BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The following is a commentary from WBRC FOX6 Sports Anchor Rick Karle:
You've heard it before: sometimes you don't know what you have until it's gone. As we head into the Tide and Tiger's season openers, I'm here to help you take a step back, to realize the kind of football success that rivals any in the long history of Alabama and Auburn football.
Since 2009, our state has virtually owned the sport (sorry Urban), and as long as coaches Saban and Malzahn keep it going, we could be enjoying many more years of great football.
Take a look at the big Tide and Tiger pictures. There have been some rocky times, from probations, to Auburn's "Jet Gate", to Bama's "Mike & Mike & Mike" dramas (that would be Dubose, Shula and Price). But the over the last six years? Dare I say it? It's rollin' baby, as these two teams have turned in streaks of success that match or surpass those under great coaches like Paul Bryant and Shug Jordan. Let me crunch some numbers for you and offer up what I think are some of the most successful streaks in Alabama and Auburn football history.
Alabama 1931-1938 (Coach Frank Thomas)
64-8, 3 SEC championships
Alabama 1961-66 (Coach Paul Bryant)
60-5, 3 national championships, 4 SEC titles
Auburn 1969-1972 (Coach Shug Jordan)
36-8, 1 Heisman winner (Pat Sullivan)
Alabama 1971-1980 (Coach Paul Bryant)
107-13, 3 national championships, 8 SEC titles
Auburn 1983-1989 (Coach Pat Dye)
67-16, 3 SEC titles, 1 Heisman winner (Bo Jackson)
Alabama 1991-1996 (Coach Gene Stallings)
63-11-1, 1 national championship (8 wins later forfeited after Langham probation ruling)
Auburn 1993-1997 (Coach Terry Bowden)
46-12, 2 SEC titles, 1993-94 ineligible
Auburn 2002-2006 (Coach Tommy Tuberville)
50-14, 6 straight Iron Bowl wins
No doubt there have been some impressive win streaks over the years, headlined by the decade of the seventies in which Coach Bryant's teams went an amazing 107-13 with 8 SEC titles and 3 national championships. But I'm here to tell you, my friend, that we are living in the moment of Tide and Tigers football. While in years past one program would be up while another was down (witness Tuberville's 6 straight Iron Bowl wins), these days it's a coin flip.
Just think about it. Over the five of the last six seasons, either the Tide or the Tigers have played in the national championship game, and last fall, Bama played in the Final Four. The teams combined? Four national championships, a national championship runner-up and a Final Four berth. Two Heisman winners (Mark Ingram, Cam Newton), a third place Heisman finisher (Amari Cooper), and this season, both teams in the pre-season top six. And the final rankings over the last six years?
2009: #1 Alabama
2010: #2 Auburn
2011: #1 Alabama
2012: #1 Alabama
2013: #2 Auburn
2014: #3 Alabama
Pretty strong, eh? And the records boasted by the Tide and Tiger heads coaches?
Alabama 2009-2014 (Coach Nick Saban)
72-9, 3 national championships, 3 SEC titles, one Final Four berth, 1 Heisman winner, 4-2 record vs Auburn
Auburn 2013-2014 (Coach Gus Malzahn)
20-7, 1 national championship runner-up, 1 SEC title, groomed one Heisman winner (2010), 1-1 vs Alabama, and the greatest play in Iron Bowl history.
While you can argue that Coach Bryant's 1970's run was unprecedented, I have to argue that we are smack dab in the middle of the greatest Tide and Tigers rivalry streak in the team's history. Coach Saban has Coach Malzahn frustrated for putting up 630 yards and 44 points in the 2014 Iron Bowl yet losing, while Coach Malzahn has Coach Saban wondering what tricks Malzahn will have up his offensive sleeves when the big game shifts to Jordan-Hare Stadium this fall. It's exactly what we want, exactly what we need as he head into what will be a huge season for both teams.
Regardless of which team is your favorite, we can be proud of both teams (until the Iron Bowl, when all bets are off). But before those kickoffs this weekend, just be sure to take a moment to step back from the excitement and appreciate the enjoyment these teams have given us over the last six years.
Of course, we will discuss more Saturday morning at 10 a.m. on Tide & Tigers Today with former All-SEC performers Roger Shultz and Tommy Jackson. See ya then!