Any Alabama football fan who has been to Tiger Stadium knows the game environment is different than anywhere else. Calling it unfriendly is an understatement. Hostile is even too mild a word. And on Saturday nights, Tiger Stadium earns its other name – Death Valley. The second name goes back to 1959, replacing an earlier moniker, Deaf Valley.
Since 1960, LSU is 201–59–3 (.773) at night in Tiger Stadium
The first time Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant took an Alabama football team to Baton Rouge was in 1965. Alabama won 31-7. Alabama and LSU split the next two in Baton Rouge, with the Crimson Tide losing in 1969. LSU would not beat Alabama again in Baton Rouge until the 2000 season. During those many years, LSU’s most success against the Tide in Tiger Stadium was a 14-14 tie in 1984. Mike Shula caught a touchdown pass in the game.
Going back to the 1965 game, the Alabama football record in Tiger Stadium through the 1998 game, was 17-1. LSU had some Baton Rouge success during the Crimson Tide’s journey in the wilderness period between Gene Stallings’ tenure and Nick Saban. Two of the Crimson Tide road losses to LSU in the interval came against Nick Saban as the LSU head coach.
Is there any sound explanation for the extraordinary success Alabama has had in Baton Rouge? There is and it is a simple one. The Alabama Crimson Tide head coaches have been far better than the LSU head coaches. Take away Nick Saban’s five seasons at LSU and the Bengal Tigers have competed with a significant coaching disadvantage.
Another factor in the Nick Saban era of Alabama football is the Alabama Football mentality. Great players; and Nick Saban has brought them to the Crimson Tide in abundance, relish big road games.