Another year is in the book,s and it was another positive year for the University of Alabama athletic department. The year was filled with big recruiting classes, magical seasons and individual awards. While some seasons didn’t go exactly as planned, the University of Alabama has a lot to be proud of over the past year.
Let’s take a look at some of the biggest stories of 2022 for the University of Alabama.
The men’s basketball team made the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row under Nate Oats, earning a six seed, but fell to the 11-seed Notre Dame in the first round 78-64. The tournament appearance was the Crimson Tide’s 22nd in program history. A big reason for the team’s success this season was because of standout guard JD Davison. Davison was selected by the Boston Celtics with the 53rd pick of the 2022 NBA Draft. After having just one NBA draft pick from 2009-2019, Davison’s selection gives the Crimson Tide four players selected over the past three drafts, the best three-year stretch since having six selected from 1985-87.
Nate Oats and his staff were busy on the recruiting trail in 2022 finalizing a top 3 recruiting class, and arguably the best class in Alabama history. Nate Oats signed five players in the recruiting class. Two of the five are five-star recruits, and four are inside the 247Sports Composite top 58 players nationally. The fifth is a highly valued JUCO transfer considered to be one of the best JUCO players in the nation. The class was led by five-star Brandon Miller, who is on pace to be in contention for many awards and most likely a one-and-done player.
Last month, Nate Oats signed four players in the early signing period, securing a top 15 signing class, his fourth consecutive top 15 class since arriving at Alabama. This is the first time in the modern era that the Crimson Tide has landed four straight top 15 recruiting classes.
The Crimson Tide women’s soccer team had the best season in program history in 2022. Midway through the SEC schedule, Alabama grabbed a 2-1 victory over top 10-ranked Arkansas and took over the top spot in the NCAA rating power index (RPI) for the first time in program history. Alabama went on to go undefeated in SEC play, the first team to do so since South Carolina did it in 2016.
In the SEC Championship final, Alabama lost to South Carolina 1-0 finishing as the runner-up for just the second time in program history. The magical season earned the Crimson Tide a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament as well as hosting the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament game. Alabama battled its way to the Final Four of the NCAA Women’s College Cup before the record-setting season came to an end with a 3-0 loss to UCLA. The women’s team over the course of the magical season set program records for points (220), goals (76), assists (68), shots (539), shots on goal (231), wins (23) and shutouts (12).
Alabama continued its success in gymnastics in 2022 finishing the season in seventh place, securing the Crimson Tide’s 39th top 10 finish in program history. Four Alabama gymnasts earned Championship All-American honors in 2022. Luisa Blanco earned first-team All-American honors on the vault and balance beam. Lexi Graber earned second-team honors on the floor exercise. Shallon Olsen earned second-team honors on the vault, and Lilly Hudson earned second-team honors in the all-around during her rookie season. Alabama now has 79 gymnasts who have earned All-American honors since 2013.
The Alabama football season had a different sound to it in 2022 when it was announced that the longtime voice of the Crimson Tide Eli Gold would be out for the season because of health issues with Chris Stewart taking over Gold’s role. Eli Gold started doing Alabama play-by-play in 1988 and until this season had only missed one game in 2020 due to COVID-19 preventing him from traveling with the team.
Before the football season began, Alabama extended Nick Saban’s contract to once again make him the highest-paid coach in the country. The extension brings his contract to eight years worth at least $93.6 million, for an $11.7 million annual salary.
While Alabama finished the regular season with a 10-2 record, a record most programs would love to boast about, it was a disappointing season by Alabama standards. The two losses both came on the road on the last plays of the game and would be enough to keep Alabama out of the SEC Championship Game and more importantly the College Football Playoffs. The Crimson Tide’s first loss of the season was the most disappointing loss of the season as Tennessee finally snapped their 15-game losing streak against Alabama on a last-second field goal.
After the season was over, linebacker Will Anderson began to fill his trophy case with awards and accolades. Anderson received the Nagurski Trophy for the nation’s top defensive player for the second consecutive season. Anderson was also awarded the Chuck Bednarik Award, another honor given to the nation’s best defensive player. On top of these two awards, he was named a unanimous first-team All-American and SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
With critics claiming that Nick Saban had lost his fastball, and Alabama’s dynasty was over, Saban shut those rumors down by bringing home the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class, and possibly the best recruiting class in the program’s history. Alabama signed six five-star recruits, 20 four-star recruits and a three-star kicker, according to the 247Sports composite recruiting rankings.
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