Alabama SI Cover Tournament Final: Dynasty vs. That Championship Season
There have been 46 matchups, resulting in the same number of eliminations.
Plenty of upsets as none of the top seeds advanced.
A Final Four featuring four very different national champions.
But only one can win the whole thing.
We asked our readers to help us determine the best Alabama Sports Illustrated cover of all-time, and for the past couple of months you've done just that. Now it's time to pick the winner.
The final matchup includes Dynasty, featuring Alabama's win over Texas at the Rose Bowl to win Nick Saban's first national title with the Crimson Tide. The headline was considered gutsy at the time, because generally a team has to win three championships before it can be tagged with that label. Three years later, Alabama confirmed that status.
It's up against That Championship Season featuring the 1992 national champions ... who didn't appear on the subsequent cover of Sports Illustrated.
With the game played in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, the next issue wasn't due to hit newsstands until more than a week later, which was deemed too long to still be fresh, so the decision was made to go with Jim Valvano's fight with cancer.
Thus, the creation of commemorative editions.
Both special issues are included here, Gene Stallings and Derrick Lassic. It's a dual-cover entry.
This is the final pairing of BamaCentral's 48-field single-elimination tournament.
Game 47: Dynasty (2009) vs. That Championship Season (1992)
Dynasty: Can Anyone Stop Alabama?
Story headline: Staying Power
Subhead: With an earnest coach, a wealth of returning talent, unparalleled recruiting and its chief rival in flux, national champion Alabama is just starting to roll
Excerpt (by Austin Murphy): For the second time in six years the stern-looking coach stood on a stage surrounded by overjoyed athletes, holding a crystal football over his head. As Nick Saban dutifully went down the list of dignitaries he needed to thank, the expression on his face could best be described as a kind of semigrimace. At the pinnacle of his sport after leading Alabama to its first national title in 17 years—a 37-21 victory over a wounded Texas team in the BCS championship game last Thursday night at the Rose Bowl—Saban reminded us that those best equipped to win championships are often the least equipped to celebrate them.
"I guarantee you," said a smiling Terry Saban, as she watched her spouse of 38 years, "he's already thinking about next week."
Did the couple have plans? "He said he'll give me two days," Terry said, "and then he has to meet with some of the players about going out for the [NFL] draft."
Two days? "Two days," she repeated. "And I'll take it."
High Tide in Alabama
Story headline: The End of a Run
Subhead: With a resounding 34-13 Sugar Bowl victory, Alabama put a stop to Miami's 29-game winning streak and won its first national title since 1979
Excerpt (by Austin Murphy): Maybe the old man can finally get some rest. Three coaches and one decade to the month after the death of Bear Bryant, Alabama won its 12th national title and its first in 13 years. After biting their lips for a week while the Miami Hurricanes woofed and howled their contempt for the Crimson Tide, the Alabama players dominated and, perhaps more satisfying, muzzled the defending national champions with a 34-13 win in the Sugar Bowl on New Year's. Now that they can once again lay claim to college football's throne, perhaps Tide fans, who have been known to pray for Bryant's resurrection, will let the Bear lie in peace.
Pay no attention to Alabama coach Gene Stallings's stubborn refusal in the days leading up to the game to concede that his team was an underdog. This was an upset of magnificent proportions. Crimson Tide quarterback Jay Barker could not be counted on to pass his team to victory, and, in fact, he would complete only four of 13 throws for 18 yards and suffer two interceptions. Likewise, the outside running game would be an exercise in futility. As long as Jessie Armstead, Micheal Barrow and Darrin Smith have started at linebacker, no team has been able to turn the corner on Miami.
Alabama would have to run between the tackles—football's truck route—behind a smallish, undistinguished line that, until recently, 'Bama fans had maligned. At 6'3" and 250 pounds, center Tobie Sheils is slight for a major-college lineman. Left guard George Wilson shot off half of his left foot in a 1989 hunting accident. And six nights before the game, right tackle Roosevelt Patterson was verbally assaulted in the French Quarter. "You must be an offensive lineman, you fat, sloppy ——," Miami linebacker Rohan Marley had shouted at the amply padded, 290-pound Patterson.
Chalk one up for the shrimp, the gimp and the blimp. Behind them, Derrick Lassic rushed for 135 yards on 28 carries, the most yards a back gained against the Hurricanes this season. "They said we were one-dimensional," said Sheils after the game. "We are one-dimensional. Sometimes you only need one dimension."