Nostalgia Time

Gene Stallings thought Tide would win

A couple of great photographs on the Insider Board showing, for instance, the 11-man defensive front Alabama used in the 1993 Sugar Bowl win against Miami brought to mind Coach Gene Stallings pre-game confidence.

Although Alabama was undefeated, Miami was the defending national champion and the heavy favorite to defeat the Crimson Tide in the 1993 Sugar Bowl. As everyone knows, that 1992 Bama squad rolled to a dramatic 34-13 victory and was the unanimous national champion.

Alabama's win against the Hurricanes, which featured the Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, Gino Torretta, was so convincing that Alabama was the most unanimous national champion in history, getting every first place vote in every poll.

Gene Stallings wrote the foreword to the soon-to-be-released book, "What It Means To Be Crimson Tide." He had very good memories of that game and that season. (In fact, in his foreword he shares all good feelings about his time with Coach Paul Bryant as a player and assistant coach and his seven-year period as Alabama's head coach. He also talks about how and why he did NOT become Bama's head football following Bryant's retirement after the 1982 season.)

Regarding that Sugar Bowl game, Stallings wrote:

"[T]he highlight season was 1992 when we went 13-0 and won the national championship. I didn't allow myself to start thinking about the national championship until we were 8-0 or 9-0. We were 11-0 and still hadn't won the conference championship, and even though we were ranked second in the nation, there was no guarantee at that time we would have played Miami, which was number one. But we won the SEC Championship game against Florida, and that set up the Sugar Bowl game of number one Miami against number two Alabama.

"I thought we would win the game. We led the nation in about three different defensive categories. I thought we could shut down the run and shut down the pass, and I thought we could run the ball. That's the way it turned out.

"I guess that game had maybe the greatest individual play I have ever seen, George Teague running down their receiver, Lamar Thomas, and taking the ball away from him. Even though we were leading at the time, that could have been the turning point. A team like Miami was capable of scoring a lot of points in a hurry.

"But just because I thought we would win doesn't mean I was ever comfortable. I think it was down to about two minutes to play and us with a 34-13 lead before I was sure we were going to win the game. And it was so gratifying to win every national championship that was awarded that year."

Although this isn't in the book, and isn't first-hand information, I have heard from reliable sources that Tommy Tuberville, who was a Miami assistant coach, said that after the Hurricanes' staff started looking at film of Alabama that they knew the likely outcome, too.

I was with Brother Oliver and Jeff Rouzie the night before the game, and they were both supremely confident. Of course, a lot of Alabama fans in New Orleans were confident the night before the game, but Oliver and Rouzie had not been down on Bourbon Street like the fans.

The Stallings foreword is part of "What It Means To Be Crimson Tide," which can be ordered by VISA or MasterCard by calling 1-205-345-5074. It is $27.95 plus tax (if applicable) and shipping and handling. If you would like, author Kirk McNair will autograph the book as you specify at no additional charge.

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