Alabama, the nation's only unbeaten and untied major college football team, was selected the No. 1 college football team in the country yesterday by the Associated Press and United Press International polls.
Southern California, 11-0-1, a 17-16 came-from-behind victor over Ohio State in the Rose Bowl, was second in both polls, followed by Oklahoma, Ohio State and Houston.
Alabama, 12-0, began New Year's Day ranked behind Ohio State in AP and No. 1 by UPI. The Crimson Tide's 24-9 win over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl and the Buckeyes' loss to the Trojans was sufficient evidence to the pollsters that Bear Bryant's team was best in the country.
The AP's board of 67 sportswrtiers and broadcasters gave Alabama 1,317 points, with 46 first-place votes. USC was second with 1,289 points and 21 first-place votes. No other team received a first-place vote.
UPI's board of 42 coaches gave the Crimson Tide 559 points, and 28 first-place votes, to USC's nine first-place votes and 539 points. Four coaches did not vote.
Rounding out the top 10 in the AP poll were Florida State, Pittsburgh, Arkansas, Nebraska and Purdue.
The second five, according to UPI, were Pittsburgh, Nebraska, Florida State, Arkansas and Purdue
In addition, Alabama was awarded the Grantland Rice national championship trophy for the second year in a row by the Football Writers' Assocaition of America and the MacArthur Bowl as the No. 1 team by the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame.
Alabama, which has a winning streak of 21 games, was the No. 1 team in the nation last year in the AP poll, but finished second to USC in the UPI poll.
Paul (Bear) Bryant, 66, who needs only 19 wins to surpass Amos Alonzo Stagg as the all-time winningest college coach, said he was "extremely proud" of his team.
"We're proud. We're extremely proud of these guys," Bryant said when informed of the national title. "We're very happy. I said in the middle of the season that this could be the best team I ever coached before the year was out. But we had so many injuries that the guys had to work awfully hard to win this thing."
"We showed a lot of class."
It was Alabama's fifth AP national championship -- all under Bryant -- since that poll began in 1936. The others came in 1961, 1964, 1965 and last year. The Tide has won four titles in UPI polls.
Bryant, college football's winningest active coach with 296 victories, said he was "highly pleased, but not surprised," at the final rankings "because I thought all along we had a good chance of finishing first. I decided not to worry about it one way or the other."
Bryant later issued the following statement through Alabama's sports information office:
"I am very happy for our players, our staff, the university and our fans. This is a great bunch of young men and we had outstanding senior leadership. They have worked very hard and I think are deserving.
"Also, I would like to compliment our coaching staff because each member did an outstanding job this season.
"This is certainly one of our greatest teams. It is the first team in Alabama history to win 12 games and only the third in my 22 years as head coach to go through the season with a perfect record. This team overcame a lot of key injuries and always will be very special to me personally."
In contrast to AP's final regular season poll, when eight writers left Alabama out of the top three, only two board members had the Tide as low as third this time.
Ironically, Alabama also received 1,317 points in winning last year's national championship while Southern Cal, which finished second a year ago, had 1,285, four fewer than this year.
Oklahoma finished third for the second straight season after trouncing previously unbeaten Florida State, 24-7, in the Orange Bowl. Ohio State fell from first to fourth in the AP poll after its one-point loss to USC. f
Houston, a 17-14 Cotton Bowl victor over Nebraska jumped from eighth to fifth. Florida State was sixth in the AP with 893 points, but dropped to eighth in UPI.