‘The Kick’ would have never been taken. The Crimson Tide was out of timeouts when Richardson caught a Mike Shula pass and was immediately grabbed from behind by an Auburn tackler. Richardson was three strides from the sideline, but at just 5’7″ and 172lbs, he managed to drag the Auburn defender far enough to get out of bounds and stop the clock.

Richardson’s heroics are known to all those who saw the game, but for those who came later, the 1985 Iron Bowl is all about Van Tiffin’s kick.

There is a similar situation from the 2017 National Championship game. Georgia led 13-0 at halftime, prompting Nick Saban to replace Jalen Hurts with Tagovailoa. In the first series with Tua at QB, the Tide went three-and-out. After the teams exchanged punts, Alabama faced a 3rd-and-7. Tua picked up the first down on a nine-yard run. Four pass attempts and four completions later, Alabama scored its first touchdown of the National Championship game.

Georgia scored on its next possession, pushing its lead to 20-7. On the next Tide possession, Tua threw an incompletion and an interception. He rushed to the sideline to assure Nick Saban he would not make the same mistake again.

Saban stuck with Tua. The sophomore QB and the 2017 Alabama Crimson Tide made history with the eventual 26-23 win in overtime.

Alabama Football National Championship History might have been different

Would Nick Saban have stuck with Tua had the third-quarter, 9-yard run not yielded a first down, followed by a touchdown? After what could have been two, back-to-back, three-and-outs, and an interception, Saban might have benched Tua for Jalen Hurts.

Note: Game details provided by

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One play – and not always the biggest play – or the most remembered play, can change a program’s history. It happened in the 1985 Iron Bowl and in the 2017 National Championship game.