Looking back at the Nick Saban Alabama Football Era

Before total focus is turned to the 2024 season, a respite from summer doldrums is provided by a look back at the Nick Saban Era.
John Reed-USA TODAY Sports
John Reed-USA TODAY Sports / John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

There will be a point when it is time to give full attention to the 2024 Alabama Football season. Until then June will drag by as we count down Saturdays until another Crimson Tide season.

For college football fans, June can be fairly described as 'The Doldrums'. Meanings of the word doldrums include sadness and despondence. While we may be sad about Nick Saban's retirement, those meanings do not fit this June. 'The Doldrums' is also an old nautical term applied to an equatorial belt that becalms sailing vessels. Boats would be described as stuck on windless waters.

In June, movement toward the next college football season may feel like being stuck in a long wait. But the June interval provides a good time to look back at the Nick Saban, Alabama Football Era. The era could be described with one word - glorious. To be fully relished requires more.

This month, I will offer a series of posts to recount the glory of the Saban years. The starting place will be Alabama Football before Nick Saban. Below I look back at the state of the Alabama Crimson Tide program in the early 2000s, giving the most attention to the 2006 season.

Between Gene Stallings' last season in 1996 and Saban's first in 2007, the Alabama football program suffered. Another one-word description applies to seven of those 10 seasons. The word is dreadful. For elaboration, during the 10 seasons, college football's greatest program of all time won a paltry 54.9% of its games.

It is ironic that the Crimson Tide's three failed coaches during the 10 years; Mike Dubose, Dennis Franchione and Mike Shula, each had a team that won 10 games. That fact further emphasizes how bad Alabama was in the other seven seasons.

It is accurate to state the Alabama football program was in disarray when Mike Price was hired to rebuild it. The debacle that followed in the 2004 season was the product of program erosion and the abrupt, but necessary firing of Price. Mike Shula was called upon, and to his credit, he willingly stepped into the worst situation since Paul 'Bear' Bryant followed Ears Whitworth in 1958. Shula's run was almost destined to fail.

When Nick Saban took over the program in January 2007, he inherited a team short on talent and mostly clueless about the intense grind necessary to build championship success. What smart football people knew then, and everyone knows now is that Saban was the perfect coach for the task at hand.

Coming Soon: Nick Saban and Alabama Football slogging through the 2007 season

Note: Team records provided by Sports Reference