Nothing But Winners
Nothing But Winners
It is nearly impossible to imagine, but football was once an unknown thing in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. But, that was well over a hundred years ago. In the early days, from 1893 to 1914, games were played on the 22-acre Quad, often against a hodgepodge of high school and athletic club opponents, and admission was often as much as a half-dollar (a good amount of money in the late 1800’s). Now, games are played in Bryant-Denny Stadium, the fifth largest stadium in the nation, with a capacity of 101,821 and a television and internet audience of millions. Tickets are priced considerably higher, as well. Rick Rush’s “Nothing But Winners” illustrates the most glorious eras in Alabama’s long and storied football history.
The focal point of his painting is the National Championship winning coaches, from left-to-right:
• Wallace Wade, who won National Championships in 1925, 1926, and 1930
• Frank Thomas, who won National Championships in 1934 and 1941
• Paul “Bear” Bryant, who won National Championships in 1961, 1964, 1965, 1973, 1978, and 1979
• Gene Stallings, who won a National Championship in 1992
• Nick Saban, who won a National Championship in 2009 and 2011
Beneath the coaches are a selection of National Championship trophies and their pre-modern equivalents. From left-to-right:
• The Rose Bowl’s perpetual Tournament Of Roses trophy, where Alabama’s name was inscribed in 1926.
• The Rissman Trophy, determined after the Rose Bowl of 1935.
• The A/P trophy, which remained unchanged during the years of 1961, 1964, and 1965.
• The A/P trophies of 1978 and 1979, which Rick Rush has displayed one behind the other.
• The UPI Trophy, which remained unchanged during the years of 1978 and 1979.
• The USF&G Coaches’ Award Trophy of 1992.
• The BCS National Championship Trophy of 2009.
At the foreground is a memorable moment from each era in Alabama’s football history. From left-to-right:
• “Wu” Winslett tackles a Washington player in Alabama’s first Rose Bowl appearance, in 1926. What was expected to be a lemon of a game was soon to be called “The Game That Changed The South,” as Alabama defeated the heavily favored Washington 20 to 19 and put the Southern brand of football on the map.
• Don Hutson catching a long pass from Dixie Howell against Stanford in the 1935 Rose Bowl. Expected to be a very close game, and it was, for the first quarter. Alabama defeated Stanford 29 to 13.
• The famous goal-line stand against Penn State in the 1979 Sugar Bowl. Alabama defeated the Penn State Nittany Lions 14 to 7, giving the “Bear” his sixth and final National Championship. This game also saw the debut of the Tide’s beloved mascot, Big Al.
• George Teague’s infamous run-down and “strip” of the fastest player in college football, Miami Hurricane’s trash-talking Lamar Thomas, in the 1993 Sugar Bowl. Alabama defeated the heavily favored Hurricanes 34-13.
• Mark Ingram, Alabama’s first Heisman Trophy winner. The Crimson Tide went undefeated in the 2009-2010 season and defeated the Texas Longhorns 37 to 21 in the BCS Championship Game held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
The background features the personification of school spirit, the Alabama cheerleaders, Bryant-Denny Stadium, topped with its thirteen National Championship pennants, and Denny Chimes. Beneath Denny Chimes, Rick Rush has painted a slender field-goal in front of a makeshift rampart of bedsheets – the sideline view in 1893.
The University of Alabama is one of the most recognizable, prestigious football programs in the nation. From “The Game That Changed The South” in 1926, to the era of the “Bear,” to the present-days of “The Process” – the Crimson Tide continues to be "Nothing But Winners".