I’ve kind of thought that even if you hate the idea of Auburn claiming additional national titles that it has as much a right to as anyone, you’d surely at least be able to appreciate what it would do to Bama fans. I mean, here’s this team, this fanbase that has made you hate the number 12, and then the number 13 (is it 14 now?), that for years has lorded its magically-doubling national championship record over God and everyone as proof of its southern football paternity… and we could raise that glorious 1913 flag and be all 1925? Please… WE WERE THERE FIRST.
But it’s so easy to forget that there’s a generation of Auburn fans that already knows that feeling.
Here’s the first graph in a front page Crimson White story on JFK calling to congratulate the Tide on its 1961 national championship (or “powerful national championship”):
Read it again. One more time. According to Alabama’s student newspaper, Bama’s first national championship, in the minds of folks celebrating it in the moment, came four years after—not 32 years before—Auburn’s first national championship.
It’s one thing to see their old T-shirts and media guides, and to read the confession of the weaver who spun the emperor’s invisible Got 13? clothes in the mid-80s. But putting an ear straight up to 1961 really hits home how radically Bama’s football history has been rewritten. Here’s more, from the sports section of the same issue, Dec. 7, 1961:
That’s a little hard to read, but the money line: “This is the first time in history that the Crimson Tide has been honored with the mythical title of National Champions…”
The first time in history, 1961.
The story ends by acknowledging the SEC teams named AP national champs before Bama.
“Auburn wore the national crown in 1957 and Louisiana State wore it in 1958.”
There was actually a third team—Tennessee put the crown on first, in 1951—but hey, who’s counting…