Daily Dose of Crimson Tide: The 1930 National Champions

Christopher Walsh

Alabama’s breakthrough years of 1925-26, which resulted in Rose Bowl appearances and celebrated national championships, were difficult to reproduce over the next three seasons, much to the chagrin of fans who had suddenly become accustomed to the program’s winning ways.

The 1927 season ended with losses to Florida, Georgia and Vanderbilt for a disappointing 5-4-1 record. That was followed by 6-3 years in 1928, and 1929, which became best known for the first game played at Legion Field in Birmingham, while Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa was dedicated September 28, 1929. Its initial seating capacity was 12,000.

Growing increasingly discontent, while simultaneously being targeted by other schools offering a significant raise in salary, Coach Wallace Wade turned in his resignation near the end of the 1929 season, but agreed to stay on for the final year of his contract before heading to Duke. 

Clyde Bolton of the Birmingham News called it the “greatest swan song in the history of football.”

Wallace Wade hands a ball to his successor, Frank Thomas
Bryant Museum

Alabama opened the season with a 43-0 victory against Howard and backed it up with two more shutouts, 64-0 against Ole Miss and 25-0 vs. Sewanee. An 18-6 win against Tennessee and a 12-7 victory vs. Vanderbilt had the Crimson Tide 5-0, and it had already yielded the only points Alabama would allow all season.

A 13-0 victory against Georgia meant both a perfect regular season and another Southern Conference championship, resulting in the third Rose Bowl invitation, this time to play Washington State. Even though the national championship was at stake, Wade started his second stringers, like he had done previously that season, leaving his best players on the bench until the second quarter when the opposing players began to wear down (it was as much a psychological ploy as physical).

Washington State held its own against the backups, but not against the Crimson Tide starters, and Alabama easily won 24-0. Everyone got into the game and Wade, who was carried off the field by his players, concluded his Alabama career with a 61-13-3 record and third national title.

John “Monk” Campbell” was named the most valuable player of the Rose Bowl. Halfback John Henry Suther was named All-American while guard John Miller and sophomore fullback John Cain were All-Southern Conference selections.

Wrote Royal Brougham of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: “Out of the sunny southland came another great Alabama football team and it hit a bewildered Cougar from Washington State like a jug of Dixie gin. By a 24-to-0 score the banjo-plucking, mammy singing troubadours from the land of cotton won the annual Rose Bowl classic, and they were that much the better team. The vaunted defense of the western champions crumpled like the walls of Jericho before an amazing pass attack which caught the northmen flat on their heels.

“The Bammers unleashed a passing and cleverly masked running offense which the canny Coach Wade kept stored in the cooler all season long. And before it the touted cougars were just corn bone and possum pie. That freckled-necked southern gentleman who coaches the Tide won today’s game with his noodle, and don’t let anybody tell you different. Wade sat out there on the bench and outfigured the lads from the northwest all afternoon long.”

The 1930 Crimson Tide

10-0, national champions, Southern Conference champions)

Sept. 27 Howard,  Tuscaloosa,  W 43-0

Oct. 4 Ole Miss,  Tuscaloosa,  W 64-0

Oct. 11 Sewanee,  Birmingham,  W 25-0

Oct. 18 Tennessee,  Tuscaloosa,  W 18-6

Oct. 25 Vanderbilt,  Birmingham,  W 12-7

Nov. 1 Kentucky,  Lexington,  W 19-0

Nov. 8 Florida,  Gainesville,  W 20-0

Nov. 15 LSU,  Montgomery,  W 33-0

Nov. 27 Georgia,  Birmingham, W 13-0

Jan. 1, 1931 Washington State,  Rose Bowl, W 24-0

Total points: 271-13

Coach: Wallace Wade

Captain: Charles B. Clement

All-American: First team _ John Henry Suther, halfback; Fred Sington, tackle. Second team _ Johnny Cain, halfback.

All-Southern Conference: Fred Sington, tackle; John Henry Suther, back; John Miller, guard; Johnny Cain, back.

Some of this post originated from "100 Things Crimson tide Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die," published by Triumph Books