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December 23, 2012

Parade saluted Alabama's champions

TUSCALOOSA | After winning the national championship with a dominating performance against Miami in New Orleans, the University of Alabama football players made their way back home. On Jan. 30, 1993, the players regrouped for the "Salute to the Champions" parade.

The parade started on Greensboro Avenue and the procession continued on University Boulevard, ending at Denny Chimes. Fans and players assembled in front of the Gorgas Library for a pep rally.

Published reports estimated the crowd along the parade route at 30,000 to 35,000.

"It was an unbelievable celebration, a great championship, a great win in the Sugar Bowl," said Mal Moore, an assistant coach on the 1992 team and now Alabama's athletics director. "The parade was a long time coming. It was one of the most exciting atmospheres I've ever been in."

Corky Simpson, a sports writer for The Tucson (Ariz.) Citizen, served as the grand marshal. Simpson was the only Associated Press voter who voted Alabama No. 1 from start to finish. During the pep rally, Simpson said he "never doubted" that Alabama was No. 1. He was proclaimed an honorary citizen of Tuscaloosa and received a key to the city from Mayor Al DuPont.

"That was fun," Simpson said. "There was this beautiful Ford Coyote, a wonderful race car. I was going to be in some fancy car with some important people, but it broke down. So I just got out and walked. I walked in front of the parade, actually. There might have been a couple of twirlers around me. I enjoyed it a little more like that, shook a few hands. I walked that whole parade route."

Fans jammed into Coleman Coliseum the night before for the presentation of the national championship trophy. Alabama, which was celebrating the 100th anniversary of its football program, capped a 13-0 season by beating No. 1 Miami, 34-13, in the Sugar bowl.

John Copeland, who coaches and teaches at Tuscaloosa Academy, was part of it all. A senior in 1992, Copeland was an All-America defensive end.

"The celebration, when we came back to Tuscaloosa, was almost as much fun as playing in the game itself," Copeland said, looking back. "Just to see how many people came out to celebrate the national championship says so much about how people feel about the University of Alabama. We were overwhelmed at the number of people that showed up for that. It was a great, great, great time."

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