Dec. 6, 2008
ATLANTA, Ga. - The 1979 Alabama Crimson Tide football team has been named the greatest Southeastern Conference football team of all-time.
Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant's only 12-win team edged out the 1992 Alabama team, in an all-Alabama final, Friday afternoon at the 2008 SEC Fan Fest at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. The 1979 team won a vote by telecommunications customers as AT&T's All-Time Greatest SEC Team. Don McNeal, a captain on the 1979 team, accepted the AT&T Trophy on behalf of his team.
The 1979 Alabama team posted a 12-0 record and clinched Bryant's sixth and final national championship. The Crimson Tide opened the season ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press poll and following five straight wins ascended to the top spot in the poll with a 5-0 record, which included wins over Georgia Tech, Baylor, Vanderbilt, Wichita State and Florida. The Crimson Tide remained No. 1 throughout the regular season, with wins over Tennessee, Southern Mississippi, Mississippi State, LSU, Miami (Fla.) and Auburn.
A narrow 25-18 victory over Auburn saw the Tide slip back to No. 2 behind Ohio State, but a 24-9 win over Arkansas and an OSU loss in the Rose Bowl left the Tide as the only undefeated team in the land securing the consensus national title. The 1979 team set team records for rushing attempts (763) and first downs by rushing (213), both which still exist today. On defense, Alabama allowed only two rushing touchdowns in 12 games to tie the school mark also set by the 1933 and 1961 teams. Alabama also intercepted a school-record 25 passes in 1979. The Crimson Tide led the nation in scoring defense in 1979, yielding just 5.3 points per game. Alabama led the SEC in scoring offense (32.9), scoring defense (5.3), rushing offense (344.7), total offense (428.9), rushing defense (101.9), passing defense (78.2) and total defense (180.1).
The 1992 team went 13-0 for Coach Gene Stallings en route to the school's 12th national title. The 1992 team led the nation in all four major statistical defensive categories in the regular season and beat Florida in the first SEC Championship Game. Alabama then beat No. 1 Miami, 34-13, in the Sugar Bowl to win the national title.