A Book Like No Other
Many books have been written about Alabama football in recent years, but this one is unique. It focuses on the dominance of the program under Nick Saban and does so through data visualization. If you’re not familiar with that term, it’s just a fancy way of saying the book uses a lot of graphs and charts to tell stories with numbers. The main theme is not that the Crimson Tide have been the best in college football since 2008 or 2009 (pick your starting point). That much should be obvious. The more interesting story is how much better Bama has been than everyone else. This is where the numbers come in handy.
Nothing like this could’ve been written 15 or more years ago, because the wealth of data necessary to tell this story from so many different angles just wasn’t available then. And in this era of advanced statistics and analytics, only two teams in mainstream American sports have sustained excellence long enough to generate so many pages of highlights: Alabama football and the New England Patriots. The NFL, of course, has too much parity for even the Patriots to dominate the regular season the way Bama has. Thus, no other program or franchise is the subject of a book like this.
These pages specifically document the run from 2008 through 2020, which is – at least for now – the pinnacle of the Alabama football dynasty. The 2021 team was good, but it wasn't consistently dominant and didn't quite win another national title, which means the data in this book is more impressive than the same information updated through the 2021 season would be. Dynasty By The Numbers is showing the Saban era at its best.
A Dynasty Like No Other
One of the few drawbacks to being dominant for so long is that great players and great moments that were part of championship seasons are somewhat forgotten as new players, moments and championships come along. That’s why the photographs in this book are so enjoyable. All-Americans and pivotal plays throughout the Saban era are presented in full color by Kent Gidley and the Alabama athletics photography team, inducing memories from years past while also complementing the surrounding data.
Across the span of this dynasty, there have been elite offenses and elite defenses that featured record-setting numbers of All-Americans, other individual award winners and NFL 1st-round draft picks – all built on a foundation established by numerous top-ranked recruiting classes. The byproduct has been six national championships (so far) and an astounding number of weeks ranked Number 1 in the polls that far exceeds what any other program had ever achieved.
The book highlights all of those accomplishments and many more, culminating with a section dedicated to the 2020 team, which was, by the numbers, Saban’s best and also among the greatest in the history of the sport – certainly, a frontrunner for best offense of all time.
Even though the book was written with Alabama fans in mind, this isn’t information filtered through crimson-colored glasses. It’s page after page of facts. The numbers are essentially quantifying “the Process” that has led to such unparalleled success. And it’s even more impressive if you understand how changes in the sport made it necessary for Saban to adjust his approaches to offense, defense and recruiting in order to make this a true dynasty.
Whether Bama wins more national titles under Saban or not, it’s possible (if not probable) that no program will ever experience this level of success again. Hopefully, this book will give the many Bama fans who have started to take excellence for granted a new appreciation for just how extraordinary this era has been.
College football has always been fertile ground for arguments and controversy, and rarely has greatness been undisputed. In that regard, Saban’s Tide have taken the fun out of the sport for many pundits and opposing fans. As this book will make clear, Alabama’s dominance has become so thorough that it can hardly be debated any longer.
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