Countdown to Kickoff
Alabama Football: Thursday Notebook



Sept. 10, 2009

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 one of two coaches (Bob Stoops, Oklahoma) in Football Bowl 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.

BEST COACHING STARTS: Nick Saban has compiled a 20-7 (.741) record in his career with the Tide and the 20 wins rank as the fifth-most for any Crimson Tide head football coach after 28 games. Wallace Wade holds the record for most wins after 28 games, with 24 victories. Frank Thomas is third with 21 wins in 26 games with Gene Stallings fourth with 20. Below are the most wins by Alabama coaches after the first 26 games in their career.

Most Wins (After 28 Games)
Wallace Wade                     24
Frank Thomas                     23
Gene Stallings                     22
Xen Scott                            22
J.W.H. Pollard                     21
Nick Saban                                 20

Most Wins (After 29 Games)
Wallace Wade                     25
Frank Thomas                     24
Gene Stallings                     23
Xen Scott                            22
Bill Curry                             21
J.W.H Pollard                      20

TIDE CAPTURES 800TH WIN: The storied Alabama football program captured the program's 800th win last week in Atlanta with a 34-24 victory over No. 7 Virginia Tech. Alabama is the seventh school in the Football Bowl Subdivision to reach the 800-win plateau. The Crimson Tide holds an 800-316-43 all-time record, which is a .709 winning percentage that ranks sixth in FBS history. The other six programs to record 800 wins are: Michigan (873); Texas (833); Notre Dame (832); Nebraska (818); Ohio State (808); Penn State (801).

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 faced then-No. 7 Virginia Tech in the opener and then travel to No. 10 Mississippi on Oct. 10. The final preseason top-10 foe is ninth-ranked LSU, who will visit Tuscaloosa on Nov 7.

BEATING THE BEST: Alabama has posted a 4-2 record against the Associated Press Top 25 over the last two seasons. The Crimson Tide's 34-24 win over Virginia Tech on Saturday was the Tide's third win over a top-10 team during that 15 game span.

Alabama vs. Top 25 Opponents (last 15 games)
Date                     Team                                    Rank             Result
Aug. 30, 2008    vs. Clemson                   9             W, 34-10
Sept. 27, 2008   at Georgia                      3             W, 41-30
Nov. 8, 2008      at LSU                           15           W, 27-21 (OT)
Dec. 6, 2008      vs. Florida                       2             L, 31-20
Jan. 2, 2009       vs. Utah                         7             L, 31-17
Sept. 5, 3009     vs. Virginia Tech              7             W, 34-24

9 FIRST-TIME STARTERS FOR ALABAMA: Nine Alabama players (6 on offense, 3 on defense) made their first career starts for the Crimson Tide against Virginia Tech. On defense, senior linebacker Eryk Anders, sophomore defensive back Mark Barron and sophomore defensive lineman Marcell Dareus were first-time starters. On offense, junior left tackle James Carpenter, sophomore center William Vlachos, sophomore right guard Barrett Jones, senior tight end Colin Peek, sophomore tight end/H-back Brad Smelley and junior quarterback Greg McElroy made their first starts.

11TH NATIONAL TV EXPOSURE IN ALABAMA'S LAST 15 GAMES: The Virginia Tech game was Alabama's 11th national TV broadcast in its last 15 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. The 10 nationally broadcast games last year were tied with Notre Dame for the most in the nation.

HOME OPENERS: Alabama has compiled a 94-15-3 all-time record in home openers, which includes all games in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Mobile and Montgomery. The Crimson Tide enters the 2008 season having won its last seven home openers. The streak includes wins over Middle Tennessee (2002), South Florida (2003), Utah State (2004), Middle Tennessee (2005), Hawai'i (2006), Western Carolina (2007) and Tulane (2008). The last time UA lost its home opener was Sept. 1, 2001, when No. 17 UCLA opened the season with a 20-17 win over No. 25 Alabama in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama's first ever home opener took place on Oct. 14, 1893, when Eli Abbott's Crimson Tide team suffered a 4-0 loss to Birmingham Athletic Club. Alabama posted a 44-game unbeaten streak in home openers from 1904-48, which included a 43-0-1 record. The Tide had a 31-game winning streak from 1904-34 before a 7-7 tie with Howard in 1935. UA followed that up with another 12-game losing streak, before the streak ended with a 28-14 loss to Tulane on Sept. 24, 1949 at Ladd Stadium in Mobile. Since 1929, Alabama is 67-10-1 in Bryant-Denny Stadium openers, including a 20-0-1 record from 1929-50 and a 25-game winning streak from 1964-89. The 21-game unbeaten streak was snapped by a 41-18 loss to Villanova on Oct. 12, 1951. The Tide's 25-game winning streak in home openers was snapped by a 17-13 loss to Florida on Sept. 15, 1990.

SABAN HOME OPENERS:  Coach Nick Saban is 11-2 in his career in home openers, including an eight-game winning streak. The streak includes one win at Michigan State (1999), five at LSU (2000-04) and two at Alabama (2007-08). His last loss in a home opener was Aug. 29, 1998, when Michigan State fell to Colorado State, 23-16, at East Lansing.