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After the conclusion of the BAMA vs Arky 52-0 beat down Spencer Tillman said,
“I think early on Nick Saban had a big picture view of what’s going on around the nation. He knew his defense was pretty good, they’re young, he kept them in check. But 14 points now over the last 12 quarters this defense has given up, absolutely outstanding. I think at the end of this season we’re going to look at this Alabama defense as one of the best that ever played the game for the Crimson Tide.”
Not a bad compliment coming from the former 1985 Oklahoma National Championship team captain/RB, 8 season NFL RB, and current CBS lead studio analyst for COLLEGE FOOTBALL TODAY. But how much does he really know about BAMA football to make a historical statement like that. Let’s see where this CNS Alabama defense, and overall team really is compared to the storied Alabama teams of the past.
Upfront, this is a very difficult endeavor, trying to compare one team to another, from years ago to now. The 1925 undefeated team played 10 games, whereas the 2009 undefeated team played 14 games. You have strength of schedule type issues which could affect the performance and outcome of games. You have various coaching philosophies of keeping the 1st team in longer, then bringing in the 2nd team and third team which also play a role in points scored or points allowed for each game. You also have to figure in running up the score versus not running up the score. You can also figure in those national championship teams that did not have any loses versus those which had one loss or a tie. Then you can factor into the equation how many Alabama teams shut out other teams in a national championship season. Lastly you can factor in national stats such as the four major categories of total D, rushing D, passing D, and scoring D. One could also factor in stats such as 3rd down defensive efficiency, and turnovers created in a season. It can get pretty complicated if you wanted to go down certain rabbit holes. I tried to keep it simplified for the BOL reading audience. Many can add other categories as well to try and figure it out. Ultimately there will be some variations of subjectiveness involved. Here is how I tried to approach this dynamic/nebulous question to figure out who the best defense/best overall Alabama team that ever was/played the game.
1. They had to have a NC.
2. They had to be undefeated (Perfect Season)
3. Shutouts were factored, but not necessarily weighted.
4. A points scored/allowed percentage was a major factor.
What was not used to determine the best defense/overall team was.
1. Strength of schedule.
2. National Stats - http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/football/statistics
Feel free to dive into those areas which I did not in order to get a more detailed view of how good certain BAMA teams were. But for now I went with a simplified approach.
Out of the 14 National Championship teams there were 8 teams that went undefeated. Those were;
The following teams had the following number of shutouts.
1. 1925 (8)
2. 1926 (6)
3. 1930 (8)
4. 1934 (5)
5. 1961 (6)
6. 1979 (5)
7. 1992 (3)
8. 2009 (1)
The following is the points percentage for points scored divided into the number of points allowed.
1. The 1925 team scored 297 points and allowed 26 for a percentage of 92%.
2. The 1926 team scored 249 points and allowed 27 for a percentage of 90%.
3. The 1930 team scored 271 points and allowed 13 for a percentage of 96%.
4. The 1934 team scored 316 points and allowed 45 for a percentage of 86%.
5. The 1961 team scored 297 points and allowed 25 for a percentage of 92%.
6. The 1979 team scored 383 points and allowed 67 for a percentage of 83%.
7. The 1992 team scored 366 points and allowed 122 for a percentage of 67%.
8. The 2009 team scored 449 points and allowed 164 for a percentage of 64%.
Looking at these key factors we can choose a top three for the best that ever was at Alabama. Those that made the cut were, the 1925 team, the 1930 team, and the 1961 team. The 1930 team has the highest point percentage and a tie with the 1925 team for the number of shutouts at 8 apiece. Although the 1961 team barely squeaked by the 1925 team in terms of points percentage, the 1925 team has two more shutouts than the 1961 team ("They played like it was a sin to give up a point,'' - Coach Paul Bryant). The best team could be considered the 1930 team, followed by the 1925 team, and coming in third is the 1961 team.
Currently the 2012 team has a 90% point percentage, and two shutouts. Time will tell if Spencer Tillman is correct with his initial observation when the season ends. I hope he is right, but the reality though is that it is very difficult to figure it all out. RTR
“Although our intellect always longs for clarity and certainty, our nature often finds uncertainty fascinating.” Karl von Clausewitz
I don't think you can compare shutouts, stats of today to teams from mid 90's on back. So much has changed offensively that I am of the opinion that to pitch a shutout today is a tall task and takes a very deep team (which we obviously have) and/or you have to play some very poor offensive teams (we've not played any of those yet). I think Tillman's comments are a little premature, but not much; he's has a good football mind and understands its won and lost in the trenches. We are excellent in the defensive trenches and have only one peer and that's LSU (i think our depth gives us the edge there). We trump LSU in the secondary slightly and largely at the interior backer positions.
Nice work above by the way, that obviously took some time.
"You don't always get what you want, but you always get what you deserve"
I gave you a +1. But the only problem I had with your analysis is having to be undefeated under their belt. Last year's team gave up 9 points in their only loss. Essentially, I would say they did there job and should be included based on their merit. So you may want to consider expanding to if either a team lost 1 or 2 games.
I know one thing for sure - I bet Spencer T won't dare say to Coach Saban this early in the year that he thinks this D can be on that level. Net yet anyway. Can you imagine....
Of course, he did say at the end of the season....so its not like he completely said right now (g)
Good Stuff. I think its pretty safe to say with the recruits we bring in every year, the insane depth, the coaching these kids get from day 1.....were going to be better than avg. on D for the foreseeable future....and that is awesome. You always have a chance to win when you can stop the other team.
Thanks. Yes, much has changed offensively which has made it more difficult to get those shutouts. However, I am not so certain that this Alabama team, or future teams, can rack up maybe 5-6 shutouts in a season. It's not impossible and CNS has definitely shut down some offensive revolutions in the college football world. The stats is a much more difficult aspect to try and get a handle on though. I am sure someone out there who is stat savy could try and figure it out.
I think we also have the overall edge on LSwho. Will be a great game, hopefully along the lines of the BCSNCG. RTR
I like spencer but pretty sure he wears guy-liner.
Decent way to normalize the defensive shutouts or defensive points per game allowed is to:
-Compare Bama's average points per game allowed to the national or conference average for that season. The season in which Bama's percentage [when Bama's average is divided by national/conference] is lower would considered to be the most impressive.
Ex. Hypothetical Numbers
Bama Average Allowed Per Game: 10
National Average: 20
Bama %: 50%
Bama Average Allowed Per Game: 10
National Average: 30
Bama %: 33%
2011 Defense is better using this quick, simple normalization method. More advanced statistical analysis methods can be used via excel but I think the above is pretty sufficient for the sake of comparison.
You could also compare the average points scored per game of Bama's opponents in a particular season and compare the average points allowed by Bama against these teams and then divide Bama Average Allowed Against Teams/Teams Averaged Scored.....in a similar manner as described above with the lower percentage being the better season.
This post was edited by BamaBornDukie 19 months ago
"You must show no mercy nor have any belief whatsoever in how others judge you, for your GREATNESS will silence them all." -ULTIMATE WARRIOR
Like to see the 66 teams stats compared with these.
I think that 2011 was the best Bama defense ever; certainly the best I have seen.
Dee Milliner was the 3rd CB...haha.
This post was edited by manbearpig7 19 months ago
I dont believe this defense will be as good as last year. I would love to be wrong, but I just dont see how it possibly could be. We have played ONE legit opponent so far. Arkansas was neutered before their game, and they also essentially gave up before half time, so I don't consider them a valid test. I think all this hype is building to a let down when our defense does get seriously tested. It reeks of the 2010 mindset, and I hope our players dont buy into it. They are still young and relatively inexperienced, and that will be exposed by one of our opponents this season. Fortunately I think our offense can more than keep up.
Proceed with the down votes.
I am going to hit you with a -1 for your preemptive whining but I do agree with everything you said.
I keep thinking of what NEXT years defense will be like. The potential is off the charts!!!
I think you should compare the scoring averages vs the rest of the country for the season in question and rank it as a % from there. For instance last year we gave up 8.2 points per game while the national average was 26.5 points per game, so we gave up 70% less points than the average NCAA team.
In 1992 we gave up 9.1 points per game and I can't easily get the average but the mid point team gave up 22.5 points per game so we gave up 60% less points than the team ranked directly in the middle of the rankings, which will be pretty close to the average.
So based on defensive scoring production the 2011 defense was better than the 1992 defense when compared to their peers.
Last years defense was just smothering and dominating.
One of the best of all time.
This years defense is not quite up to that level.
But theres so much young talent on the field and developing right now, by years end they could be great.
They have the knack for turnovers this year also, thats a huge advantage if they keep that up.
Another thing i love about this years defense is Vinnie, that guy is just a natural born football player, he's getting better each week.
i agree...The only thing that kept last years team being talked about as one of the most dominating of all time was losing by a fg to LSU. We pitched a shutout in the NC. who does that?
You made my head hurt !
But, I like your analysis.
Have you considered the problem of a unified theory in physics.
Might be worth your expertise.
This post was edited by wadej 19 months ago
1) No, no, no.. Last years defense was THE best college defense of all-time... Not jus one of the best, lets get that straight..
2) Believ it or not, this years defense, as well as any defense that CNS will coach here, will hava chanc of bein even better than last years defense.. Why say you?? Because we actually dont even have to have as beastly of players as we had last year in Donta, Upshaw, Barron, Drekirk, & even TrentR on offense just to get the job done..true enough Barron, CU & DH put muuch fear into opposing players, but the real truth of the matter is that you only hav to get th ball carrier on ground.. somthing this years defense does really well and will continue to as long as they continue to be the right positions to make the plays.. its so much more mental ability & instincts than people give it credit.. This years defense could end up proving to be even more seasoned than last year because their mental performance and positioning thru out games this year.. just watch, statistically, this team may end up even better defensively than last years!!
Like others I appreciate your work, but seriously, you lost me when you eliminated the 2011 defense.
You have to use more objective criteria when evaluating present and past teams/defenses. And you have to understand that more goes into winning and losing a game than the defense. If you want to use undefeated seasons as a way to judge the best TEAMS ever, fine, but not the best DEFENSES ever.
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