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Al-Khateeb: Alabama’s impact on college football second to none (Jan. 2)

Zac Al-Khateeb | Wednesday, January 2, 2013

 

Editor’s Note: The Observer teamed up with The Crimson White, the student newspaper at the University of Alabama, to discuss whether Notre Dame or Alabama has a better football tradition. Here, The Crimson White’s Zac Al-Khateeb argues it’s Alabama.

In the world of college football, the amount of tradition a program can boast can often be used as an indicator of that team’s success throughout the years. If that’s the case, then teams like the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish may just be the two most successful teams in college football history.

And when these two teams meet up in the BCS National Championship Game, it’ll be enough to give college football historians fits. It’ll be a culmination of all the teams’ traditions rolled into one mammoth game: a blur of crimson and golden domes, coaches, players and championships that almost transcend the sport itself.

Which begs the question: Which of these two teams, stacked together, boasts the most traditional program? They’ve booth seen unrivaled success in terms of championships, individual success and impact on the game of football.

In terms of championships, it’s difficult to discern who is the most successful. Alabama has 14 claimed national titles more than any other school, while Notre Dame claims 11. Many pundits criticize Alabama for claiming too many championships, however. Truth be told, it’s all a big arbitrary mess when it comes to crowning the national champion. Even so, Alabama and Notre Dame do have an interesting tie heading into the championship game. Both teams are tied with number of AP national titles, at eight, effectively making the game a tiebreaker.

Both teams have had their share of individual success over the years, as well. Players like Paul Hornung, Leon Hart and Tim Brown are staples of Notre Dame Lore, while Alabama presents players like John Hannah, Joe Namath and Derrick Thomas. Still, Notre Dame has more Heisman winners and more consensus All-Americans than the Tide. While the Irish may have an advantage over Alabama in terms of number of quality players over the years, but the Tide’s players have had much more of an impact on the game.

Hannah is widely regarded as one of the best linemen to ever play the game, while Thomas struck fear in offensive coordinators across the country from his linebacker position. Namath is one of the all-time Alabama greats, and has a name that transcends college football. This is just a fraction of the number of players who’ve made lasting effects on college football.

The head coaches boasted by these two teams also add a lot to the mythical nature of these programs. For Notre Dame, Knute Rockne is often regarded as revolutionizing college football, while bringing it to the center of the national spotlight. Other coaches like Ara Parseghian and Frank Leahy are considered some of the best ever, among other national title-winning coaches at Notre Dame.

On the other side, Alabama can claim coaches Wallace Wade, one of the biggest coaches in college football during his time, Frank Thomas, a protégé of Rockne, Gene Stallings and Nick Saban, the only coach to win national titles at two schools. And then there’s Paul “Bear” Bryant, the pinnacle of college football head coaching success. At the time of his retirement, Bryant held the record for number of wins, and still holds the record for most national championships, with six. Advantage, Alabama.

So, which is the most traditional program in college football history? Both teams have incredible coaches, players and number of championships on their resumes. But, when it comes right down to it, you have to look at the team that’s had the most impact on the game. And that team is Alabama. Player for player, coach for coach and championship for championship, the impact Alabama has had on college football far outweighs that of the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame may be the face of college football, but Alabama has made a much bigger impact on it.

Contact Zac Al-khateeb at zialkhateeb@crimson.ua.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of

The Crimson White or The Observer.