Aug. 31, 2009
Alabama Football Game Notes vs. Virginia Tech
CHICK-FIL-A COLLEGE KICKOFF
ALABAMA (0-0) VS. VIRGINIA TECH (0-0)
SATURDAY, SEPT. 5 7 P.M. ABC SPORTS
GEORGIA DOME (71,500) ATLANTA, GA.
Opponent: Virginia Tech Hokies
Site: Georgia Dome (71,500)
Series: UA leads, 10-1
Tickets: Sold Out
Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit & Lisa Salters
Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network
WFFN-FM (95.3) - Tuscaloosa
Eli Gold, Phil Savage & Barry Krauss
Satellite Radio: Channels: XM - 201; SIRIUS - 218
National Radio: Westwood One
Up Next: Florida International
Sept. 12 - 6 p.m. - Bryant-Denny Stadium (92,138)
THE GAME: The University of Alabama football team opens the 2009 season on Saturday, September 5, when the Crimson Tide travels to Atlanta, Ga., to face the Virginia Tech Hokies in the Chick-fil-A College Kickoff. The neutral-site game marks the beginning of the 115th season of Alabama football. The Alabama-Virginia Tech game will be televised nationally by ABC Sports with kickoff set for 7 p.m. (CDT). Brent Musburger will call the action with Kirk Herbstreit as the color analyst and Lisa Salters on the sidelines.
HEAD COACH Nick Saban: Alabama head coach Nick Saban (Kent State, 1973) begins his third season with the Crimson Tide. He was named the school's 27th head coach on Jan. 3, 2007. Saban has compiled a 110-50-1 (.686) record as a collegiate head coach with a 19-8 (.704) mark at Alabama that includes a 12-2 record last year. He captured his 100th career win and coached his 150th game as a collegiate head coach during the 2008 campaign. Saban led LSU to a 13-1 record and the BCS National Championship in 2003. Overall, Saban has coached three conference championship teams (1990 Mid-American, 2001 SEC and 2003 SEC) and nine of his 12 teams have played in post-season bowl games with Tide appearing in the 2009 Sugar Bowl. Saban is the only current Football Bowl Subdivision coach to coach for at least 10 years and not suffer a losing season.
RANKINGS: Alabama opens the 2009 season ranked fifth in the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches' preseason polls. It is highest preseason ranking for the Tide since the 2000 season when they opened at No. 3, and just the third time UA has been ranked in the preseason poll since the 2000 season. Virginia Tech is ranked seventh in both the preseason AP Top 25 and the coaches' poll.
VIRGINIA TECH SERIES: Alabama holds a commanding 10-1 edge in the all-time series with Virginia Tech, but it has been 30 years since the Crimson Tide's last victory in 1979. The most recent meeting between the two schools was a Hokies' 38-7 win in the 1998 Music City Bowl in Nashville. The Tide's last win was a 31-7 conquest in Tuscaloosa in 1979. Alabama won the first 10 games in the series that began with a 9-6 Tide win in 1932. Alabama then posted shutouts over Tech in 1933 (27-0) and 1952 (33-0). Alabama and Virginia Tech met six times from 1968 to 1979 with two games in Birmingham, one in Blacksburg and four in Tuscaloosa. The largest margin of victory of the Crimson Tide came in 1973 when UA posted a 77-6 win in Tuscaloosa. Several of the Tide's all-time single-game that were set that day still stand, including 833 total yards, 11.9 yards per play, 748 rushing yards and 11.9 yards per rush.
NEXT GAME: Alabama opens the home portion of its 2009 football schedule on Saturday, Sept. 12, against the Florida International Panthers at Bryant-Denny Stadium. It will be the second time FIU and Alabama have met on the football field, with the Tide claiming a 38-3 win at home in 2006. The game is slated for a 6 p.m. kickoff and will be televised on a pay-per-view basis.
ALABAMA DEGREES: Alabama's success on the field over the past two seasons under the direction of head coach Nick Saban has also coincided with the Crimson Tide's success in the classroom. An impressive 12 Crimson Tide players will take the field in 2009 with degrees already in hand, including Eryk Anders (Health Studies), Drew Davis (marketing), P.J. Fitzgerald (management), Mike Johnson (consumer affairs), Tyrone King (Health Studies), Greg McElroy (business marketing), Cory Reamer (finance), Chris Rogers (consumer affairs), Ali Sharrief (human environmental science), Travis Sikes (consumer affairs), Heath Thomas and Lorenzo Washington (human environmental science). McElroy finished his undergraduate degree in just three years with a 3.86 grade point average while graduating magna cum laude. On top of that, another 10 players are on track to graduate in December of 2009. In 2008, Alabama had six players with degrees already in hand.
TIDE LEADS NATION IN GRADUATES: Alabama's 12 graduates on the 2009 roster are the most of any school in the Bowl Championship Subdivision. The Crimson Tide is four graduates ahead of any other SEC school with Auburn checking in fifth with eight graduates. Boston College and the Tide season-opening opponent Virginia Tech are tied for second with 10 graduates while Miami and Penn State are fourth with nine. (see sidebar for complete list)
LINEBACKERS NATION'S ELITE: Alabama entered the season a year ago with a lot of questions and no depth at linebacker. In 2009, one of the few questions is how will the Tide get all of their talented young linebackers playing time. Leading that group of is junior Rolando McClain and sophomore Dont'a Hightower. McClain was a Butkus Award finalist a year ago and a preseason Playboy All-American in 2009. Hightower was a Freshman All-American a year ago and will be looking for even more as a sophomore. ESPN.com SEC beat writer Chris Low recently took a look at the SEC linebacking corps and ranked them from 1-12. The Crimson Tide came out on top in a league filled with outstanding linebackers. Sporting News also tabbed the Alabama linebackers the best in the nation. Below is a look at what Low had to say about the Tide.
"1. Alabama: The one-two punch of Rolando McClain and Dont'a Hightower is as good as there is anywhere in the country. Watch some of the younger guys take off at linebacker this season, too, like Courtney Upshaw and Jerrell Harris. The Crimson Tide have depth, talent and smarts to go around at linebacker."
PRESEASON RANKINGS: Alabama is ranked in the Associated Press preseason poll for the 42nd time in school history with its No. 5 ranking this season. The Crimson Tide is ranked in the AP preseason poll for the second time since 2001. From 1961-84, Alabama was ranked in 24 consecutive preseason polls. Overall, the Tide is 30-10-1 in season openers when ranked in the preseason top 25.
PRESEASON ALL-AMERICANS: The Crimson Tide has had five players earn preseason first-team All-America honors leading up to the start of the 2009 campaign. Javier Arenas, Terrence Cody, Mike Johnson, Julio Jones and Rolando McClain have garnered at least one first-team designation. McClain leads the way with six first-team honors. (complete list of preseason All-American in the sidebar)
VIRGINIA TECH UNDER FRANK BEAMER: The success of Virginia Tech football under coach Frank Beamer stems from a stingy defense and outstanding special teams play over his lengthy stay in Blacksburg. In 2008, a young Tech squad finished seventh nationally in total defense (279.43), ninth in scoring defense (16.71), 14th in rushing defense (104.43) and 16th in passing defense (175.0). During the `Beamer Era' at Virginia Tech, putting points on the scoreboard has become an entire team effort - on offense, defense and special teams. Virginia Tech's knack for scoring non-offensive touchdowns, playing tough defense and having great special teams has earned them the moniker of Beamerball. Since Beamer's first season in 1987, a player at every position on the defensive unit has scored at least one touchdown. And at least 25 different players have scored touchdowns while on VT's special teams.
ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY: For the second straight year, ESPN's College GameDay will be in attendance for the University of Alabama football team's season opener in Atlanta. No. 5 Alabama will meet preseason No. 7 Virginia Tech in the second annual Chick-fil-a College Kickoff. The show was also in attendance last year for Alabama's 34-10 win over Clemson in the inaugural game. Alabama will be making its 15th all-time appearance on ESPN College GameDay and its sixth appearance under head coach Nick Saban. The six appearances in the Saban era tie Oklahoma for the most GameDay appearances since the 2007 season. The Crimson Tide was on four times last season against Clemson, Georgia, LSU and Florida. The Tide also appeared on national television 10 times last season, including five games on CBS, three games on ESPN and one game on ABC and FOX.
ALABAMA'S ALL-TIME COLLEGE GAMEDAY APPEARANCES
Nov. 19, 1994 #6 Auburn at #4 Alabama (Birmingham)
Oct. 14, 1995 #6 Tennessee at #12 Alabama (Birmingham)
Nov. 9, 1996 #10 Alabama at #11 LSU
Nov. 23, 1996 Auburn at #15 Alabama (Birmingham)
Sept. 1, 2001 #17 UCLA at #25 Alabama
Oct. 5, 2002 #6 Georgia at Alabama
Sept. 6, 2003 #1 Oklahoma at Alabama
Nov. 12, 2005 #5 LSU at #3 Alabama
Sept. 22, 2007 #22 Georgia at #16 Alabama
Aug. 30, 2008 #24 Alabama vs. #9 Clemson (Atlanta, Ga.)
Sept. 27, 2008 #8 Alabama at #3 Georgia
Nov. 8, 2008 #1 Alabama at #16 LSU
Dec. 6, 2008 #1 Alabama vs. #4 Florida (Atlanta, Ga.)
Sept. 5, 2009 #5 Alabama vs. #7 Virginia Tech (Atlanta, Ga.)
SABAN AMONG THE BEST: Head coach Nick Saban's arrival in Tuscaloosa has seen his Crimson Tide vault up the national rankings. His success in such a short period of time has quickly 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 the only coach in Bowl Championship Subdivision football to have coached 10 years and never suffered through a losing season. He also ranks fourth in winning percentage (68.6 percent) among active coaches who have coached at least 10 years of Division I-A football.
COACH OF THE YEAR: Saban's success and quick turnaround in 2008 was not lost on the nation. He garnered six national coach of the year awards, including the Home Depot Coach of the year, the FWAA/Eddie Robinson, Associated Press, Sporting News, Walter Camp and Liberty Mutual. In 2003, Saban was also selected National Coach of the Year by the Associated Press and captured the Paul W. "Bear" Bryant National Coach of the Year Award.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: Coach Saban also spent a little time behind the camera during the offseason. He flew out to Los Angeles to film an ESPN College GameDay commercial with Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Fowler. Saban also filmed scenes for the movie Blindside, which chronicles the life of former Mississippi offensive tackle Michael Oher.
STADIUM RENOVATION: The newest expansion project for Bryant-Denny Stadium will see an increase in seating capacity to approximately 101,000, keeping it among the largest on-campus football stadiums in the nation. The expansion, which is expected to be complete for the beginning of the 2010 season, will be the fourth expansion of this magnificent edifice since 1988 and the seventh expansion in the stadium's history. This renovation will mirror north end zone project that was completed in 2006. It will consist of roughly 8,500 additional seats, 1,700 South Zone Club seats, two corner video boards, an upper concourse with concessions and restrooms, 36 skyboxes, offices Donors Hall of Fame and an outdoor market for food and merchandise.
DOMINANT "D": One of the positives for the Crimson Tide in 2009 is the wealth of talent and experience they return on the defensive side of the football. Alabama returns eight starters to a defense that finished third nationally in total defense, allowing just 263.5 yards per game. They also finished second in rush defense, surrendering just 74.14 ypg. The Tide's scoring defense was seventh (14.29) while the pass efficiency defense was 14th (106.68). The Crimson Tide defense returns 84 percent of the tackles (728 of 866) from last season.
BURNS AND COCHRAN HONORED: Associate head coach and running backs coach Burton Burns along with head strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran were named the nation's best at their respective fields in 2008. Burns was named college football's 2008 FootballScoop Running Backs Coach of the Year, while Cochran was tabbed as the 2008 Samson Strength & Conditioning Coach of the Year for his work with the Crimson Tide in the weight room.
TOUGH SLATE: Alabama will once again have one of the most difficult schedules in the nation with three games against teams ranked in the USA Today Coaches' Poll top 10. The Tide will face No. 7 Virginia Tech in the opener and then travel to No. 10 Mississippi on Oct. 10. The final preseason top-10 foe is LSU, who will visit Tuscaloosa on Nov 7.
ARENAS A COMMUNITY SERVICE LEADER: Senior cornerback and return specialist Javier Arenas is a nominee for the 2009 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, which recognizes college football players who make outstanding contributions in the area of volunteerism and civic involvement. Arenas, a native of Tampa, Fla., is one of 52 Division I-A student-athletes across college football nominated for their efforts away from the gridiron. These athletes are being honored for their selfless efforts in the surrounding communities. Arenas has volunteered more than 50 hours of community service throughout the Tuscaloosa community. He has spent time in the local school systems, speaking to children about the dangers of bullying and the positive effects of team work. He has also attended birthday parties of physically challenged children and reached out with phone calls to children battling cancer.
SPORTING NEWS CHRONICLES Mike Johnson: Like his fellow offensive lineman Antoine Caldwell did a season ago, Alabama senior left guard Mike Johnson will write a regular diary for the Sporting News in 2009. Johnson will take a look at all aspects of life when you are a college football player at one of the most storied programs.
SOPHOMORE SENSATIONS: Julio Jones and Mark Ingram return for their sophomore season and give the Alabama offense a big-play threat both inside and outside. The duo turned in some of the best rookie seasons in school history in 2008. Jones set school freshman marks for receptions (58), yards (924) and touchdowns (4), while Ingram rushed for 728 yards and a UA rookie record 12 scores.
ARENAS BREAKING SPECIAL TEAMS RECORDS: Javier Arenas enters his senior season near or at the top of almost all of the Crimson Tide's punt return records. He is a preseason Playboy All-American as a return specialist and a first-team All-SEC selection at cornerback. He is one of the most dangerous return men in the country and Alabama's career leader in punt returns yards in a game, season and career as well as touchdowns. He is the active NCAA leader in career punt returns for touchdowns and punt return yards in a game. Arenas' 13.54 career yards per punt return also ranks first on the Alabama career chart, just ahead of Harry Gilmer. His six career punt returns for touchdowns also ties the SEC record.
NFL DRAFT: The Crimson Tide saw four players selected in the 2009 NFL Draft, including first-round pick Andre Smith, who went to the Cincinnati Bengals with the No. 6 overall pick. Glen Coffee (San Francisco), Antoine Caldwell (Houston) and Rashad Johnson (Arizona) all went off the board in the third round. The four picks are the most for the Tide since five players were taken in 2005.
RETURNING SUCCESS: Much of the talk in the preseason has been about Alabama`s vaunted defense, and the defensive side of the football is where the Crimson Tide returns the biggest portion of its players from last year's Sugar Bowl team. UA features 14 total returning starters and 55 lettermen this season, but eight of those returning starters are on the defensive side of the football with four on offense and both specialists. The Tide returns 90 percent of its lettermen on defense and 73 percent on offense. The defense returns 84 percent of the tackles (728 of 866) from last season. The special teams returns almost completely intact with place-kicker Leigh Tiffin, punter P.J. Fitzgerald, snapper Brian Selman and return specialist Javier Arenas.
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 over $1 million - including over $300,000 this year - for "Nick's Kids" and made a total of more than 160 donations to children's charities throughout the state of Alabama.
TIDE PLAYERS EARN EARLY ACCOLADES: Eight Alabama players have been named to 11 different preseason awards watch lists heading into the 2009 season. The players have been recognized before the start of the 2009 season as potentially the top players at their position nationally.
Both Rolando McClain and Terrence Cody appear on five watch lists. McClain is on the watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award (best defensive player), Dick Butkus Award (top linebacker), Lombardi Trophy (top lineman or linebacker), Lott Trophy (best defensive player) and Nagurski Trophy (defensive player of the year). As a sophomore, McClain led the Tide with 95 tackles and 12 tackles for loss. Cody is also up for the Bednarik Award, Lombardi Trophy, Lott Trophy, Nagurski Award and Outland Trophy. Last year as a junior, Cody recorded 24 tackles, 4 ½ tackles for loss and recovered two fumbles for the Tide. Other defensive players on the various preseason awards list included Arenas (Nagurski and Thorpe) and Hightower (Butkus and Lombardi).
The Crimson Tide offense is represented by Mark Ingram, Mike Johnson and Julio Jones. Jones appears on the Biletnikoff Award (best receiver) and Maxwell Trophy (player of the year), while Johnson is on both the Lombardi and Outland watch lists for outstanding linemen. Ingram appears on the Doak Walker Award list, presented the nation's top running back. Last year as a freshman, Ingram ran for 712 yards and freshman record 12 touchdowns. Senior Leigh Tiffin was named to the Lou Groza Award list, which is given to the nation's top place kicker.
THREE TIDE PLAYERS NAMED PLAYBOY ALL-AMERICANS: Alabama landed three players on the 2009 Playboy Magazine annual preseason College Football All-America Team. Rolando McClain was selected as a linebacker while Julio Jones was picked at wide receiver and Javier Arenas was the return specialist. Alabama has now had four Playboy All-Americans in the last two years after Andre Smith was chosen in 2008.
TRUE FRESHMEN START SEASON OPENER: Alabama has had 11 true freshmen start the season opener since freshmen regained their eligibility from the NCAA in 1973. In each of the past two years, a pair of true freshmen have started the season opener. In 2007, Rolando McClain (LB) and Kareem Jackson (CB) started against Western Carolina. Last season, both Dont'a Hightower (LB) and Julio Jones (WR) got the nod against Clemson. The 2008 season opener marked the third time in school history the Crimson Tide has started a pair of true freshmen in the its opener. In 1999, Alabama started freshman left tackle Dante Ellington and linebacker Saleem Rasheed in its 28-17 win at Vanderbilt. Alabama has started at least one true freshman in the season opener in each of the last three seasons as left tackle Andre Smith started his first game at Alabama in the 2006 season opener against Hawaii.
FRESHMAN ACADEMICS: Alabama's heralded 2008 freshman class did more than just excel on the football field, the Crimson Tide placed 12 rookies on the 2009 SEC Freshman Academic Honor Roll, by far the highest total in the SEC with Georgia coming in second with seven honorees ... the Tide's freshmen academic honorees were Undra Billingsley, John Michael Boswell, Jerrell Harris, Mark Ingram, Barrett Jones, Chris Jordan, Tyler Love, Wesley Neighbors, Brad Smelley, Corey Smith, Damion Square and Michael Williams. Each student-athlete must have a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or above and be on scholarship or a letter winner. They also must completed 24 semester hours of non-remedial credit at the nominating institution and have been a member of the varsity team for the sport's entire NCAA Championship segment.
SEASON OPENERS: Alabama has compiled a 90-21-3 all-time record in season openers, including a seven-game winning streak. Dating back to the 1977 season, Alabama is 28-4 in its last 32 season openers and the Tide has posted a 16-2 opening day record since 1991. The 2009 season marks the 10th consecutive year the Tide has opened the season with a non-conference opponent. The Tide is opening the season away from home for the second straight time and the time since the 2000 season when they opened with UCLA in the Rose Bowl. UA opened at the Georgia Dome last season against Clemson. Alabama is opening the season with a BCS opponent for the second time since facing UCLA in Bryant-Denny Stadium on Sept. 1, 2001.
COACH SABAN IN SEASON OPENERS: Coach Saban is 10-3 in his collegiate season openers. He led Alabama to a 52-6 win over Western Carolina on Sept. 1, 2007, in his inaugural game with the Crimson Tide and a 34-10 win over Clemson in 2008. 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 SITE: Alabama has played its season opener in 18 different cities in its 115-year history of football. The 2009 season opener with Virginia Tech at the Georgia Dome marks the second time since the 1982 season that UA has opened the season in Atlanta. Alabama is 3-0 in season openers in Atlanta, beating Georgia Tech at Grant Field in 1979 (30-6) and 1982 (45-7) and Clemson (34-10) in 2008. The 2009 season also marks the Tide's 10th season opener in the state of Georgia. The Tide is 6-3 in the previous nine openers, including a 3-2 mark in Athens and a 0-1 mark in Columbus. The most common venue for an Alabama season opener is on the UA campus in Tuscaloosa, where the Tide has opened the season 50 times and compiled a 47-2-1 record. The Tide is 17-1-1 in season openers at Bryant-Denny Stadium (circa 1929) following 2007's win over Western Carolina. The Tide has also opened the season 29 times in Birmingham and has posted a 24-4-1 record in those games.
SEASON OPENERS BY HEAD COACH: Coach Nick Saban 2-0 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 successful career.
SEASON OPENERS BY OPPONENTS: The Crimson Tide will open with Virginia Tech for the third time in school history after beginning the 1968 and 1969 seasons with wins over the Hokies. UA has opened the season with 54 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 Ole Miss, 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.
ALABAMA VS. ACC: Alabama has compiled a 77-33-1 (.698) against the current ACC field. Virginia Tech marks Alabama's fourth ACC opponent in the last four years, joining Duke (2006), Florida State (2007) and Clemson (2008). The Crimson Tide's record against the ACC field includes Boston College (1-3), Clemson (12-3), Duke (2-1), Florida State (2-1-1), Georgia Tech (28-21-3), Maryland (2-1), Miami, Fla. (14-3), North Carolina (1-0), North Carolina State (5-0) and Virginia Tech (10-1). Alabama has never faced Virginia or Wake Forest in football.
SABAN VS. ACC: Alabama head coach Nick Saban is 3-2 (.600) in his career against ACC teams. He has posted wins against Boston College (1995), Georgia Tech (2000) and Clemson (2008) while suffering losses to Virginia Tech (2002) and Florida State (2007). He is 1-1 against ACC teams at Alabama, including a 34-10 win over Clemson in the 2008 Chick-fil-a College Kickoff.
OPENING-DAY SCORING SPREE: Alabama has scored 268 points in its last seven season openers, an average of 38.3 points per game in wins over Middle Tennessee (39-34), South Florida (40-17), Utah State (48-17), Middle Tennessee (26-7), Hawaii (25-17), Western Carolina (52-6) and Clemson (34-10). Alabama's 52-6 win over Western Carolina in 2007 were 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 26 times, but only eight times since the World War II. The record for most points in a season opener was an 89-0 win over Delta State in 1951.
OPENING-DAY TRIVIA: Alabama has posted 49 opening day shutouts in its football history, including 16 consecutive opening-day shutouts from 1904-20 ... From 1904-34, Alabama posted 29 opening-day shutouts in a 30-year period. The lone exception was a 34-14 win over Howard (now Samford) in 1921 ... On the flip side, Alabama has been shutout on opening day just five times, with the last coming in 1957 ... Alabama's longest opening day winning streak came from 1904-34, when the Crimson Tide posted 31 consecutive wins in season openers ... From 1904-47, Alabama was an incredible 40-0-2 in season openers, which included a pair of ties, against Howard (7-7, 1925) and LSU (27-27, 1944) ... Alabama's 42-game unbeaten streak in season openers ended with a 21-14 loss at Tulane on Sept. 25, 1948 ... The Crimson Tide had a seven-game losing streak in season openers from 1953-59, the longest in school history ... The Crimson Tide also suffered back-to-back opening day losses in 1975 (Missouri, 20-7) and 1976 (Mississippi, 10-7), and 2000 (UCLA, 35-24) and 2001 (UCLA, 20-17) ... Prior to the loss to UCLA in 2000, Alabama had reeled off nine straight opening day wins, the longest winning streak in the modern era of UA football.
NEW HIRES: The Alabama football staff features two new faces in 2009, including linebackers' coaches Sal Sunseri and James Willis. Sunseri joins the staff spending the last seven seasons as the defensive line coach for the NFL's Carolina Panthers where he coached the likes of Pro Bowl players Julius Peppers, Mike Rucker and Kris Jenkins. Willis joined Saban's staff after spending three years with Auburn where he worked with former Saban assistant Will Muschamp. He spent seven seasons in the NFL prior to beginning his coaching career.
TOP AIDES: Alabama's coaching staff has a wealth of knowledge across all levels of football. The nine-man Crimson Tide staff features a former head coaches at the Bowl Subdivision level in Bobby Williams (Michigan State). The staff also has six coaches that have spent time as assistant coaches in the NFL in Bo Davis (Dolphins), Jim McElwain (Raiders), Joe Pendry (19 years with multiple teams), Kirby Smart (Dolphins), Sal Sunseri (Panthers) and Bobby Williams (Lions and Dolphins). Alabama's coaching staff boasts 40-plus years of combined NFL coaching experience.
GEORGIA ON MY MIND: Alabama is 29-28-3 (.508) all-time in games played in the state of Georgia. The Crimson Tide owns a 16-16-3 (.500) record in the city of Atlanta, site of the 2009 season opener, and has won six of its last nine games in Atlanta. The Tide owns a 12-10 record in games played in Athens. Alabama is 0-2 in games played in Columbus.
NEUTRAL SITES: Alabama is 63-46-4 (.575) in neutral site games. The list includes all Alabama-Auburn games not played on campus, including Legion Field from 1948-88. The 2009 season marks the third straight year the Crimson Tide has played a neutral site regular-season game. Last year, Alabama and Clemson met at the Chick-fil-a College Kickoff Classic at the Georgia Dome and the Tide and Florida State met at Jacksonville (Fla.) Municipal Stadium in 2007. Prior to the 2007 FSU game, Alabama had not played a regular season neutral site game since beating No. 9 Ohio State 16-10 in the 1986 Kickoff Classic on Aug. 27 at the Meadowlands.
DOME SWEET DOME: Alabama is 8-5-1 (.607) all-time in domed stadiums after a 1-2 record in 2008. The Crimson Tide is making its fourth appearance in a dome in its last 15 games. Prior to that, the last time UA played in a dome was when they beat No. 5 Florida a 34-7 loss in the 1999 SEC Championship Game on Dec. 4 at the Georgia Dome. UA is 1-3 (.250) in its four SEC Championship game appearances at the Georgia Dome. In addition, UA is 6-2 (.750) in games played at the Louisiana Superdome, including a 5-2 (.714) mark in Sugar Bowl games. Alabama beat Penn State, 13-6, in the first Sugar Bowl game played in the Superdome on Dec. 31, 1975. The Crimson Tide also tied Oklahoma in the 1970 Bluebonnett Bowl inside the Astrodome in Houston. The Tide fell to Utah in the 2009 Sugar Bowl.
ALABAMA'S TV RECORD: Alabama has compiled a 177-115-5 (.607) all-time record in 297 televised games. This does not include pay-per-view, tape-delayed or closed circuit telecasts. The Crimson Tide owns a 152-96-3 (.612) record in 251 regular-season televised games.
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)
In front of 65,000 fans, Hershel Moseley threw two touchdown passes to lead Alabama to a win over Southern California.
1940 -- Alabama 26, Spring Hill 0 (Sept. 27, 1940, Mobile)
In the first night game in Alabama football history, the Tide beat Spring Hill College, 26-0, in front of 7,500 fans at Murphy High School in Mobile.
1958 -- LSU 13, Alabama 3 (Sept. 27, Mobile, Ala.)
The Alabama head coaching debut of Paul "Bear " Bryant took place at Ladd Stadium in Mobile ... Bryant inherited a team that posted a 2-7-1 record in 1957 and took that team to a 5-4-1 mark in his first season.
1960 -- Alabama 21, Georgia 6 (Sept. 17, 1960, Birmingham)
Alabama defeated Georgia 21-6 in the first college football game to be televised by ABC Sports.
1971 -- Alabama 17, USC 10 (Sept. 10, Los Angeles)
Perhaps the most significant season opener in Alabama football annals was the Tide's win at USC ... UA had installed the wishbone offense and kept it a secret throughout the summer and fall camp ... The Tide unleashed its attack against the Trojans and built a 17-0 lead .
1978 -- Alabama 20, Nebraska 3 (Sept. 2, Birmingham)
No. 1 ranked Alabama dominated No. 10 Nebraska before a capacity crowd at Birmingham's Legion Field ... The Crimson Tide avenged a 31-24 loss to the Cornhuskers a year earlier ... Alabama dominated the game on offense as evidenced by a 16-play, 99-yard touchdown drive engineered by quarterback Jeff Rutledge ... The 1978 season opener marked the only time in school history Alabama has been ranked No. 1 in the preseason polls.
1985 -- Alabama 20, Georgia 16 (Sept. 2, Athens)
Junior quarterback Mike Shula fired a 17-yard TD pass to Al Bell with 15 seconds remaining to cap a thrilling game-winning drive in the final minute to beat Georgia between the hedges ... A Labor Day night crowd burst into excitement as Georgia blocked an Alabama punt and covered it in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown in the final minute of play ... The calm and confident Shula directed the Crimson Tide down the field for the game-winner, giving ABC Sports a thrilling season opener in 1985.
1986 -- Alabama 16, Ohio State 10 (Aug. 27, Meadowlands)
Fifth-ranked Alabama defeated No. 9 Ohio State in the Kickoff Classic at East Rutherford, N.J. ... The game marked the last time Alabama opened the season against a team ranked in the Top 25 until 2001 when meeting UCLA in Tuscaloosa.
1998 -- Alabama 38, BYU 31 (Sept. 5, Tuscaloosa)
Shaun Alexander rushed for an Alabama single-game record five touchdowns, leading the Crimson Tide to a 38-31 win over BYU in the newly expanded Bryant-Denny Stadium ... A record crowd of 83,318 fans watched as Alexander scored on runs of 5, 37, 1, 28 and 2 yards to lead the Crimson Tide to victory.
2008 -- Alabama 34, Clemson 10 (Aug. 30, Atlanta, Ga.)
Nick Saban's team dominated the No. 9 Clemson Tigers from start to finish in a 34-10 win on national TV. The Crimson Tide rushed for 239 yards while limiting Clemson to 0 rushing yards. The Alabama defense did not allow a touchdown quarterback John Parker Wilson found the end zone twice while throwing for 189 yards and no interceptions.
A-DAY SUCCESS: Alabama has led the SEC in spring football game attendance each of the last three seasons, averaging 84,769 fans for Coach Nick Saban's three A-Day football games at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama dew a then-NCAA record 92,138 fans for Saban's first spring football game on April 21, 2007. In 2008, Alabama led the SEC again with 78,200 fans for it's A-Day game on April 12. The Tide again set the pace in the SEC with 84,050 fans on April 17, 2009.