Alabama Football: It's Been a World of Difference for the Tide in 5 Years

Damon YoungCorrespondent IIDecember 26, 2011

TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 22:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide leads his team on the field to face the Tennessee Volunteers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 22, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It's amazing where a college football program can go in five years with the right guidance.

Half a decade ago at this time, Alabama was prepping to play in an afterthought bowl game against Oklahoma State, with Joe Kines serving as the interim coach.

Mike Shula had been fired following the loss to Auburn and a rather disappointing 6-6 campaign following the hope of 2005's 10-win season.

Anyone who closely looks at Crimson Tide football saw a program once again sliding in the wrong direction and despite Shula's service to his alma mater, it was time for a change.

Three weeks prior to Alabama's loss to the Cowboys in Shreveport, the Tide offered their head coaching position to West Virginia's Rich Rodriquez.

I remember it very well.

My wife and daughter were prepping to make a pre-Christmas trip to visit family in central Ohio. When we left Pennsylvania, Rodriguez had accepted Alabama's offer.

By the time we arrived in Ohio, going through West Virginia no less, Rich Rod had changed his mind.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Following his denial, Nick Saban would become the next head coach at Alabama on January 3rd, 2007.

In five years time a program struggling to restore its identity of greatness is now only two weeks away from playing in its second national title game during that span.

Not even the most optimistic Alabama fans would have predicted the Tide's meteoric rise to dominance.

With one Heisman trophy winner, two finalists, back-to-back undefeated regular seasons, an SEC and national championship, it's hard to argue against this being at least one of the most successful five-year runs in the history of Alabama football.

If Nick Saban can bring another crystal football back to Tuscaloosa, it will solidify the above statement.

Five years ago Alabama sat with egg on its face as it appeared the head coaching job was a plagued position with no suitors in sight.

Today it awaits a chance to play for all the BCS marbles for the second time in three years, the recruiting pipeline is flowing quite well and coordinators are being pegged to run programs themselves.

Where will Alabama be five years from now?