The Truth About Alabama’s Championships

 Trifles light as air
Are to the jealous confirmations strong
As proofs of holy writ.
—William Shakespeare, Othello

Some college football fans take shots at Alabama for claiming 12 national championships. But how many national titles does Alabama have? According to the NCAA, 17. Alabama only claims 12.

Why would Alabama claim fewer titles than the NCAA lists, if the Crimson Tide only made up titles?

Some critics like to point out the questionable nature of the 1973 title. The UPI—or the old coaches poll—awarded the title prior to the bowl season, a practice that was common before the rise of modern football.

Of course, these same critics often ignore the times, like 1966, when Alabama was undefeated and Notre Dame and Michigan State shared the title from the major news services.

A side note on 1966, Alabama won the title in that year, according to the NCAA, but because it was not one of the major championship services, the University and its fans do not claim it.

But what should be the criteria for claiming a title? In the past, there were few if any unanimous champions, that is an out growth of the moder era of football (roughly following the 1970’s, with fewer games and not every team in a bowl game it was more difficult before the 1970’s.) Should we use a consensus (a majority of the polls?) and if so, what polls should be counted? If we were to count only AP, UPI and USA Today titles then we would limit ourselves to championships post 1932 for AP and post 1950 for the UPI, later succeeded by USA Today. But using that standard, Alabama would have 7 titles: it counts a total of 6 AP championships (1992, 1979, 1978, 1965, 1964 and 1961) and 5 coaches poll titles (1992, 1979, 1973, 1964, and 1961). Such a method would have us count the 1973 title, one of the titles most attacked by others. Should it not be counted? If so, should we throw out all other coaches poll results before the poll began absolute post-season balloting? Where do we draw the line? Can’t we trust the coaches poll to be accurate?

And what about championships before the AP began? Should we just ignore them? Or can we use the sources authoritative at the time? 

The unfortunate thing here is that for those interested in tarnishing Alabama’s legacy no proof is sufficient, no reason acceptable. As the bard wrote, the slightest doubt is proof to the jealous.  

The truth is that no other Southern school has such an acclaimed history. In the pantheon of college athletics, Notre Dame, Alabama, Texas, USC, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Michigan represent the pinnacle of achievement. It is sad when individuals cannot find anything in their own team’s history of which to be proud. Instead these sad persons seek to tear down the legacy of others. That’s the modus operandi of many Auburn fans on the Internet and on talk radio (who honestly don’t represent most real Auburn fans). These Internet fans are so insecure, so pathetic they only focus on Alabama.

And that’s sad. Auburn has a rich tradition of achievement worthy of praise. Fans should spend more time celebrating that instead of trying to tarnish the legacy of the Capstone.

Below is a list of the championship years and the selectors: Source: championship years and selectors NCAA

1992—
ALABAMA: AP, Berryman, Billingsley, DeVold, Dunkel, Eck, FACT, FB News, Football Research, FW, Matthews, National Championship Foundation, NY Times, Sporting News, UPI/NFF, USA/CNN
1979—
Alabama: AP, Berryman, Billingsley, DeVold, Dunkel, FACT, FB News, FW, Helms, Matthews, National Championship Foundation, NFF, NY Times, Poling, Sagarin, Sporting News, UPI
Southern California: Football Research
1978—
Alabama: AP, FACT, Football Research, FW, Helms, National Championship Foundation, NFF
Oklahoma: Billingsley, DeVold, Dunkel, FACT, Helms, Litkenhous, Matthews, Poling, Sagarin
Southern California: Berryman, FACT, FB News, Helms, National Championship Foundation, Sporting News, UPI
1973—
Alabama: Berryman, UPI
Michigan: National Championship Foundation, Poling
Notre Dame: AP, FB News, FW, Helms, National Championship Foundation, NFF
Ohio St.: FACT, National Championship Foundation, Poling
Oklahoma: Billingsley, DeVold, Dunkel, Football Research, Sagarin
1965—
Alabama: AP, Billingsley, Football Research, FW, National Championship Foundation
Michigan St.: Berryman, DeVold, Dunkel, FB News, FW, Helms, Litkenhous, NFF, Poling, Sagarin, UPI
1964—
Alabama: AP, Berryman, Litkenhous, UPI
Arkansas: Billingsley, Football Research, FW, Helms, National Championship Foundation, Poling
Michigan: Dunkel
Notre Dame: DeVold, FB News, NFF, Sagarin
1961—
Alabama: AP, Berryman, Billingsley, DeVold, Dunkel, FB News, Football Research, Helms, Litkenhous, National Championship Foundation, NFF, Sagarin, UPI, Williamson
Ohio St.: FW, Poling
1941—
Alabama: Houlgate
Minnesota: AP, Billingsley, Boand, DeVold, Dunkel, Football Research, Helms, Litkenhous, National Championship Foundation, Poling
Texas: Berryman, Williamson
1934—
Alabama: Dunkel, Houlgate, Poling, Williamson
Minnesota: Billingsley, Boand, Dickinson, Football Research, Helms, Litkenhous, National Championship Foundation
1930—
Alabama: Football Research, Parke Davis
Notre Dame: Billingsley, Boand, Dickinson, Dunkel, Helms, Houlgate, National Championship Foundation, Parke Davis, Poling
1926—
Alabama: Billingsley, Football Research, Helms, National Championship Foundation, Poling
Lafayette: Parke Davis
Navy: Boand, Houlgate
Stanford: Dickinson, Helms, National Championship Foundation
1925—
Alabama: Billingsley, Boand, Football Research, Helms, Houlgate, National Championship Foundation, Poling
Dartmouth: Dickinson, Parke Davis

Other championships (not claimed by the University or its fans):
1977

Alabama: Football Research
Arkansas: FACT
Notre Dame: AP, Billingsley, DeVold, Dunkel, FACT, FB News, Football Research, FW, Helms, Matthews, National Championship Foundation, NFF, Poling, Sagarin, Sporting News, UPI
Texas: Berryman, FACT
1975
Alabama: Matthews
Arizona St.: National Championship Foundation, Sporting News
Ohio St.: Berryman, FACT, Helms, Matthews, Poling
Oklahoma: AP, Billingsley, DeVold, Dunkel, FACT, FB News, Football Research, FW, Helms, National Championship Foundation, NFF, Sagarin, UPI
1966
Alabama: Berryman
Michigan St.: Football Research, Helms, NFF, Poling
Notre Dame: AP, Billingsley, DeVold, Dunkel, FB N e w s , FW, Helms, Litkenhous, Matthews, National Championship Foundation, NFF, Poling, Sagarin, UPI
1962
Alabama: Billingsley
LSU: Berryman
Southern California: AP, Berryman, DeVold, Dunkel, FB News, Football Research, FW, Helms, National Championship Foundation, NFF, Poling, Sagarin, UPI, Williamson
Mississippi: Litkenhous
1945
Alabama: National Championship Foundation
Army: AP, Berryman, Billingsley, Boand, DeVold, Dunkel, Football Research, Helms, Houlgate, Litkenhous, National Championship Foundation, Poling, Sagarin, Williamson

 

About some of the championship selectors:
Associated Press — 1936-current. Poll of sportswriters and broadcasters.

Davis — 1889-1935; chosen by Park H. Davis, a Princeton player in 1889 and a coach at Wisconsin, Amherst and Lafayette, and first published in the 1934 Spalding’s Football Guide.

Dickinson System — 1924-40. Chosen by University of Illinois economics professor Frank G. Dickinson; based on system awarding various point totals for wins over teams with winning or non-winning records.

Dunkel — 1929-current. A power index rating system devised by Dick Dunkel and syndicated to newspapers around the country.

Football Writers Association of America — 1954-current. Chosen by committee representing membership.

Helms — 1889-current. Originally founded as Helms Athletic Foundation and changed in the early 1970s to Citizen Savings Athletic Foundation before current name adopted in 1981.

Football Annual — 1924-41. A highly popular magazine published by William F. Boand. Actual name of publication was Illustrated Football Annual.

Litkenhous — 1934-current. A difference by score method syndicated by Fred Litkenhous and his brother Edward.

National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame — 1959-current. Chosen annually by committee representing membership.

Football Thesaurus — 1927-58. A system devised by Duke Houlgate and published until 1958.

United Press International — 1950-1990. Poll of college coaches.

Williamson System — 1932-63; system of syndicated power ratings by Paul Williamson, a geologist and member of the Sugar Bowl Committee.

Sporting News — 1975-current. A highly popular sports weekly tabloid.

New York Times Computer — 1979-current. Picked by input into Times computer.

USA Today/CNN — 1982-current. Picked by panel of coaches selected by this newspaper.

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