15 Things Alabama Doesn't Want You To Know About Their Football Program

Here are 15 Things That Alabama Doesn't Want You To Know About Their Football Program.

When you're the king, everyone likes to see you knocked off your throne.

So it's no wonder that many college football fans outside of the deep south were pleased as punch when the Alabama Crimson Tide were defeated in a thrilling college football finale by Clemson. In the same vein as the Yankees or the Patriots, some sports fans are getting tired of seeing the Tide just keep on rolling.

Their 15 NCAA titles are more championships than any other school in history has earned. Their simple red-and-white uniforms and numbered helmets are as iconic as any image in the game's history. And, Bear Bryant still remains the symbol of hard-assed coaching excellence.

However, over the years, the Tide has had more than their fair share of criticism due to various scandals surrounding the program. SEC fans have cried foul over several infractions that they say give their conference rival a leg up on the competition.

With that in mind, here are 15 Things That Alabama Doesn't Want You To Know About Their Football Program:

15 The Incident at Toomer's Corner


Normally, it's not fair to label a team based on the crazy things that their fan base does. But in certain extreme cases, that theory simply gets choked to death.

When maniacal superfan Harvey Updyke Jr. decided to send a message to Auburn nation prior to the 2011 Iron Bowl, he took life and death into his own hands. This gridiron goof decided that the ultimate 'prank' would be to poison the famed trees on Auburn's Toomer Corner.

Not satisfied with his dastardly deed, the idiot then decided to gloat about it. Updyke phoned into popular SEC broadcaster Paul Finebaum's radio show and confessed to using toxin on the peace-loving plants. Posing as caller "Al," Updyke gave plenty of details, including the specific type of poison he had used.

The authorities were alerted, and soil samples showed the story to be factual. Police would later trace the phone call to Updyke's home.

Updyke confessed to the crime and was sentenced to time served as well as five-years of supervised probation. The trees were eventually given the death penalty, as they had to be taken down months later due to the damage of this dastardly deed. They were replaced by two new oaks in 2015.

14 Cyrus and the 2015 Virus

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama cornerback Cyrus Jones was arrested on domestic violence charges in Tuscaloosa when he allegedly damaged a woman’s cellphone and threatening her on April 28, 2015.

He was charged with two misdemeanors: third-degree harassment and third-degree criminal mischief, and later pled guilty to lesser charges.

We don’t ever condone any behavior that shows any kind of disrespect,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said at the time.

Cyrus wasn't alone when spreading a virus throughout the Tide roster in 2015. Defensive lineman Jonathan Taylor was dismissed from school after a domestic violence arrest and running back Tyren Jones was let go after an arrest for marijuana possession. Shortly before that, safety Geno Smith had been arrested for allegedly driving drunk.

So, maybe it wasn't Jones' fault. It seems that, in general, the 2015 Crimson Tide had its fair share of bad soldiers.

13 Putting a Hurt on a Heisman Reputation

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Less than two weeks ago, former Crimson Tide Heisman trophy winner Trent Richardson didn't represent the program very well.

On February 16th, he was picked up on a domestic battery charge, putting another black eye on a program that has had its share of incidents involving current and former athletes. Coach Nick Saban seems to have a soft spot for guys who hand out black eyes.

Richardson and an adult female were involved in a domestic altercation in their hotel room. When police arrived, Richardson was cooperative, but there were allegedly signs of a struggle.

The police call was originally made to the hotel, when a guest said they could hear the disturbance from the hall. However, officers determined during interviews that the two had been arguing earlier while at the Walmart. No word on if there was a call for a clean-up on aisle nine.

12 The Myth of the 1925 National Championship


The Friends of the Elephant have long trumpeted their team's standing was the top football school by pointing to its 16 national titles. The school claims to have more gridiron crowns than any other school, but that history is a bit muddled.

For example, Alabama claims a share of the 1925 title with Dartmouth... but, only after the fact. At the conclusion of the football season, there was no mention of The Tide as being the rightful placeholder. That is, until Houlgate came along.

The Houlgate ranking system was established in 1927. So, in essence, they retroactively gave the Tide this title, a full two years after the 1925 season. Critics call this one of many 'phantom titles' that the school has used to puff up their championship resume.

11 Another fix in '26


Alabama also claims they share this one with three other teams with equal or better records. In what has become an effort of many schools, not just Alabama, the school's information department has taken advantage of the ratings system once again.

As college football expanded in popularity during the '3os and '40s, many different systems were being used to write the history of the sport. Between the sportswriters and athletic foundations, many championships were handed out in an effort to preserve posterity and the lineage of the sport.

The Helms Athletic Foundation (founded in 1941) was the athletic body that awarded Alabama this title. Except in this case, it was a four-way tie, and Alabama didn't lay claim to this mythical championship until 15 years after the final whistle was blown.

10 The 2002 Pay-for-Play Scandal


In February of 2002, the program received five years probation, including a two-year postseason ban, because of a recruiting scandal in which boosters were accused of paying money to potential recruits.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association said it had considered giving the Crimson Tide the so-called death penalty, under which a sports program is eliminated because of repeated rules violations. The Tide were already on this ice after having served out a three year program probation stemming from violations that occurred in 1995.

''They were absolutely staring down the barrel of a gun,'' Thomas Yeager, chairman of the infractions committee, said at the time.

It may be hard for college football fans to even fathom now, but at one time, the sport's most dominant program nearly went extinct. Luckily for the loyal followers of the Tide, the NCAA didn't put the Elephant down.

9 Second Chance Saban

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Saban has been criticized in the past for giving players perhaps too many chances. For a sometimes stringent college coach, a little flexibility can go a long way. Curfew violations or missed practices are one thing, but at times, the Tide coach has reached out further.

Such was the case with defensive lineman D.J. Pettway who got a second opportunity from Saban after being dismissed from the program and suspended in 2013 after he was arrested for second-degree robbery.

After spending a year at East Mississippi Community College, Pettway returned to Alabama and eventually graduated from the University. Not much was made of his criminal history upon his return. While this turned out to be a victory in the long run, critics have often knocked Saban's decision-making in bringing the star defender back in the first place.

8 Nowhere NEAR Number One in '41


At the conclusion of the 1941 football season, the Associated Press ranked Alabama 20th in the nation this season. The Tide finished the year at 9-2, with 14 teams having better records ranked ahead of them. So, how does the school and alumni claim this as a national championship?

In much the same ways they came up with titles in 1925 and 1926. Once again, it is the Football Thesaurus that retroactively awards the Tide this title. Alabama finished third in the SEC that year, while Mississippi State won the SEC title.

Due to this revisionist history, the Tide has essentially added three fictional championships to their claim of 16 overall. And, while several other schools have done the same, Alabama is much different. They are viewed as one of the most storied programs of all time, so why do they find the need to invent titles that don't exist?

7 Saban Gets Swerved

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Saban has been criticized in the past for giving players perhaps too many chances. For a sometimes stringent college coach, a little flexibility can go a long way. Curfew violations or missed practices are one thing, but at times, the Tide coach has reached out further.

In 2015, Jonathan Taylor was warmly welcomed with domestic violence charges pending and after being booted from the Georgia football team.

Taylor barely touched down in Tuscaloosa before a new domestic violence arrest occurred during spring practice. His dismissal quickly followed, and he took another football flyer when he enrolled at Southeastern Louisiana.

6 A Means to an End

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

In early 2001, after rumors circulated on internet chat rooms, Memphis newspaper, The Commercial Appeal, reports that a Tide booster paid a high school coach $200,000 to deliver top recruit Albert Means to Alabama. By February, the school receives a preliminary letter of inquiry from the NCAA.

Six months later, Federal grand jurors in Memphis indict former Trezevant High School head coach Lynn Lang and former assistant Milton Kirk on charges of trying to sell Means to seven schools (including 'Bama).

Seven days later, Alabama receives five years probation, including a two-year postseason ban, because of a recruiting scandal in which boosters were accused of paying money for prep players.

5 A Short-Lived Celebration

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Led by coach Gene Stallings, Alabama defeated Miami 34-13 in the Sugar Bowl to finish 13-0 and win the 1992 National Championship. It was the Tide's the first since the Bear Bryant’s era in 1979, and it started the now 25-year upturn of the Alabama program.

Since then, 'Bama has established itself as THE number one football team in the nation perennially. But that big title win didn't come without its share of controversy.

Following the title victory, star defensive back Antonio Langham signs with a sports agent, but the underclassman decides to stay at Alabama. The wave of investigations that followed would ripple through the program leading all the way up to the Nick Saban era.

4 First-Time Offenders


Receiving its first-ever NCAA penalty, Alabama is placed on probation for three years, banned from a bowl appearance, loses 26 scholarships over three years and forfeits eight victories from the 1993 season.

On the heels of the Antonio Langham agent inquiry, investigators discovered several smaller infractions in an inquiry that stretched from 1993-95.

Coach Stallings, one of Bear Bryant's original 'Junction Boys,' lamented the punishment at the time. Eventually, the NCAA itself added more fuel to the controversy, when they somewhat overruled themselves.

Just six months later the NCAA appeals committee sides with Alabama, lifting one year of probation and restoring nine scholarships. Stallings would leave the program a year later.

3 The DuBose Debacle


In May, 1999  then-Head Coach Mike DuBose holds a news conference to address allegations of improper conduct with a former secretary. He initially denies the charges, only later to reverse course, admitting his denial was intentionally misleading.

The school pays $360,000 to settle the woman’s sexual harassment claim. Around the same time, they also give DuBose a two-year contract extension after his Tide tramples Florida, 34-7, to capture 'Bama's first Southeastern Conference football title in seven seasons..

A year later, DuBose resigns and coaches his last game, an uninspiring 9-0 loss to Auburn. The Tide would finish 3-8 that year, its worst season in four decades.

2 Bo Must Go


As recently as last spring, rumors began swirling that the Tide dismissed defensive line coach Bo Davis following an internal investigation into recruiting issues. As details emerged, it appeared the coach was sunk for being a little too chummy with high school athletes.

The entire affair was kept quiet in its initial stages, but stories emerged that Davis had been a repeat offender, and had even been counselled by the Saban and other members of the Alabama coaching staff.

Davis apparently fell victim to college football's "bump rule".

The NCAA defines this as a is a brief meeting between a college coach and a prospect that occurs by happenstance. During those "chance" encounters, a coach is supposed to do nothing more than be cordial, without actively pitching their respective university.

Davis bumped some underclassmen at a Texas high school, and someone turned him in. Because he gave initially tried to cover up the story, he was let go. Davis sat out of football for a season before landing the head coaching job at the University of Texas-San Antonio recently on January 21, 2017.

1 The Bear's Beliefs


Standing as perhaps the greatest symbol of the history of Alabama football, the shadow of Bear Bryant still looms large over the program. Even nearly forty years after his passing, fans still talk about doing things 'Bear's way'.

The team that plays in a stadium partially named after him would look a little odd to The Bear, however. Today's roster is comprised of several players that Bryant, himself, might not have recruited personally.

In 1970, Alabama was one of the few football programs that had an all-white roster. Bryant argued with critics who said he was a racist by saying he didn't recruit African-American player because the social climate of the time didn't allow it. Behind the scenes, however, Bryant was often cited as using racial slurs.

And, it made sense to the coach at that time. Bryant was born and raised in the depression-era south, where he was exposed to deep seeded racism.

The major turning point came in 1970 when Alabama faced the USC Trojans in Birmingham. Southern Cal tailback Sam Cunningham (brother of NFL quarterback Randall) ran wild as the Trojans smashed the Tide, 42-21. After that season Alabama was forced to recruit black players in order to stay competitive with other schools.

Many say that the old Bear throwing up his hands and giving in to desegregation was the most important moment in college football. As if the last color barrier in football resided underneath a checkered cap in Tuscaloosa.

Next fall, Alabama will surely be sitting at or near the top of the pre-season standings. Some will wonder just how they do it. And others will know a few of the dirty little secrets that may help them stay at that elite level.

Whatever your opinion, it's certainly true that the program has had a laundry list of things that the school might not necessarily be proud of.

Just how dirty that laundry is... has yet to be determined.

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15 Things Alabama Doesn't Want You To Know About Their Football Program