On a fall Saturday in Western Alabama, you have two choices; watch some college football or Roll Damn Tide. There is no alternative. Tuscaloosa, Alabama, ranks seventh on our Top 100 College Football Towns of America Countdown.
To celebrate 100 days until the start of the college football season, HERO Sports is counting down the Top 100 FBS College Football Towns in America. Each day, through Aug. 24, a new city will be revealed. We will analyze the city, the program, the good and bad of the city as well as the bottom line. If you got a problem, @me on Twitter.
7. Tuscaloosa, Alabama — Alabama
[credit]Alabama replaces 11 starters, but the question remains; Can anyone stop the Crimson Tide? (Photo: Alabama Athletics) [/credit]
To put it bluntly, Alabama is the greatest program in college football history.
The Crimson Tide owns 17 national titles, the most in the FBS. They have won 891 games (that does not include 29 wins taken off the board for various reasons) headed into the 2018 season–ranking fifth among FBS teams–while playing fewer games than everyone ranked ahead of them. Arguably, the two greatest coaches in college football history roamed the sidelines in Tuscaloosa, Bear Bryant and Nick Saban.
Alabama has dominated the SEC for almost the entirety of the conference. 'Bama holds the conference record with 30 conference titles, 12 SEC West Division crowns and 11 appearances in the SEC Championship Game. Alabama holds a winning record against every current and former SEC school.
There is a lot more where that came from, and the benchmarks to prove it. The Tide have had 64 postseason bowl appearances, 23 winning streaks of 10 games or more, 19 seasons with a 10–0 start. The program has 34 seasons with 10 wins or more and has 40 bowl victories. Alabama has completed 10 undefeated seasons, 9 of which were perfect seasons. From 1959-2003, Alabama was ranked every season. The Tide have been ranked first in the AP Poll every season over the last decade, at some point in the season, and will probably be ranked first to start 2018.
Saban will once again reload this season. 12 players were taken in the NFL Draft, 11 of them were starters. Despite that loss, they come into the year with something rarely seen in Tuscaloosa, a quarterback controversy. Both Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts could start for the majority of FBS schools, and yet it is still unknown who will be the starter. While early signs point to Tagovailoa, nothing can be for certain with Saban.
Running back Damien Harris ran for 1,000 yards in each of the last two seasons and heads a strong group of backs who will carry the load. They will be especially productive with four out of the five starting offensive linemen returning from last season.
On the defensive side of the ball, the entire defensive backfield is gone, yet with loads of talent in Tuscaloosa, it should not take long for the dominant Alabama defense to find its way. More than likely, leading to another College Football Playoff berth.
Make no doubt about it, this city is fueled by the Crimson Tide. Bryant Denny Stadium towers above the skyline like a shrine at the Bear-Saban altar. Drive in to "Druid City" during football season and the town is pulsating. No place seems to capture that vibration more than "The Strip." On Game Day, University Boulevard becomes ground zero for revelers to partake in the communal birth rite of arbitrarily yelling "Roll Damn Tide" as if it were a mild case of Tourette's while holding a Yellow Hammer. On big games, it can look like this.
During the week, "The Strip" looks more like your typical main roadway near a college campus. A mixture of franchises and mom-and-pop restaurant, stores and bars line the streets and greet you with a smile like any good Southerner was taught.
If you need a break from yelling "Roll Damn Tide" until your voice gets hoarse, Lake Tuscaloosa, The Riverwalk and The Cliffs can all take you away and make you forget that the Crimson Tide runeth over in these parts.
The Football. The Football is so good, that it is starting to seem unfair. It has been 11 years since Alabama did not win 10 games or more. During that time, 'Bama has more national titles than seasons with two-or-more losses.
Sometimes the football gets taken a little bit too seriously. Like the time, some idiotic fanatic poisoned 130-year-old oak trees at famed Toomer's Corner in Auburn after an Iron Bowl win and ultimately a national championship for the Tide.
Come watch history as the most dominant program ever lays waste to team after team. Roll Damn Tide.