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Duane Cross | | August 29, 2014

Pillars of the Program: Alabama

Pillars of the Program: Alabama football

The top three pillars of the program are in the video above -- now check out who just missed the cut ...

Alabama Crimson Tide football is the pride of the Heart of Dixie, the crown jewel of the Southeastern Conference and arguably the greatest program in college football history. Bama has been to 10 consecutive bowl games, matching the program's 1984-94 streak, and the Crimson Tide has been to 61 bowl games, winning 34 -- both tops in college football. In the SEC, considered the toughest conference in the land, Alabama has a winning record against every team and boasts of 23 conference championships. Even more, Alabama has 15 national championships. The Crimson Tide runs deep in the landscape of college football -- and these are the men who helped forge that greatness ...

John Hannah
Offensive Lineman | 1970-72
♦ All-American (1971-72)
♦ 27-8-1 in three years
Derrick Thomas
Linebacker | 1985-88
♦ 1988 Butkus Award winner
♦ 27 sacks in '88; 52 for career
Joe Namath
Quarterback | 1962-64
♦ All-American (1964)
♦ Career: 2,713 pass yds., 24 TDs
Cornelius Bennett
Linebacker | 1983-86
♦ 1986 Lombardi Award winner
♦ All-American (1984-86)
Don Hutson
Receiver | 1932-34
♦ All-American (1934)
♦ 25-3-1 in career; '34 national title
Lee Roy Jordan
Center / Linebacker | 1960-62
♦ All-American (1962)
♦ 29-2-2 in career; '61 national title
A.J. McCarron
Quarterback | 2009-2013
♦ All-American (2003)
♦ Career: 9,019 pass yds., 77 TDs
Ozzie Newsome
Receiver | 1974-77
♦ All-American (1977)
♦ Career: 102 rec., 2,070 yds., 16 TDs

Cornelius Bennett
“Biscuit” – a three-time All-America selection and Lombardi Award winner as a senior – tallied 287 tackles, 23 for loss, and recorded 15 sacks in four seasons. Named Alabama’s player of the decade for the 1980s, Bennett was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2005.

Most remembered for a sack of Notre Dame QB Steve Buerlein in the Crimson Tide’s 28-10 victory against the Irish in 1986, Bennett also dropped Alabama president Joab Thomas for a 5-yard loss. … It’s true: Bama held a Varsity vs. Alumni game in 1985. After watching the video, we cannot fathom why this gimmick didn't catch on ...

Don Hutson
Before Ron Sellers, before Marc Zeno, before Trevor Insley – before any of the modern day pass-catchers with ridiculous yardage totals, there was Don Hutson. It could be argued that no player revolutionized a position as did Hutson, a member of the 1951 College Football Hall of Fame class.

Dubbed the “Alabama Antelope,” Hutson’s best campaign was 1934, his All-America season, when he caught 19 passes, three for TDs. And he went out with a bang: Hutson had six catches for 165 yards and two TDs as the Crimson Tide rolled Stanford 29-13 in the 1935 Rose Bowl. Hutson so overshadowed his fellow Bama receiver, a dude named Paul Bryant, that “Bear” ultimately gave up playing for a coaching career.

Lee Roy Jordan
What else would you expect but greatness from a fella from Excel, Alabama? Jordan arrived at Bama one year after “Bear” Bryant and helped the Crimson Tide to a 29-2-2 record. He was part of Alabama’s 1961 national championship team and was an All-America selection as a senior in ’62. Bama allowed just 64 points in Jordan’s final two seasons, with 10 shutouts.

Jordan’s final game was the 1963 Orange Bowl, and among the attendees was President John F. Kennedy. Jordan posted 30 – that’s not a typo; 3-0 – tackles as the Tide rolled Oklahoma 17-0. He was selected for College Football Hall of Fame enshrinement in 1983.

A.J. McCarron
Too soon? Au contraire. Put aside the prism of time and reflection; McCarron’s place in Bama annals is assured no matter if we wait one year, 10 years or 100 years. His three national championships, including one as a redshirt in 2009, are more than any other player on this list.

McCarron went 36-4 as a starter and, as a senior, established the Crimson Tide’s single-season passing yardage mark (3,063) as well as the career record (9,019). In short, McCarron’s college career eclipsed the likes of Bart Starr, Joe Namath, Ken Stabler … you know, guys who won four of the first 11 Super Bowls.

Ozzie Newsome
The pigskin “Wizard of Oz,” Newsome was an All-America selection in 1977, posting career-highs in receptions (36) and yards (804) with four TDs. He was the Crimson Tide’s player of the decade for the 1970s, and enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994. Alabama was 42-6 during Newsome’s four seasons, including three 11-1 records. He also finished second to Bo Jackson in a recent poll, which chose the state’s best ever football player.

Aside from the statistical high points, perhaps the accolade that most defines Newsome is this: “He is the greatest end in Alabama history – and that includes Don Hutson,” so said “Bear” Bryant, Hutson’s former teammate.

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