Nov 29, 1980; Birmingham, AL, USA; FILE PHOTO; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Paul Bear Bryant on the field prior to the start of the game against the Auburn Tigers at Legion Field. Mandatory Credit: Manny Rubio-US PRESSWIRE
Looking at how well each team knows the conference's newest members
|Alabama History vs. New SEC Teams|
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Perhaps we should take a moment here to realize that something significant changed on July 1 with very little notice. For the first time in 40 years, a team was in the SEC that had a winning record against Alabama. Thing is, given the new 6-1-1 scheduling format for the conference, it will likely be more than a decade before the Tide can get above .500 against Missouri. Now we know why Nick Saban wants a nine-game schedule.
But even with that record -- and with Missouri winning a game in Birmingham as part of it -- Alabama's history is far more intertwined with Texas A&M. After all, there's the coach exchange program that two schools have basically established, though that program has been pretty lopsided in Alabama's favor.
Texas A&M actually split the two Cotton Bowls the Aggies played against the Tide, with the combined score being 45-41 for Alabama, a pretty close margin. Two regular-season games in the 1980s were not so close, with both the 1985 game in Birmingham and the 1988 game in College Station featuring double-digit Bama wins. Both of those wins game against Jackie Sherrill, who left College Station following the 1988 season.
He eventually wound up in Starkville to start the 1991 season. If he thought that facing the Tide every year might give him the insights necessary to have more success against them -- well, it depends on what you mean by "more success." After all, Sherrill did win a few against Alabama while he was at Mississippi State -- but ended up 4-9 against Alabama during his time in Starkville.
One of the more interesting transformations in the intersecting histories of the two programs is Gene Stallings. Stallings was 27-45-1 at Texas A&M; there are only three Aggies coaches who spent more than one year in College Station and ended their tenure with a worse winning percentage.
Stallings, of course, would eventually head to Tuscaloosa and win Alabama's first national title in 13 years for the Tide, the first since another former A&M coach by the name of Bear Bryant walked the sidelines at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Stallings won four division titles and conference championship to go along with the national honors in 1992 before leaving somewhat controversially after the 1996 season, with rumors saying he clashed with the new administration.
Stallings would later become one of the biggest boosters for Texas A&M joining the SEC. Maybe that exchange program didn't work out so poorly for the Aggies after all.