SEC vs. SEC, No apologies, I loved it!

Travis Normand
January 8, 2018

Final (OT), Alabama 26 and Georgia 23. This post is not a national championship game re-cap, it’s not completely about Nick Saban, and it’s not a 2017 season in review. If anything, it might be a little bit of all of the above, as well as my immediate reaction to the Alabama vs. Georgia championship game. I consider this my farewell message to the 2017 college football season and my contemplations after tonight’s championship game. 

Tonight the Crimson Tide picked up their fifth national championship in nine seasons, their 17th overall (depending on who you ask), and Nick Saban’s sixth (five at Alabama and one at LSU; tie-ing Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant for the most national championships during the poll era, or post 1936).

Over the past week, ever since Alabama won the Sugar Bowl and Georgia won the Rose Bowl, there has been a lot of talk about whether it is “good” for the game of college football to have an all-SEC national championship game. If you know me, you know that I am not the biggest advocate of using a playoff to determine the national champion of college football. This puts me in the minority, as most people favor a playoff. Further, most people grew tired of the old system where “we” selected the national champion (especially under the BCS system where “we” tried to manipulate which teams would get selected to play for a national championship).

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2016 Texas A&M vs. Alabama: The history and connections between the schools

by Travis Normand
October 19, 2016

[If this post reads like a Facebook fan posting, that is because it is.  I originally posted this on Facebook as a fun informational type of fan post.  However, due to the response I got, I figured I would share it here as well.  I have modified it slightly from the original Facebook post.]

In honor of this weekend’s game between No. 6 Texas A&M and No. 1 Alabama, I am posting some random facts that connect the two schools together. Plus, I made a similar post before the A&M vs. Tennessee game, and we saw how that ended up.

One of the most obvious connections between Texas A&M and Alabama is that of famed Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant who was the head football coach at Texas A&M from 1954 to 1957.  Bryant attended Alabama where he played football from 1933 to 1935.

Bryant’s 1954 season was his first at A&M. He started the ’54 season with a training camp in Junction, Texas. The camp was extremely tough and the players from that camp were given the nickname of the “Junction Boys.” Bryant’s first A&M squad finished 1-9 in 1954, while his 1956 squad won the Southwest Conference (SWC) Championship.

In 1957, Texas A&M running back John David Crow won the Heisman Trophy and became the first and only player to win the award while playing for coach Bryant. John David Crow would end up coaching at Alabama from 1969 to 1971 under Bear Bryant before returning to A&M as an athletic director.

At the end of the 1957 season, Bryant left A&M to become the head coach at Alabama. Bryant’s final game at A&M was a loss in the 1957 Gator Bowl to Tennessee.

A&M and Alabama first met on the gridiron at the end of the 1941 season. The Aggies were SWC champions but lost to Alabama, 29-21 in the Cotton Bowl.

The Aggies and Crimson Tide would not play again until the January 1968 Cotton Bowl (at the end of the 1967 season). The Aggies were SWC champions again and were able to even the series with Alabama at 1-1.

The 1968 Cotton Bowl featured a significant connection between the schools, other than the Aggie victory.  Bear Bryant was the head coach of Alabama, while Gene Stallings was the head coach of A&M. Stallings had been a player at A&M under coach Bryant and was one of the “Junction Boys.” After playing football at A&M, Stallings had been a defensive assistant under Bryant at Alabama from 1958-1964. However, in 1965 Stallings returned to A&M as head coach of the Aggies, where he eventually defeated his mentor in the 1968 Cotton Bowl.

Gene Stallings and Bear Bryant, 1968 Cotton Bowl

Gene Stallings and Bear Bryant, 1968 Cotton Bowl

At the conclusion of the game, Stallings’ Aggies had defeated Bryant’s Crimson Tide 20-16. The coaches met at mid-field, and in what can be described as a truly proud moment, Bryant hoisted Stallings onto his shoulder and carried him off the field.

Stallings later returned to Alabama as head coach in 1990 and won the first SEC championship game (and thus an SEC championship), as well as a National Championship, in 1992.  In doing so, Stallings became the second member of Texas A&M’s Association of Former Students to win a conference and national title at a school that is currently a member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) (Robert Neyland was the first at Tennessee).

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Roll Tide, War Eagle [Short Film]

by Travis Normand

Film Summary from ESPN.com

There are many great rivalries in sports: Yankees-Red Sox, Michigan-Ohio State, North Carolina-Duke. But they don’t compare to the venomous and consuming in-state college football rivalry that is Alabama-Auburn. With no pro sports, the state of Alabama centers around one game in the year: The annual meeting between the two universities called the “Iron Bowl.” And you could not script what has transpired in the state in the past two years.

On the field, each school celebrated a national title, Heisman Trophy winner and Iron Bowl win. Outside the lines, the rivalry has taken a twisted turn, with a stunning tale of poisoned trees and a historic force of mother nature that brought both sides of this split state together.

This one-hour film takes you on an unpredictable and unforgettable journey through the history of bad blood that runs between the two programs — all told through the eyes of the school’s Hall of Fame icons, the controversial figures that launched this rivalry into the national spotlight, all the way down to its passionate roots — the fans.

For more, click HERE.

The film is also available at Amazon.com