Ken Stabler - Biography - College Career

College Career

Stabler was recruited by legendary head coach Bear Bryant at the University of Alabama, joining the team in 1964. Due to National Collegiate Athletic Association regulations at the time, freshmen were ineligible to play; therefore, Stabler would sit out during the 1964 season. In that season, the Crimson Tide won the National Championship with quarterback Joe Namath.

In the 1965 season, Stabler was used sparingly as a back-up to Steve Sloan at quarterback, following Namath's departure to the AFL. That year again, the Crimson Tide won their second consecutive National Championship, finishing the season with a record of 9-1-1. The team defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Orange Bowl, 39–28.

As a junior in 1966, he took over the quarterback position full-time. He led the team to an undefeated, 11–0 season which ended in a 34–7 rout of Nebraska in the Sugar Bowl. Despite the unblemished record, the Tide was snubbed by the polls, finishing in third behind Notre Dame and Michigan State.

Expectations were high in Stabler's senior season, though those expectations would not be completely fulfilled. The offense often struggled, and the defense's performance slipped. During the season, Bryant kicked Stabler off the team for cutting class and partying, though he was given a second chance. The Tide finished with an 8–2–1 record, including a loss to rival Tennessee. Though the season was lackluster, Stabler would provide a memorable moment in the Iron Bowl. Trailing 3–0 in a game drenched by rain, Stabler scampered through the mud for a 53–yard, game-winning touchdown which gave the Tide a 7–3 victory over rival Auburn at Legion Field. The play is commonly referred to as the "Run in the Mud" in Alabama football lore.

Stabler finished his career at Alabama with a 28–3–2 record as a starter.

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    In looking back over the college careers of those who for various reasons have been prominent in undergraduate life ... one cannot help noticing that these men have nearly always shown from the start an interest in the lives of their fellow students. A large acquaintance means that many persons are dependent on a man and conversely that he himself is dependent on many. Success necessarily means larger responsibilities, and responsibilities mean many friends.
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