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1979 Alabama Crimson Tide football team

The 1979 Alabama Crimson Tide football team (variously "Alabama", "UA" or "Bama") represented the University of Alabama in the 1979 NCAA Division I-A football season. It was the Crimson Tide's 85th overall and 46th season as a member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The team was led by head coach Bear Bryant, in his 22nd year, and played their home games at Bryant–Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa and Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama. They finished the season undefeated (12–0 overall, 6–0 in the SEC) and with a victory over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl. For their collective efforts, the Crimson Tide were recognized as consensus national champions for the 1979 season.

1979 Alabama Crimson Tide football
Consensus national champion
SEC champion
Sugar Bowl champion
Sugar Bowl, W 24–9 vs. Arkansas
ConferenceSoutheastern Conference
CoachesNo. 1
APNo. 1
1979 record12–0 (6–0 SEC)
Head coachBear Bryant (22nd season)
Offensive coordinatorMal Moore
Defensive coordinatorKen Donahue
CaptainDon McNeal
CaptainSteve Whitman
Home stadiumBryant–Denny Stadium
Legion Field
← 1978
1980 →
1979 SEC football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
No. 1 Alabama $ 6 0 0     12 0 0
Georgia 5 1 0     6 5 0
No. 16 Auburn 4 2 0     8 3 0
LSU 4 2 0     7 5 0
Tennessee 3 3 0     7 5 0
Kentucky 3 3 0     5 6 0
Ole Miss 3 3 0     4 7 0
Mississippi State 2 4 0     3 8 0
Vanderbilt 0 6 0     1 10 0
Florida 0 6 0     0 10 1
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll

In 1979 the Alabama Crimson Tide capped off a decade of remarkable success with the program's seventh perfect season in college history after 1925, 1930, 1934, 1945, 1961, and 1966 (discounting the 1897 "season" in which Bama played and won only one game).[1] The Tide defense recorded five shutouts and allowed only two teams to score in double digits. The offense scored thirty points or more seven times.

Despite this dominance Alabama had three close calls. Against Tennessee on October 20, Alabama fell behind 17–0 in the second quarter before rallying to win 27–17. Three weeks later, against LSU, all the Tide offense could scrape up was a single field goal, but it was enough to win 3–0. In the regular season finale against Auburn, after leading 14–3 at the half Alabama let Auburn take an 18–17 fourth quarter lead before winning 25–18. The Auburn and Tennessee games were the only two times in the 1979 season that Alabama trailed.[2] A 24–9 victory over Arkansas capped a 12–0 season and national championship, Alabama's sixth wire service national title.



September 8at Georgia Tech*No. 2ABCW 30–657,621
September 22Baylor*No. 2W 45–077,512
September 29at VanderbiltNo. 2W 66–334,694
October 6Wichita State*No. 2W 38–051,000
October 13at FloridaNo. 2W 40–064,552
October 20No. 18 TennesseeNo. 1ESPNW 27–1777,665
October 27Virginia Tech* No. 1W 31–760,210
November 3Mississippi StateNo. 1W 24–760,210
November 10at LSUNo. 1W 3–073,708
November 17Miami (FL)*No. 1ABCW 30–054,500
December 1vs. No. 14 AuburnNo. 1W 25–1877,918
January 1, 1980vs. No. 6 Arkansas*No. 2ABCW 24–977,846
  • *Non-conference game
  •  Homecoming
  • Rankings from AP Poll released prior to the game
  • Source: 1979 Alabama football schedule[3]


1979 Alabama Crimson Tide football team roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # Name Class
OG 62 Scott Allison Jr
T 78 Buddy Aydelette Sr
OT Wiley Barnes Sr
OT 76 Thomas Boler Jr
SE David Booker Jr
OG 60 Vince Boothe Sr
OG Gary Bramblett RFr
OG 70 Mike Brock Sr
TE 83 Laurence Brown III Sr
OT 63 Jim Bunch Sr
TE Bob Cayavec RFr
SE 80 Tim Clark So
OG 67 Vince Cowell Jr
C 59 Bob Dasher RFr
RB John Dyess So
OT 79 Rusty Faust So
RB 41 Mitch Ferguson Jr
QB Pat Folmar Jr
OG Bill Glass So
QB-RB 14 Alan Gray So
RB 21 James Haney So
DB 9 Jim Bob Harris So
FB 44 John Hill Jr
RB Tim Hill So
TE-P 1 Buddy Holt Sr
RB 33 Billy Jackson Jr
RB Amos Jones So
RB 24 Joe Jones Jr
FB Bobby Johnson So
FB Mike Kennedy So
TE 87 Bart Krout So
SE 26 James Mallard Jr
SE 82 Keith Marks RFr
OT 72 Eddie McCombs Jr
OT Denny Merritt RFr
OT Jeff Miller RFr
OT Farrar Montgomery Jr
SE Clay Moss Fr
RB-DB 48 Mark Nix So
RB 42 Major Ogilvie Jr
RB-DB 29 Ben Orcutt So
RB Doug Prater Jr
SE 4 Keith Pugh Sr
QB Steve Rhoden So
C 61 Joe Robbins Jr
SE Frank Sazera Jr
OG 69 Bill Searcey Jr
QB 10 Steadman S. Shealy Sr
SE David Sherrill So
C 52 Barry Smith Sr
OT Marvin Smith So
C 57 Dwight Stephenson Sr
TE 88 Tim Travis Sr
FB 45 Steve Whitman Sr
FB 38 Charlie Williams RFr
Pos. # Name Class
DT Joe Beazley RFr
LB 90 Tom Boyd So
DT 47 Byron Braggs Jr
DB Bill Brown So
DT Danny Casteel RFr
DB 43 Mike Clements Jr
DT 98 Jackie Cline RFr
DB Prince Colley So
DT Allen Connell Jr
DE 51 Gary DeNiro Jr
DB Marvis Freeman Jr
DE Robert Gaines Fr
LB Steve Glass Fr
DE 94 Wayne Hamilton Sr
DT 74 David Hannah Sr
DE Butch Harkness Jr
DB 37 Greg Haynes RFr
DB Josh Henderson RFr
DT 93 Scott Homan RFr
LB James Hughes So
DT 95 Mike Inman Jr
DB, QB 5 Don Jacobs Jr
LB 97 Robbie Jones RFr
DE 39 E. J. Junior Jr
DE John Lancaster Jr
DB Greg Landers Fr
DB 57 Eddie Lowe So
NG 91 Warren Lyles So
DB Bobby Marks RSo
DE 84 John Mauro Jr
LB David McCarty So
DT 96 Curtis McGriff Sr
DB 28 Don McNeal Sr
DB 23 Benny Perrin So
DE 81 Mike Pitts RFr
DB 16 David Reeves So
DB Bill Robinson So
DB David Rogers So
LB 36 Ricky Rozzell RFr
DE Roy Rumbley So
LB 50 Randy Scott Jr
NG 99 Richard Shinn So
DB 49 Bobby Smith Sr
DB Peter Smith Jr
DB 27 Tom Spencer Jr
DB 7 Jerrill Sprinkle RFr
DE John Theis So
DB 18 Ricky Tucker Jr
DB 15 Tommy Wilcox RFr
Special teams
Pos. # Name Class
PK Johnny Brooker So
P Butch Bunn Jr
PK George Mardini So
PK 6 Alan McElroy Sr
P 2 Woody Umphrey Jr
Head coach
Coordinators/assistant coaches
  • Mal Moore (Offensive coordinator / quarterbacks)
  • Ken Donahue (Defensive coordinator)
  • Sylvester Croom (Inside linebackers)
  • K. J. Lazenby
  • Bobby Marks
  • Bill Oliver (Defensive backs)
  • Bryant Pool
  • Dee Powell
  • Jeff Rouzie
  • Jack Rutledge
  • George "Shorty" White
  • Perry Willis[4]

  • (C) Team captain
  • (S) Suspended
  • (I) Ineligible
  •   Injured
  •   Redshirt

Last update: October 15, 2013

Game summariesEdit

Georgia TechEdit

1 234Total
#2 Alabama 6 6153 30
Georgia Tech 0 006 6

As they entered the 1979 season, Alabama was ranked as the No. 2 team in the first AP Poll prior to their season opener against Georgia Tech. Playing before a nationally televised audience, the Crimson Tide rushed for over 300 yards in this 30–6 victory over the Yellow Jackets.[5][6] Alabama took a 6–0 lead in the first quarter after E. J. Junior intercepted a Mike Kelley pass and returned it 59-yards for a touchdown. Major Ogilvie then extended their lead to 12–0 with his one-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter.[5][6]

The Crimson Tide took control of the game with a pair of third quarter touchdowns that extended their lead to 27–0. Steve Whitman scored first on a thirteen-yard run and this was followed by an eleven-yard Steadman S. Shealy touchdown run.[5][6] After a late Gary DeNiro interception set up a 31-yard Alan McElroy field goal, Georgia Tech scored on a 36-yard Kelley touchdown pass to Leon Chadwick that made the final score 30–6 and prevented a shutout.[5][6] The victory improved Alabama's all-time record against Georgia Tech to 25–19–3.[7]


1 234Total
Baylor 0 000 0
#2 Alabama 6 8328 45
  • Date: September 22
  • Location: Legion Field
    Birmingham, Alabama
  • Game attendance: 77,512

Coming off their bye week, Alabama was still ranked as the No. 2 team in the AP Poll prior to their home opener against Baylor.[10] Playing at Legion Field, the Crimson Tide shutout the Bears of the Southwest Conference 45–0 in what was the first all-time meeting between the schools.[8][9][11] After taking a 6–0 lead on a pair of Alan McElroy field goals, Alabama led 14–0 at halftime after Major Ogilvie scored om a one-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.[8][9] A 33-yard McElroy field goal in the third brought the Crimson Tide lead to 17–0 before Alabama scored four touchdowns in the fourth quarter and made the final score 45–0. Mark Nix scored the first pair on runs of two and eight-yards, followed by a one-yard Joe Jones run and John Hill scored the final points with his ten-yard touchdown run in the final minute of the game.[8][9]


1 234Total
#2 Alabama 14 181321 66
Vanderbilt 0 300 3
  • Date: September 29
  • Location: Dudley Field
    Nashville, Tennessee
  • Game attendance: 34,694

After their victory over Baylor, Alabama was still ranked as the No. 2 team in the AP Poll prior to their game against Vanderbilt.[14] Playing at Nashville, the Crimson Tide defeated the Commodores by a blowout score of 66–3 in the conference opener.[12][13] The Crimson Tide took a 14–0 first quarter lead behind touchdown runs of 65 and eight-yards by Steadman S. Shealy and Major Ogilvie. After Mike Woodard scored the only Vandy points with his 47-yard field goal, Alabama extended their lead to 32–3 at the half after Alan McElroy connected on a 21-yard field goal and touchdowns were scored on runs of 19 and one-yard by Shealy and Mark Nix.[12][13]

The Crimson Tide continued their strong play into the second half as they scored five touchdowns and kept the Commodores scoreless on defense. Touchdowns were scored in the third on runs of three and one-yards by Steve Whitman and Joe Jones and in the fourth on a pair of three and a 14-yard run by Jones, Michael Landrum and John Hill.[12][13] The victory improved Alabama's all-time record against Vanderbilt to 36–17–4.[15]

Wichita StateEdit

1 234Total
Wichita State 0 000 0
#2 Alabama 14 1473 38
  • Date: October 6
  • Location: Bryant–Denny Stadium
    Tuscaloosa, Alabama
  • Game attendance: 55,068

As they prepared for their first Tuscaloosa game of the season, Alabama retained their No. 2 position in AP Poll prior to their game against Wichita State.[18] In what was the only game ever played against the Shockers, the Crimson Tide won with this 38–0 shutout at Bryant–Denny Stadium.[16][17][19] Alabama took a 28–0 lead into halftime behind a pair of touchdowns scored in each of the first two quarters. After Steadman S. Shealy connected with Keith Pugh on a 27-yard touchdown pass, Shealy scored on a three-yard run for a 14–0 first quarter lead. Major Ogilvie then gave the Crimson Tide a 28–0 halftime lead after he scored on touchdown runs of six and four-yards in the second.[16][17] Alabama closed the game with an eight-yard Shealy touchdown run in the third and a 40-yard Alan McElroy field goal in the fourth that made the final score 38–0.[16][17]


1 234Total
• Alabama 14 31310 40
Florida 0 000 0


Miami (FL)Edit

The contest vs. the Hurricanes marked the first national television broadcast from Bryant–Denny Stadium. Portable light standards had to be brought in by ABC, since the Tuscaloosa stadium lacked permanent fixtures at the time. It also marked the Alabama homecoming for former Crimson Tide assistant Howard Schnellenberger, in his first season at Miami.


Miami (FL) at #1 Alabama
1 234Total
Miami (FL) 0 000 0
Alabama 10 0713 30


#1 Alabama vs. #14 Auburn
1 234Total
Alabama 0 1438 25
Auburn 3 096 18



  1. ^ All-time results Archived 2011-12-02 at WebCite
  2. ^ "1979 game recaps" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-06-01. Retrieved 2010-11-26.
  3. ^ "1979 Alabama football schedule". University of Alabama Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. Archived from the original on December 2, 2011. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
  4. ^ "1979 Schedule & Results: 1979 National Champions". CBS Interactive. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d e Browning, Al (September 9, 1979). "Tide hits Atlanta like Sherman did". The Tuscaloosa News. Google News Archives. p. 1A. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d e Meade, Doug (September 9, 1979). "Alabama dominates Georgia Tech in 30–6 breeze". Spartanburg Herald-Journal. Google News Archives. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
  7. ^ "Rivalry Finder: Alabama vs. Georgia Tech". SR/College Football. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
  8. ^ a b c d Browning, Al (September 23, 1979). "Tide massacres hopeful Baylor". The Tuscaloosa News. Google News Archives. p. 1A. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
  9. ^ a b c d "Tide swamps Baylor, 45–0". Ocala Star-Banner. Google News Archives. Associated Press. September 23, 1979. p. 2C. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
  10. ^ "Southern Cal holds No. 1, widens lead over UA". The Tuscaloosa News. Google News Archives. Associated Press. September 18, 1979. p. 11. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
  11. ^ "Rivalry Finder: Alabama vs. Baylor". SR/College Football. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
  12. ^ a b c d Browning, Al (September 30, 1979). "Tide waltzes by Vandy, 66–3". The Tuscaloosa News. Google News Archives. p. 1A. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
  13. ^ a b c d "Tide nails Vanderbilt by 66–3". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Google News Archives. Associated Press. September 30, 1979. p. 5C. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
  14. ^ "Leaders hold their spots in AP college football". The Tuscaloosa News. Google News Archives. Associated Press. September 25, 1979. p. 11. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
  15. ^ "Rivalry Finder: Alabama vs. Vanderbilt". SR/College Football. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
  16. ^ a b c d Browning, Al (October 7, 1979). "It's no shocker; Bama wins 38–0". The Tuscaloosa News. Google News Archives. p. 1A. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
  17. ^ a b c d Goens, Steve (October 7, 1979). "Alabama buries Shockers". The Florence Times. Google News Archives. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
  18. ^ "USC holds No. 2 in AP Poll". The Tuscaloosa News. Google News Archives. Associated Press. October 2, 1979. p. 12. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
  19. ^ "Rivalry Finder: Alabama vs. Wichita State". SR/College Football. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
  20. ^ Ocala Star-Banner. 1979 Oct 14. Retrieved 2018-Oct-28.
  21. ^ a b Recap