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The Alabama Crimson Tide football team represents the University of Alabama (variously Alabama, UA, or 'Bama) in the sport of American football. The Crimson Tide competes in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) and the Western Division of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The team is currently coached by Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide is among the most storied and decorated programs in NCAA history. Since beginning play in 1892, the program recognizes 15 of the national championships awarded to the team, including 10 wire-service (AP or Coaches) national titles in the poll-era, the most of any current FBS program. From 1958 to 1982, the team was led by Hall of Fame coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, who won six national championships with the program. Despite numerous national and conference championships, it was not until 2009 that an Alabama player received a Heisman Trophy, when running back Mark Ingram became the university's first winner.
As of the completion of the 2012 season, Alabama has 827 official victories in NCAA Division I (an additional 21 victories were vacated and 8 victories and 1 tie were forfeited), has won 27 conference championships (4 Southern Conference and 23 SEC championships) and has made an NCAA-record 60 postseason bowl appearances. Other NCAA records include 23 10-game+ win streaks, and 19 seasons with a 10–0 start. The program has 33 10–win seasons (32, one vacated), and has 35 bowl victories, both NCAA records. Alabama has completed 10 undefeated seasons, 9 of which were perfect seasons. The Crimson Tide leads the SEC West Division with eight division titles and eight appearances in the SEC Championship Game. Alabama holds a winning record against every current and former SEC school, except for SEC newcomer Missouri (2-2). The Associated Press (AP) ranks Alabama 4th in all-time final AP Poll appearances, with 50 through the 2012 season.
Alabama currently plays their home games at Bryant–Denny Stadium, located on the campus in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. With a capacity of 101,821, Bryant-Denny is the 7th largest non-racing stadium in the world and the fifth largest stadium in the United States, behind only Michigan Stadium, Beaver Stadium (Penn State), Neyland Stadium (Tennessee), and Ohio Stadium.
Alabama has had 28 head coaches since organized football began in 1892. Adopting the nickname of the Crimson Tide after the 1907 season, the team has played more than 1,100 games in their 114 seasons. In that time, 12 coaches have led the Crimson Tide in postseason bowl games: Wallace Wade, Frank Thomas, Harold D. "Red" Drew, Bear Bryant, Ray Perkins, Bill Curry, Gene Stallings, Mike DuBose, Dennis Franchione, Mike Shula, Joe Kines, and Nick Saban. Eight of those coaches also won conference championships: Wade, Thomas, Drew, Bryant, Curry, Stallings, DuBose, and Saban. During their tenures, Wade, Thomas, Bryant, Stallings, and Saban all won national championships with the Crimson Tide.
Of the 27 different head coaches who have led the Crimson Tide, Wade,Thomas, Bryant, and Stallings have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. The current head coach is Nick Saban, who was hired in January 2007.
University of Alabama law student William G. Little learned how to play American football while attending prep school in Andover, Massachusetts and began teaching the sport to fellow Alabama students in early 1892. Later in the year, the school formed an official team of 19 players, with Little as captain and E. B. Beaumont as head coach. Among those also on the team were William B. Bankhead, future U.S. Speaker of the House, and Bibb Graves, future governor of Alabama. The team was referred to as the "Cadets", the "Crimson White", or simply as "the varsity".
On November 11, 1892, the team played its first game at a baseball park in Birmingham, Alabama, winning 56–0 against a team composed of players from local Birmingham-area high schools. The team played only one game during the 1897 season and did not field a team for the 1898 season because of a ban restricting student athletes from traveling away from campus. The team resumed play in 1899 after the ban was lifted due to fan and student outcry. Following the 1907 season, the team adopted the "Crimson Tide" nickname. The school did not field a team in 1918 because of World War I, but resumed play once again in 1919.
Alabama's first All-American was Bully Van de Graaff in 1915.
Alabama joined the newly formed Southern Conference in 1922. Shortly after the end of the 1922 season in which he led Alabama to an upset victory over Penn, head coach Xen C. Scott died of cancer.