The “Redskins Rule” rang true this year, as the Redskins lost Monday night, and the non-incumbent party won the election.
Inspired by this fusion of politics and football, our statistic gnomes (acting with their own, free will, of course) decided to roil their mystical soil in hopes of unearthing any recurring connection between presidential election years and the Alabama football team’s performance in its first game after the election. Predicting whether Alabama will win based on the presidential election is like trying to eat cat pee with a fork. But…
…the gnomes are magical and somehow uncovered these interesting stats pertaining to post-election Alabama football games:
Alabama’s overall record in post-election games: 22-6-1
Alabama’s record in games following elections in which there is no individual incumbent candidate running, like the one Tuesday: 10-1
Alabama’s record vs. LSU in post-election games: 7-1
Alabama head coach Nick Saban’s record (as a college football HC) in post-election games: 3-0
– In 29 post-election contests, dating back to Alabama’s first-ever football game (a 56-0 bloodletting vs. a bunch of high school kids in 1892), The Tide is an impressive 22-6-1.
The lone tie, a 6-6 knot with Georgia, came in 1908, eleven days after William Howard Taft soundly secured rights to the office on Pennsylvania Avenue. Taft would later be appointed Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, becoming the first and only (to date) person to sit atop both the executive and judicial branches. In the last election year, 2004, Alabama defeated Mississippi State 30-14 in Tuscaloosa, four days after incumbent G.W. Bush surprisingly whipped challenger John Kerry to begin his second term as President.
– In games immediately following elections in which there is no incumbent individual candidate running, LIKE THE ONE TUESDAY, Alabama is a stunning 10-1. The only loss, one that was horrific on its own but terrificly horrific when coupled with the fact that it blemishes an otherwise magnificent stat, was suffered at the hands of Mississippi State in 2000.*(see footnote below)
The Tide was embarrassed by the Bulldogs, 29-7, in Starkville that year. Needless to say, Alabama did not live up to its preseason #3 ranking. Mike Dubose’s team ended its dreary 3-8 season on a cold and rainy evening in Tuscaloosa, being shut out by rival Auburn, and Dubose was told to go back to coaching high schools and D-3 squads.
– Against LSU, Bama’s friendly opponent this weekend, The Tide is a whopping 7-1 when it meets the Bengals immediately following an election. The only loss to the Bayou Bengals in these post-election games came in 1984, just four days after Ronald Reagan stitched up his claim to a second term as President. It was a contest that featured offensive stars on both sides of the ball: Mike Shula, former UA quarterback and head coach, for Bama, and Dalton Hilliard, widely regarded as the greatest player to ever put on a Bengal helmet,** for LSU. But it was a defensive battle to the very end of a fourth quarter that featured no points. Midway through the third quarter, LSU blocked an Alabama punt and got the ball inside The Tide’s 15-yard line. Three plays later, Hilliard, the legend, scored on a 7-yard touchdown run to put the Bengals up, 16-14. A two-point conversion attempt failed, but it proved to be moot, as neither team would score again that day, and LSU earned the W. Alabama finished the season 5-6, its first losing record since 1957, the year before Bear Bryant returned to Tuscaloosa. LSU ended an 8-3-1 year with a loss to Nebraska in the Sugar Bowl.
The last time Bama met LSU the weekend after an election was 1996 (Clinton over Dole), in Baton Rouge, when Tide tailback Shaun Alexander first showed the nation his skills. The freshman ran roughshod over the LSU defense on his way to a 291-yard performance, which is still the Alabama single game rushing record. When the dust cleared and Alexander was finally coaxed in to his stable, Bama had shut out the Bengals in their own Bayou, 26-0:
– Alabama head coach Nick Saban is 3-0 as a college football head coach in post-presidential election games. In 1996, days after Bill Clinton defeated Bob Dole in the election, Saban’s Michigan State Spartans thumped Indiana, 38-15. In 2000, following “Gore Wins…wait, Bush wins…wait, who wins?,” Saban’s LSU squad defeated Ole Miss, 20-9.* Finally, in its first contest after the 2004 election, Saban’s LSU beat Alabama, 26-10, in the “pass interference no-call” game in Tiger Stadium (this was NOT Alabama’s first game after the election, as LSU had a BYE the first weekend following and Alabama played Mississippi State, as noted above).
Current LSU head coach Les Miles is 0-1 in post-election matchups, the only game being a 56-35 loss to Texas while Miles was at Oklahoma State.
What does all this mean? Hard to tell, but those are interesting stats for The Crimson Tide heading into Cat Pee Bayou on this post-election weekend:
*Notably, due to some guy named Chad, the 2000 presidential election results were not officially announced until December, after Alabama’s awful season was over. While we would like to claim Bama’s loss to Miss. St. that year should be disqualified, thus making its record in games following elections with the noted specifications a perfect 10-0, we realize the finality of election results is irrelevant for this topic. Alabama lost its first game following the finality of the election results anyway, in its the opener of the 2001 season against UCLA. God, they sucked back then.
Also notable: Saban’s perfect 3-0 record in post-election games wouldn’t be affected either, because in its first game after the results were announced, his LSU team beat the Georgia Technological Institute, 28-14, in the Peach Bowl.
**Really, Dalton Hilliard was awesome.