TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Then, He said, “Let there be football.” Then, there was Alabama football.
In what may well be part of divine plan, opposing teams have often turned to God, looking for His help and mercy when they face the crash of the Crimson Tide.
One hundred years ago, that’s exactly what Marion Military Institute was doing.
CBS 42 took a look back in time to 1922, the year that changed everything for Alabama football, starting with a win 110-0.
“At the time, Alabama fans probably didn’t realize it, but 1922 would be a turning point year,” said Keith Dunnavant, a documentary filmmaker and writer who’s authored two books on Alabama football.
Today, outside Bryant Denny Stadium on the Walk of Champions, Bama’s uncommon victories are a common sight, but 100 years ago, that record was only just getting started.
The storied 1922 season began with Bama’s biggest score in history, beating the Marion Cadets a whopping 110-0.
But even so, this was still considered an ordinary season from an ordinary team.
“In the 1920s, there was this cloak of inferiority over Southern football. The conventional wisdom was that football in the Northeast was the only place where serious college football was played. Hard to believe now,” Dunnavant said.
A few weeks later, the University of Pennsylvania was rolled by the Tide in a 9-7 upset before a crowd of 25,000 bewildered fans.
This was when the world first saw the Alabama Crimson Tide had become a tsunami.
“It was a landmark event … It said that football in the South is for real and Alabama is for real,” Dunnavant said.
This success was largely thanks to Head Coach Xen Scott, a former football player and sports writer who started coaching there three years earlier.
“He’s kind of a forgotten figure in Alabama football history but a very important figure,” Dunnavant said.
But he didn’t get to celebrate the shock victory over Penn with his team. Just days before, he turned in his resignation because off the field, he was fighting a losing battle with cancer.
“It’s tragic, it’s sad, and you never know what might have happened if he had not gotten sick,” Dunnavant said.
Scott agreed to stay until the end of the season and then died in 1924. Under him, the foundation was laid for Alabama to go on to win the Southern Conference and the Rose Bowl three years later, and as of today, win 18 national championships. The most of any college since the Poll Era started.