Mission Accomplished: Assistant Athletics Director pens book on Alabama's 16th national championship

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Joe Klingbeil

The 2015 college football season will forever be remembered by the University of Alabama and its fans. The season included obstacles, successes, and heartbreak but ultimately concluded in triumph with the Crimson Tide bringing home its fourth national championship in the last seven years.

A new book, “Alabama’s Crimson Mission,” details the team’s ability to overcome a crushing early loss, its remarkable late season stretch, and the 45-40 victory over Clemson in the College Football Playoff championship game in Glendale, Arizona.

The book, authored by Alabama Assistant Athletics Director Tommy Ford, includes a look at running back Derrick Henry’s historic journey in winning the Heisman Trophy. Photography, some of it taken in the Crimson Tide’s locker room and never before published, is from Kent Gidley, director of photography for UA Athletics.

This is the ninth book Ford has written about Alabama football. His previous works include “A Season to Remember,” a book he co-wrote with former Alabama long snapper Carson Tinker which told the story of the 2011 football season following the April 27th tornado.

In the new book, Ford offers inside information on how the 2015 team responded following a September loss to Ole Miss, and finished with 12 consecutive victories to secure another national championship trophy.

“It’s never good to write about an Alabama loss,” Ford said. “We all have these images in our heads from that game, however as the season played out, the constant references to the Ole Miss loss made the team stronger and more resilient and really was the turning point of the season.”

Ford, a former UA student and 1977-78 sports editor of The Crimson White, has worked in the athletic department for more than three decades, but he thinks the 2015 season may be the most special.

“I’ve seen the goal line stand game against Penn State,” Ford said. “But I think the Clemson game really made this one stand out.”

In the book, Ford goes into great detail about how Alabama was practically written off by some members of the media, and some were prepared to believe the Tide’s dynasty was coming to an end. But after a players only meeting following the loss, the team came together and stormed back to complete one of the most unforgettable seasons in Alabama history.

The team turned a corner showed up in the Oct. 3 contest against the Georgia Bulldogs. 

“I think Coach Saban first hinted at that when they beat Georgia [38-10],” Ford said. “After the game he told the media ‘y’all had us dead, buried and gone’ and I think that’s when the team knew we have to handle business and climb our way back up.”

In the book, Ford sheds light on the history between Alabama and Clemson. He highlights similarities and ties between the two programs, and goes into detail about how the connections between the Crimson Tide and the Tigers made for an even more historic matchup.

“I think the whole Clemson-Alabama connection is a big part,” Ford said. “All of the coaches that have been at both schools and all the players, it’s just a fascinating connection.”

As great as the Clemson game was, the Crimson Tide’s final victory of the season might have overshadowed its best, a dominating 38-0 victory over Michigan State in the semifinal round of the College Football Playoff. 

“The Michigan State win was sort of lost in this whole successful season,” Ford said. “We think of the Clemson game and all the classic plays, but that [Michigan State] game was maybe our best all around performance all year. And beating a team like that in the fashion we did, and they beat Ohio State who was our nemesis from a year ago. I really wanted to put into words the importance of that game.”