Alabama to Open Season Against Kent State
Aug. 29, 2011
HEAD COACH Nick Saban: Alabama head coach Nick Saban (Kent State, 1973) begins his fifth season with the Crimson Tide. Named the school’s 27th head coach on Jan. 3, 2007, Saban has compiled a 38-11 record (43-11 before five vacated wins in 2007) at Alabama while leading the Tide to two SEC Western Division championships, one conference title and one national championship. Saban holds a career record of 129-53-1 (134-53-1) as a collegiate head coach, while also serving at Toledo, Michigan State and LSU. Saban won his first national championship as head coach of the LSU Tigers in 2003, guiding the Tigers to a 13-1 record that season. Overall, Saban has coached four conference championship teams (1990 Mid-American, 2001 SEC, 2003 SEC and 2009 SEC) and 11 of his 14 teams have played in postseason bowl games with the Tide appearing in a bowl game each year under Saban’s direction. Saban is also the only active coach to win two BCS National Championships and the first to accomplish the feat at two different schools.
PRESEASON RANKINGS: Alabama opens the 2011 season ranked second in the Associated Press and USA TODAY Coaches’ preseason polls.
KENT STATE: Kent State is coming off a 5-7 season with a 4-4 mark in Mid-American Conference play. The Flashes are 0-9 all-time against Southeastern Conference opponents, with all games being played on the road. Two of Kent State’s nine games versus SEC foes have come in season openers, where the Flashes suffered a 35-0 loss at Kentucky on Sept. 4, 1993, and a 56-3 defeat at Georgia on Sept. 5, 1998. Kent State last played an SEC opponent on Sept. 8, 2007, falling 56-20 to the Wildcats at Lexington, Ky. Alabama is 4-1 all-time versus MAC institutions, having previously faced Bowling Green (21-7 win in 1996), Northern Illinois (19-16 loss in 2003) and Temple (24-14 win in 1986, 37-0 win in 1987 and 41-3 win in 1991).
NEXT GAME: Alabama will travel to State College, Pa., to take on the Penn State Nittany Lions on Saturday, Sept. 10, at Beaver Stadium. It will mark the 15th meeting between the two traditional rivals and the 14th time that legendary PSU head coach Joe Paterno will have faced the Crimson Tide. Alabama leads the overall series 9-5, including a slight 3-2 edge over Penn State in State College. This will be the Tide’s first appearance in Beaver Stadium since the 1989 season, when Alabama earned a 17-16 victory. Kickoff for the game is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. (CDT) on ABC.
ALABAMA DEGREES: Alabama’s success on the field over the past three seasons under the direction of head coach Nick Saban has also coincided with the Crimson Tide’s success in the classroom. The 2011 Crimson Tide begins the season with 11 players that already have degrees in hand, including Hardie Buck (Aug. 2011), Josh Chapman (May 2011), Nick Gentry (Dec. 2010), Brandon Gibson (Dec. 2010), Barrett Jones (Aug. 2011), Phelon Jones (May 2011), Alfred McCullough (May 2011), Morgan Ogilvie (Aug. 2011), Chris Underwood (May 2011), William Vlachos (May 2011) and Alex Watkins (Dec. 2010). Over the past four seasons (2008-11) the Crimson Tide has seen 42 players compete for the Crimson Tide after having already graduated.
PRESEASON ALL-AMERICANS: The Crimson Tide has had eight players earn preseason All-America accolades from various publications leading up to the start of the 2011 campaign. The list includes Mark Barron, Dont’a Hightower, Barrett Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick, Robert Lester, Trent Richardson, Courtney Upshaw and William Vlachos. Barron was a first-team selection by Phil Steele, Athlon Sports, Lindy’s, Sporting News and Playboy, while Hightower earned first-team honors from Lindy’s, second-team recognition from Phil Steele and third-team distinction from Athlon Sports. Jones was a first-team choice from Phil Steele, Athlon Sports, Lindy’s and Sporting News. Kirkpatrick joined Hightower on the Athlon Sports Third-Team, while Lester made his way to the second team of Phil Steele and Lindy’s. Richardson was a first-team pick on Phil Steele and Playboy and a second-team choice by Athlon Sports, Lindy’s and Sporting News. Upshaw was named to Phil Steele’s Third-Team list as was Vlachos, who also earned third-team recognition from Athlon Sports.
TOUGH SLATE: Alabama will have one of the most difficult schedules in the nation with six games against teams ranked in the USA TODAY Coaches’ Poll top 25. The Tide will face No. 25 Penn State on Sept. 10 and host No. 14 Arkansas on Sept. 24. Alabama is also slated to take on No. 23 Florida (Oct. 1), No. 4 LSU (Nov. 5), No. 20 Mississippi State (Nov. 12) and No. 19 Auburn (Nov. 26).
NFL DRAFT: The Crimson Tide saw five UA players selected in the 2011 NFL Draft, including first-round picks Marcell Dareus (third overall to the Buffalo Bills), Julio Jones (sixth overall to the Atlanta Falcons), James Carpenter (25th overall to the Seattle Seahawks) and Mark Ingram (28th overall to the New Orleans Saints). Greg McElroy rounded out the Alabama draft picks by being selected in the seventh round (208th overall) by the New York Jets.
RETURNING SUCCESS: Alabama returns 19 starters and 51 lettermen from its 2010 squad that went 10-3, finishing the season ranked 10th in the Associated Press poll and 11th in the USA TODAY Coaches’ poll. Much of last year’s preseason talk was about the Tide’s offense, whereas this year it has been much about the defense. Highlighting the list of returnees in the defensive backfield is senior All-American Mark Barron and junior All-American Robert Lester. Barron was the team’s leader in total tackles with 75, while Lester led Alabama in interceptions with eight. Among the Tide’s returnees up front is senior Courtney Upshaw and junior Dont’a Hightower, who combined for 121 total tackles, 18 tackles for loss, seven sacks and five pass breakups. Upshaw was first on the team in tackles for loss with 14.5 and ranked fifth in the SEC with his seven sacks. As a unit, Alabama’s defense finished the 2010 season ranked third nationally in scoring defense (13.54 ppg), fifth in total defense (286.38) and sixth in pass efficiency defense (103.54).
NICK’S KIDS: At Michigan State, head coach Nick Saban and his wife, Terry, started the Nick’s Kids Foundation, which the Sabans have continued in Tuscaloosa. Since their arrival at the University of Alabama, the Sabans have helped raise more than $2 million for “Nick’s Kids” that has been distributed to more than 150 charities and organizations throughout the state of Alabama.
TIDE PLAYERS EARN EARLY ACCOLADES: Twelve Alabama players have been named to 14 different preseason awards watch lists heading into the 2011 season. The players have been recognized before the start of the 2011 season as potentially the top players at their position nationally. Trent Richardson leads the way for the Tide appearing on five of the 14 lists, while Dont’a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw were named to four of the lists. Mark Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick, Robert Lester, Marquis Maze and William Vlachos appeared on three difference lists, and Darius Hanks and Barrett Jones on two. Rounding out the preseason watch nods were Nico Johnson and Michael Williams, making one list apiece. Barron, Hightower, Kirkpatrick and Upshaw are all on the watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award (best defensive player) and are joined by Lester on the Bronko Nagurski Award (defensive player of the year) list. Richardson has been named to many of the overall player and running back award watch list that have been announced, including the Doak Walker Award (best running back), the Maxwell Award (most outstanding player) and the Walter Camp Award (player of the year). Lester also appears on the Walter Camp Award list with Richardson. For a complete listing of the preseason watch lists, refer to the chart on page 4.
TWO TIDE PLAYERS NAMED PLAYBOY ALL-AMERICANS: Alabama landed two players on the 2011 Playboy Magazine annual preseason College Football All-America Team. Mark Barron was selected at safety and Trent Richardson at running back. Alabama has had eight Playboy All-Americans in the last four years after Andre Smith was chosen in 2008, Rolando McClain and Javier Arenas were selected in 2009 and Julio Jones and Mark Ingram in 2010.
ALABAMA HAS RECORD NUMBER OF PRESEASON ALL-SEC SELECTIONS: The Tide placed a total of 16 players on the Preseason All-SEC team, which is the most in any year in the league. In addition, Alabama’s nine first-team selections is the highest for any team in a single season beating out the previous high of eight that was set by Alabama in 2010 and Florida in 2009.
NEW QUARTERBACKS MAKING STARTS IN THE FBS: Alabama is one of 22 FBS schools that will have a quarterback making his first start during the 2011 season. In addition to Alabama, two other SEC programs will place a newcomer at the QB position including Auburn and Mississippi.
FBS Schools With Quarterbacks Making Their First Start
North Carolina State
San Jose State
TRUE FRESHMEN START SEASON OPENER: Alabama has had 13 true freshmen start season opening games since freshmen regained their eligibility from the NCAA in 1973. A pair of true freshmen started the season opener in 2007, 2008 and 2010. Specialists Cade Foster (place-kicker) and Cody Mandell (punter) notched their first career start last season against San Jose State. In 2007, Rolando McClain (LB) and Kareem Jackson (CB) started against Western Carolina while both Dont’a Hightower (LB) and Julio Jones (WR) got the nod against Clemson in 2008. The 2007 season marked the fifth time in school history UA has started two true freshmen in a season opener. Alabama has started at least one true freshman in the season opener in five of the last six seasons as left tackle Andre Smith started his first game at Alabama in the 2006 season opener against Hawai’i.
FRESHMAN ACADEMICS: Alabama’s 2010 freshman class did more than just excel on the football field, the Crimson Tide placed 11 rookies on the 2011 SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll, by far the highest total in the SEC - more than double the second-place team. Mississippi State was second with five, while Auburn, Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee each had four. Florida and Georgia placed three representatives on the list apiece, and Arkansas, LSU and Vanderbilt all had two members of the honor roll, respectively. Mississippi rounded out the list with one. Alabama freshmen that made the list include: Cade Foster, Jalston Fowler, Corey Grant, Adrian Hubbard, Harrison Jones, Arie Kouandjio, C.J. Mosley, Nick Perry, Brian Vogler, DeAndrew White and Jay Williams. The 2009 freshman class was equally impressive placing 12 on the list, which again was more than double the next-highest SEC institution.
SABAN AMONG THE BEST: Head coach Nick Saban’s arrival in Tuscaloosa led to the Crimson Tide’s rapid rise up the national rankings. That success in such a short period of time impacted the Tide’s record book. Saban produced the largest win increase from year one to year two in school history as Alabama went from seven wins in 2007 to 12 wins in 2008. He is one of two coaches (with Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops) in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) to have coached 10 years and never suffered through a losing season. Saban achieved more firsts in 2009 with back-to-back 10-win seasons and his first undefeated campaign. He followed that up with another 10-win season in 2011. Saban ranks sixth in winning percentage (70.8 percent) among active coaches who have coached at least 10 years of FBS football. He is also the only active coach, and one of only two coaches (with former Florida head coach Urban Meyer) to win two BCS National Championships and the first to accomplish the feat at two different schools.
BEATING THE BEST: Alabama is 14-5 against the Associated Press Top 25 over the past three seasons and 9-3 against AP top 10 teams. UA had reeled off nine straight wins against top 25 teams until the loss at South Carolina. The Crimson Tide’s 31-6 win over No. 7 Florida on October 2, was the Tide’s second straight win over a top 10 team and third top 25 victory in a four-week span. Alabama went 5-3 against the AP Top 25 last season.
ALABAMA HAS SECOND MOST WINS SINCE 2008: Alabama has won 36 games dating back to the start of the 2008 season, which is tied for the second most in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The Crimson Tide won 12 games in 2008, followed that with a perfect 14-0 record in 2009 and a 10-3 mark in 2010. Alabama is two wins back of Boise State, with 38 wins, and tied with TCU at 36 victories. The Crimson Tide has the most victories of any team that plays in a BCS conference.
FIRST-TIME STARTERS: A total of 23 Alabama players made their first collegiate starts in 2010 – 18 positional starters and five specialists. Five first-time starters were on offense: LG Chance Warmack, RT D.J. Fluker, RB Trent Richardson, RT Alfred McCullough and RG Anthony Steen and 13 first-time starters on defense: DE Damion Square, DE Luther Davis, NG Kerry Murphy, LB C.J. Mosley, Sam LB Chavis Williams, Will LB Jerrell Harris, Jack LB Ed Stinson, CB Dre Kirkpatrick, CB DeQuan Menzie, CB Dee Milliner, FS Robert Lester, CB Phelon Jones and DB Will Lowery. Five more made starting debuts on special teams: SN Carson Tinker, PK Cade Foster, P Cody Mandell and PK Jeremy Shelley. Of the 20 new starters in 2010, four were true freshmen (PK Foster, P Mandell, CB Milliner, LB Mosley).
A BALANCED ATTACK: Alabama returned to the nation’s elite in 2008 with a punishing ground attack that wore down defenses and took shots down the field. In 2009, the Tide brought more balance to the table on offense. In 2010 Alabama again had excellent balance as the Crimson Tide accounted for a school-record 5,773 yards of total offense (22nd nationally at 444.08 ypg), including 3,395 yards (58.8 percent) in the air and 2,378 (41.2 percent) on the ground. The Tide threw 362 total passes (43.7 percent) - completing 253 (69.9 percent) - while running the ball 467 times (56.3 percent).
100-YARD RUSHERS AND RECEIVERS: Twenty-six times in 25 different games Alabama has had rushers exceed 100 yards and the Tide has had 13 100-yard receivers in 13 games since head coach Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa. Former running back Mark Ingram recorded 12 100-yard rushing games during his career, while junior Trent Richardson has four 100-yard rushing efforts and sophomore Eddie Lacy has produced one. Under Saban, Alabama has gone 25-1 in those 26 games that produced a 100-yard rusher. Trent Richardson (1) is the only current player with a 100-yard receiving game. The Tennessee game on Oct. 23, 2010, marked the sixth time under Saban that Alabama has had a 100-yard rusher and receiver in the same game.
GROUND DEFENSE: Keeping the opposing running back under 100 yards is nothing new for the Crimson Tide. Alabama has surrendered just nine individual 100-yard rushing games dating back to the 2005 season (74 games), a mark that ranks second nationally behind Boston College (8). Since head coach Nick Saban arrived in 2007 (54 games), Alabama has allowed four players to rush for 100 yards in a game: Tennessee’s Tauren Poole (117 yards), Mississippi’s BenJarvus Green-Ellis (131 yards), Houston’s Anthony Alridge (100 yards) and Arkansas’ Darren McFadden (195 yards).
TOUGH SLEDDING ON THE GROUND: Alabama has surrendered the second-fewest rushing touchdowns in the nation since the start of the 2005 season, giving up only 47. Ohio State leads the nation allowing 46 during that time span. Since head coach Nick Saban arrived in 2007, the Crimson Tide has given up 29 rushing touchdowns while OSU has allowed 26. In 2010, Alabama surrendered just six rushing touchdowns in 13 games.
FORCING TURNOVERS: Alabama’s ability to produce turnovers in recent years has fueled the Crimson Tide’s success. The Crimson Tide was very productive at causing turnovers in 2010 with 26 forced and only 14 giveaways (plus-12) in 13 games. In addition 6.0 percent of passes thrown against Alabama in 2010 were picked off, which is the highest in the FBS. The Tide intercepted 22 passes, which was fourth nationally, while recovering four fumbles for a +.92 turnover margin that ranked 11th nationally and first in the SEC. Alabama has forced 106 turnovers in 54 games under head coach Nick Saban (an average of 1.96 per game), while forcing 57 turnovers over the last 27 games (2.11 per game). The Tide finished the 2009 season ranked fourth nationally in turnover margin at plus-19 (1.36 per game). The UA offense only turned the ball over 12 times (5 interceptions, 7 fumbles) in 2009. Alabama forced 24 turnovers in 2007 for a plus-4 turnover ratio and then recorded 25 turnovers and ended the season with a plus-6 turnover margin in 2008. Alabama has recorded at least one turnover in 48 of 54 games under Saban. UA is 40-8 under Saban when gaining at least one turnover. Alabama is 3-3 in games without gaining a turnover over the last four seasons.
DEFENSE TOUGH ON THIRD DOWN: Third down defense has been crucial for Alabama over the past three seasons. The Crimson Tide was strong once again in 2010, allowing just 65 third down conversions in 191 attempts (34.03 percent) to rank 12th nationally. The Crimson Tide defense was strong on third down in 2009, ranking sixth nationally and allowing a 29.90 conversion rate (58 for 194). The Crimson Tide finished third nationally in third down conversion defense in 2008, holding opponents to a 28.14 percent (56 of 199) conversion rate.
RETURNING CAPTAINS: Senior safety Mark Barron and junior linebacker Dont’a Hightower are the third set of captains to return to the position for a second season since Alabama first began naming multiple team captains in 1956. In 2002, both Jarret Johnson and Tyler Watts were second-year leaders, while Antoine Caldwell and Rashad Johnson repeated in 2008.
HIGHTOWER RETURNS: Junior linebacker Dont’a Hightower returns for his fourth season at the Capstone as the man in the middle of Alabama’s complex defensive scheme. Hightower received a medical redshirt for the 2009 season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the fourth game of the season against Arkansas. An amazingly quick recovery returned him to the practice field with full contact during spring drills. Hightower split time between the Mike and Will linebacker spots in 2010 while also seeing time with his hand in the dirt on passing downs to take advantage of his pass-rushing skills. The Lewisburg, Tenn., native has 149 career tackles with 10.0 tackles for loss and 17 quarterback hurries. Hightower finished second on the team in 2010 with 69 tackles, three pass breakups and nine quarterback hurries in 2010.
BARRON RETURNS: Senior safety Mark Barron is one of the most prominent safeties in the nation. The Mobile, Ala., native is a two-time first-team All-SEC player while garnering third-team All-America honors in 2009 and first-team All-America recognition in 2010. He has 169 career tackles and has ranked second and first, respectively, among Crimson Tide players in total stops the past two seasons. Barron has 24 pass breakups over the past two seasons and 10 interceptions. In 2010, Barron was the leader of the Tide secondary. He finished as the Tide’s top tackler 75 stops while missing the bowl game with a torn pectoral muscle. He also recorded three interceptions, two sacks (-15), 3.0 tackles for loss (-19), one forced fumble, two quarterback hurries and six pass breakups.
THREE AND OUT: Consistently forcing three-and-outs has been a trademark of Alabama’s defense. In 2009, on its way to a national championship, Alabama led the nation with an average of 5.61 three-and-outs per game. In 2010, the Tide was once again among the nation’s best, ranking 10th nationally, with an average of 4.07 three-and-outs per game or 53 three-and-outs in 13 games. TCU led the country in three-and-outs with 6.00 per game.
1. 6.00 TCU (78/13)
2. 5.69 Ohio State (74/13)
3. 5.08 Texas (61/12)
4. 4.93 Nebraska (69/14)
5. 4.92 Boise State (64/13)
6. 4.54 West Virginia (59/13)
7. 4.23 LSU (55/13)
8. 4.15 North Carolina St (54/13)
9. 4.08 Arizona State (49/12)
10. 4.07 Alabama (53/13)
32 NATIONAL TV GAMES IN LAST 41 GAMES: With the Capital One Bowl being broadcast on ESPN, it marked the 32nd nationally televised game since the start of the 2008 season for the Crimson Tide. In 2010, Alabama had five games on CBS, three games on ESPN, two games on ESPN2, one on ABC and one on ESPNU. In 2009, UA played two games on ABC, including the BCS National Championship Game, and six games on CBS while ESPN broadcast two more Crimson Tide games. In 2008, Alabama had 10 of its 14 games broadcast nationally, including five games on CBS, three games on ESPN, one on ABC and one on FOX.
TIDE 38-3 UNDER SABAN WHEN LEADING AT THE HALF: The Crimson Tide is 38-3 when leading at halftime under head coach Nick Saban. Alabama had a 28-game winning streak snapped in 2010 against LSU. The first two losses came against LSU with the last loss to Auburn in 2010. In 2007, UA held a 20-17 halftime lead before losing, 41-34, on Nov. 3, 2007, at Bryant-Denny Stadium. In 2010, UA led 10-3 at the half before the Tigers rallied for a 24-20 win at Tiger Stadium. The Tide lost 28-27 to Auburn to close out the 2010 season after leading 24-7 at the half. The Crimson Tide is 3-5 under Saban when trailing at halftime and 2-2 when tied at halftime. The three wins when trailing at the half came in a 34-24 win over No. 7 Virginia Tech on Sept. 5, 2009, in Atlanta; a 24-15 victory over No. 9 LSU on Nov. 7, 2009; and a 24-20 win at Arkansas on Sept. 25, 2010 . Alabama’s two wins when tied at halftime came at LSU on Nov. 8, 2008, (a 27-21 victory) and at Auburn with a 26-21 win on Nov. 27, 2009.
SEASON OPENERS: Alabama has compiled a 92-21-3 (.806) all-time record in season openers, and is in the midst of a nine-game winning streak. Dating back to the 1977 season, Alabama is 29-4 in its last 33 season openers and the Tide has posted a 17-2 opening day record since 1991. The 2011 season marks the 12th consecutive year the Tide has opened the season with a non-conference opponent.
COACH SABAN IN SEASON OPENERS: Coach Saban is 12-3 in his collegiate career in season openers, including a 4-0 mark at Alabama. He led Alabama to a 52-6 win over Western Carolina on Sept. 1, 2007, in his inaugural game with the Crimson Tide, a 34-10 win over Clemson in 2008 and a 34-24 victory over Virginia Tech in 2009 with both the 2008 and 2009 games being played at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Last season, Saban guided Alabama to a 48-3 win over San Jose State in the newly-expanded Bryant-Denny Stadium. Saban won his very first collegiate game on Sept. 8, 1990, as he led Toledo to a 20-14 win over Miami (Ohio). He was 3-2 in season openers at Michigan State and 4-1 in season openers at LSU.
SEASON OPENERS BY HEAD COACH: Coach Nick Saban currently stands at 4-0 in season openers at the Capstone. Coach Frank Thomas (1931-46) is the school’s most successful coach on opening day, compiling a 13-0-2 record in his 15 season openers with the Crimson Tide. Legendary coach Paul W. “Bear” Bryant (1958-82) is the school’s winningest coach, logging 18 opening day wins in his 25-year career. Bryant’s record in Alabama season openers was 18-6-1 (.740), including a six-game winning streak to close out his career.
SEASON OPENERS BY OPPONENT: The Crimson Tide will open with Kent State for the first time in school history. UA has opened the season with 57 different opening day opponents with the Crimson Tide’s most common opening day opponent being Howard (now Samford). Alabama has also played five current SEC teams on opening day, compiling a 14-8-1 (.630) record against Mississippi, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Florida and LSU. The Tide has not opened the season with an SEC opponent since a 28-17 win at Vanderbilt in 1999.
SEASON OPENERS BY SITE: Alabama has played its season opener in 18 different cities in its football history. The most common venue for an Alabama season opener is on the UA campus in Tuscaloosa, where the Tide has opened the season 51 times and compiled a 48-2-1 record. The Tide is 18-1-1 in season openers at Bryant-Denny Stadium (circa 1929). UA has opened the 2008 and 2009 seasons at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, with wins over Clemson (34-10) and Virginia Tech (34-24). The Tide has also opened the season 29 times in Birmingham and has posted a 24-4-1 record in those games.
ALABAMA VS. MAC: Alabama has compiled a 4-1 (.800) record against the current MAC field. Kent State marks the fourth MAC opponent Alabama has faced. The Tide’s last meeting with a MAC opponent came against 21st-ranked Northern Illinois on Sept. 20, 2003, which resulted in a 19-16 Alabama loss. The Tide has also faced Bowling Green (1-0) and Temple (3-0). The Crimson Tide has outscored its MAC opponents 139-43 in the five games played.
SABAN VS. MAC: In Saban’s 15 years of collegiate coaching, he has faced all but four MAC programs, one of which was Toledo when he coached there in 1990. His most recent contest versus a MAC opponent came on Sept. 14, 2002, while at LSU where the Tigers posted a 33-7 victory over Miami (Ohio).
SABAN TIES TO KENT STATE: Head Coach Nick Saban, along with his wife Terry, graduated from Kent State. During his undergraduate days, Saban was a defensive back for the Golden Flashes, graduating in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in business. He had no intention of going into coaching, but ended up staying involved with football at Kent State as a graduate assistant under Don James, while Terry finished up school. After obtaining his master’s in sports administration in 1975, Saban went on to serve as an assistant coach at Syracuse in 1977. Since then, he has had stops at West Virginia (1978-79), Ohio State (1980-81), Navy (1982), Michigan State (1983-87 and 1995-99), the Houston Oilers (1988-89), Toledo (1990), the Cleveland Browns (1991-94), LSU (2000-04), the Miami Dolphins (2005-06) and now Alabama (2007-present).
KENT STATE AND ALABAMA PLAYERS JOIN TO ASSIST IN TORNADO RELIEF: Spencer Keith, Ishmaa’ily Kitchen, Lee Stalker and Jacquise Terry, all members of the Kent State football program, traveled to Alabama on July 22-23, to help with various tornado relief efforts. On July 22, the four student-athletes teamed up with Alabama’s D.J. Fluker, Nico Johnson, John Fulton, Vinnie Sunseri and Caleb Castille to volunteer at Habitat for Humanity in Holt. The next day, the Kent State players held a clinic for nearly 20 underprivileged children that were displaced by the tornado. Following the clinic, the players headed to Temporary Emergency Services spending the afternoon sorting through boxes and hauling goods to other locations.
OPENING DAY SCORING SPREE: Alabama has scored 350 points in its last nine season openers, an average of 38.9 points per game in wins over Middle Tennessee (39-34), South Florida (40-17), Utah State (48-17), Middle Tennessee (26-7), Hawai’i (25-17), Western Carolina (52-6), Clemson (34-10), Virginia Tech (34-24) and San Jose State (48-3). Alabama’s 52-6 win over Western Carolina in 2007 featured the most points scored by the Tide in a season opener since a 66-0 win over California at Legion Field to open the 1973 season. The Tide scored 40 points in back-to-back openers in 2003 and 2004, marking the first time since 1941-42 the Crimson Tide had hung 40 points on the board on opening night. Alabama has scored 40 or more points in its season opener 27 times, but only nine times since World War II. The record for most points in a season opener came in an 89-0 win over Delta State in 1951.
NEW HIRES: The Alabama football staff features three new assistants in 2011 with the addition of Mike Groh (wide receivers and recruiting coordinator), Chris Rumph (defensive line) and Jeff Stoutland (offensive line). Groh, a former quarterback at Virginia, joins the Crimson Tide after most recently serving as quarterbacks coach at Louisville. Rumph, a four-year letterman at South Carolina, spent the last five seasons as the defensive ends coach at Clemson, while Stoutland served as Miami’s offensive line coach from 2007-10.
TOP AIDES: Alabama’s coaching staff was ranked No. 1 in the Yahoo! Sports/Rivals.com Top 10 Football Coaching Staffs list. Following the Tide was Oklahoma, TCU, Virginia Tech, Oregon, Iowa, South Carolina, Penn State, Boise State and Wisconsin. Alabama’s leadership on the sidelines and in the booth has a wealth of knowledge across all levels of football. The nine-man staff features a former head coach at the Bowl Subdivision level in Bobby Williams (Michigan State). The staff also has five coaches that have spent time as assistant coaches in the NFL in Mike Groh (Jets), Jim McElwain (Raiders), Kirby Smart (Dolphins), Sal Sunseri (Panthers) and Bobby Williams (Lions and Dolphins).
CRIMSON TIDE PLAYERS ON NFL ROSTERS: The Alabama football program is well represented in the NFL as it starts the 2011 season with former players and coaches dotting league rosters. The Tide has 46 former players and coaches working in the NFL this season. Charlie Peprah is the only Alabama player on the defending Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers. The Crimson Tide has 33 current NFL players. There are 13 former UA players and/or coaches serving as assistant coaches in the NFL this season.
ALABAMA’S TV RECORD: Alabama has compiled a 180-125-4 (.584) all-time record in 309 televised games. This does not include pay-per-view, tape-delayed or closed circuit telecasts.
OVERTIME RECORD: Alabama is 4-7 (.364) all-time in overtime games. In its last overtime game, the Crimson Tide defeated LSU 27-21 at Tiger Stadium on Nov. 8, 2008. Alabama has lost six of its last nine overtime games. The Crimson Tide is 4-6 (.400) in overtime games against SEC teams. Alabama is 2-4 (.333) in overtime home games. The Crimson Tide is 3-4 (.429) in single-overtime games.
MEMORABLE SEASON OPENERS: Here is a look at some of the memorable season openers for the Crimson Tide since World War II.
1938 - Alabama 19, Southern California 7 (Sept. 24, 1938, Los Angeles)
1940 - Alabama 26, Spring Hill 0 (Sept. 27, 1940, Mobile)
1958 - LSU 13, Alabama 3 (Sept. 27, Mobile, Ala.)
1960 - Alabama 21, Georgia 6 (Sept. 17, 1960, Birmingham)
1971 - Alabama 17, Southern California 10 (Sept. 10, Los Angeles)
1978 - Alabama 20, Nebraska 3 (Sept. 2, Birmingham)
1985 - Alabama 20, Georgia 16 (Sept. 2, Athens, Ga.)
1986 - Alabama 16, Ohio State 10 (Aug. 27, East Rutherford, N.J.)
1998 - Alabama 38, Brigham Young 31 (Sept. 5, Tuscaloosa)
2008 - Alabama 34, Clemson 10 (Aug. 30, Atlanta)
2009 - Alabama 34, Virginia Tech 24 (Sept. 5, Atlanta)