North Alabama Lions football

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North Alabama Lions football
2017 North Alabama Lions football team
UNA Lions wordmark.png
First season 1912
Athletic director Mark Linder
Head coach Chris Willis
1st season, 5–5 (.500)
Stadium Braly Municipal Stadium
(Capacity: 14,215)
Field surface ProGrass
Location Florence, Alabama
NCAA division Division I FCS
Conference FCS Independent
Past conferences Gulf South 1972-2017
Alabama Collegiate Conference 1960–1969
All-time record 465–276–16 (.625)
Playoff appearances 21
Playoff record 35–18
Claimed nat'l titles 3 - (Div. II) 1993, 1994, 1995
Conference titles 17
13 GSC, 4 ACC
Rivalries Jacksonville State
Alabama A&M
West Alabama
Consensus All-Americans 63
Colors Purple and Gold[1]
Fight song Go! Fight! U-N-A!
Mascot Leo III and Una
Marching band Pride of Dixie Marching Band
Outfitter Adidas

The North Alabama Lions football team represents the University of North Alabama (UNA) in the Football Championship Subdivision competing as an Independent for the 2018 season, then as a member of the Big South Conference beginning in 2019. The Lions are a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference in all other sports.[2] UNA plays its home games at Braly Municipal Stadium in Florence, Alabama. They are currently coached by Chris Willis. UNA was a member of Division II from 1972-2017.

The Lions are distinguished as the only team to win three consecutive football national championships in NCAA Division II. UNA's 27 consecutive weeks at No. 1 in the Division II polls also comprise the longest stretch of consecutive No. 1 rankings in football in NCAA history on any level. UNA is the last Division II team to beat a Division I-A (FBS) team, defeating Southwestern Louisiana (now Louisiana–Lafayette) on October 11, 1997.[3] In 2016, UNA won their fourth consecutive Gulf South Conference championship — a conference record. Since 1990, the Lions have posted a 233–89–1 record giving them the best win percentage (.721) in the state of Alabama over that time frame.[4]


Based on a history compiled by, the University’s official athletic Website, football had an especially inauspicious beginning at the University of North Alabama. The institution’s first football game in 1912 ended with Florence State Normal School losing to Sewanee, 101–0.[5] The institution carried on with a football program for 16 years despite similar poor results, finally terminating the program in 1928 after losing twice to Marion Institute, 86–0 and 85–0.

The program was not resumed until 1949, when President E.B. Norton announced that Florence State Teachers College, as the institution was then known, once again would field a team. At the first pep rally for the new team, Dr. Norton told the student body that the school had not lost a football game in 20 years and did not want to start losing then. Nevertheless, the first game, played Sept. 29, 1949 against Jacksonville State, resulted in a 12–7 loss. Florence State rebounded in the next game with a 28–7 win over Howard College (now Samford University).[6]

Dr. Norton told the Flor-Ala student newspaper on January 5, 1949 that a football team was important not only for school spirit but also because a teachers college should have facilities to train coaches for the public schools. In an interview with the Florence Times-Daily in 1994, Dr. Norton recounted the football team's role at a critical juncture in the college's history. Wendell Wilkie Gunn, the first African American graduate of Florence State, registered in 1964. In the wake of the protests and violence that attended integration at other southern colleges and universities, Dr. Norton called the football team together and said he expected a peaceful and welcoming atmosphere on the Florence State campus. He charged the football players to set the appropriate example as leaders of the student body. Mr. Gunn matriculated and graduated in four years without incident. Dr. Norton stated that the football team's contribution to the successful integration of the institution justified his original vision of the program, in a way he could not have foreseen in 1949, and exceeded even the program's considerable achievements on the field (which by the 1990s included three national titles).

The Lions won thirteen Gulf South Conference Championships since 1980, and finished its 46 year tenure in Division II with a 337-170-7 record. [6]


Jacksonville State[edit]

The University of North Alabama and Jacksonville State University (JSU) first played in 1949 upon UNA's return to the gridiron. The two teams played every year through the 1992 season, and have only played three times since JSU's move to the FCS (2003, 2013, 2016). JSU leads the series 25–18–3. The longest winning streak by either team is seven games (UNA 1952–61; JSU 1988–92). UNA and JSU played each other twice in the 1989 and 1992 seasons by meeting up in the playoffs. The current streak is held by JSU with two wins.[7] The most recent match was on September 1, 2016 resulting in a JSU victory by a score of 31–12.[8]

Alabama A&M[edit]

UNA and Alabama A&M University (AAMU) are separated by only 77 miles. While this rivalry is currently inactive, the two teams are scheduled to play each other in the 2018 and 2019 seasons. This match-up provides great excitement in the Tennessee Valley.[9] UNA and AAMU played 22 times from 1975 to 1997. The first game was won by UNA 48–29 on the road. UNA leads the series 18–3–1. The longest winning streak in the series is held by UNA at eight games (1989–1997). UNA won the most recent game 49–20 during the 1997 season.[10]

West Alabama[edit]

UNA and the University of West Alabama (UWA) first played in 1949 and have played every year since. UNA leads the series 52–18–1. UWA won the first two meetings in 1949 (14–13) and 1950 (19–0), but UNA followed that with a thirteen-game winning streak (1951–1963). The longest winning streak in the series is held by UNA at fourteen games (1988–2001). The current winning streak is held by UWA at one game.[11] The most recent match-up was played on September 23, 2017 resulting in a 38–17 victory for UWA.[12] Unfortunately, the 2017 meeting was likely the last for the foreseeable future as UNA moves to the FCS in 2018.[13][14]

Head coaches[edit]

  • Records are through the end of the 2017 Season
Tenure Coach Years Record Percentage
1949–1969 Hal Self 21 109–81–8 .571
1970–1972 Durell Mock 3 8–24–0 .250
1973–1976 Mickey Andrews 4 18–21–1 .462
1977–1987 Wayne Grubb 11 84–43–6 .707
1988–1997 Bobby Wallace 10 82–36–1 .693
1998–2001 Bill Hyde 4 20–21 .487
2002–2008 Mark Hudspeth 7 66–21 .758
2009–2011 Terry Bowden 3 29–9 .763
2012–2016 Bobby Wallace 5 44–15 .746
2017–present Chris Willis 1 5–5 .500
Totals 10 coaches 69 seasons 465–276–16 .625

Hal Self[edit]

Under the direction of Head Coach Hal Self, the college completed 1949 with a 4–5 record, turning in a slightly improved 5–4 record the following year. However, during Self's 21 seasons as head coach, the Lions compiled a 109–81–8 record, even posting wins against some Division I schools.

The Lions were especially dominant among other Alabama teams, building a 31–0–2 record, beginning with a 32–6 win over Livingston (now West Alabama) in 1952 and ending 12 years later with a 21–7 loss to Troy State in 1964. Self also amassed several Alabama Collegiate Conference championships and coached eight All-Americans, including Harlon Hill, the school’s first professional football star.

Former Lion standout Durell Mock succeeded Self in 1970, followed by Mickey Andrews in 1973.[6]

Wayne Grubb[edit]

Wayne Grubb took over for Andrews in 1977.[15] Grubb followed a disappointing 5–5 beginning season with 8 consecutive winning seasons, including Gulf South Conference championships in 1980, 1983, and 1985. UNA also qualified for the national semifinals in 1980 and 1983, competing for the Division II Championship at Palm Bowl in McAllen, Texas, in 1985.

In 1985, Florence's Braly Municipal Stadium also was secured as the site of the Division II national championship game, with UNA serving as the host institution until 2013, when it was announced that the championship would move to Kansas City, Missouri in 2014 and remain there through 2017.[16] The Division II move to Florence also led to the adoption of the Harlon Hill Trophy, named after one of the most successful athletes in UNA's history.[6]

Bobby Wallace (first stint)[edit]

Coach Bobby Wallace, UNA President Robert Potts, and members of the 1995 National Championship team pose with President Bill Clinton and U.S. Senator Howell Heflin at the White House.

The most successful era in UNA football history followed the hiring of Bobby Wallace as head football coach. Following a four-year rebuilding period, Wallace led the Lions to a 7–4–1 record in 1992 and competed in the second round of the Division II championship until losing to Jacksonville State, the eventual Division II national champions.

Over the next three years from 1993–95, UNA amassed a 41–1 record, which also encompassed three straight Gulf South Conference Championships and three consecutive NCAA Division II National Championships — the first three-peat in NCAA history. UNA also became the first program to achieve 40 wins in three seasons.

The only loss UNA suffered during this three-year period was to Youngstown State, a Division I-AA power at the time, losing narrowly, 17–14, following a field goal in the fourth quarter. Youngstown State went on to win the 1994 I-AA national championship.

During Wallace’s 10-year tenure, the UNA Lions competed in six NCAA playoffs and compiled an 82–36–1 record.

In 1995, UNA Lions were selected the “Best Team of the Quarter Century” in Division II, while Wallace was named Division II‘s “Coach of the Quarter Century.”

Following their third consecutive NCAA Division II Football Championship in 1995, the Lions were invited to the White House to meet President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, and members of Congress.[6]

Mark Hudspeth[edit]

UNA Lions emerging from the Lion Victory Tunnel at Braly Municipal Stadium before the start of a UNA home game in 2007.

Following a 4-year interlude under Bill Hyde, Mark Hudspeth assumed the head coaching job at UNA in 2002. After a disappointing first year, Hudspeth led the Lions to another string of Division II playoff games.[6]

In his first five seasons at UNA, Hudspeth posted the best record of any previous Lion head coach in their first five years – leading the Lions to a 44–17 mark, two Gulf South Conference titles, and three NCAA Division II playoff appearances. Hudspeth left UNA after the 2008 season to become an assistant under newly hired Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen.[17]

Terry Bowden[edit]

Former Auburn head coach Terry Bowden was named the new head coach on January 1, 2009. Bowden's brother, Jeff Bowden, also joined Terry at UNA as the WR coach.[18] Pre-season hype focused on Bowden's remedy to a re-building roster by acquiring over twenty-five transfers from Division I schools including several from his father's Florida State team. The 2009 campaign would climax late in the season with an undefeated 10–0 record and the school's return to the #1 ranking for the first time since 1996. The season wrapped up with a UNA loss in the regional finals with an 11–2 record.

Bowden left after the 2011 season to take the head coaching job at Akron.[19]

Bobby Wallace (second stint)[edit]

Wallace returned in 2012 for a second stint as head coach after Bowden's departure. Wallace led the Lions to four consecutive Gulf South Conference Championships and NCAA post-season appearances. Wallace ranks as the winningest football coach in Gulf South Conference history with 149 wins in his 19 years in the league. The 2012 season was a transition year for the Lions who finished fourth in the conference standings with a 5–5 overall record. After a successful off-season, the 2013 Lions had an impressive 10–3 record and shared the GSC title with in-state rival West Alabama. In 2014 Wallace led UNA to a 9–2 record that included winning a share of a second straight GSC Championship and a second straight berth in the Division II Playoffs.[20] In 2015, coach Wallace led the Lions to a 9–3 record and shared their third consecutive GSC Championship with West Georgia and another Division II Playoff appearance. Wallace won his fourth consecutive GSC title outright in 2016 by going undefeated in conference play and received a fourth straight berth to the Division II Playoffs as the No. 1 seed in Region II. The Lions defeated UNC-Pembroke 41–17 in the second round, shutout North Greenville 38-0 in the quarterfinals, and went on to the semifinals winning at Shepherd 23–13, advancing to the national championship game. UNA fell to Northwest Missouri State 29–3 in the national championship and finished No. 2 in the final AFCA poll. Coach Wallace retired from UNA on December 20, 2016. Wallace finished his 15-year career at UNA with a 126–51–1 (.711) record, making him the winningest football coach in school history.

Chris Willis[edit]

Chris Willis was named head coach on December 22, 2016. Coach Willis has spent fifteen years on the UNA football staff and five years as defensive coordinator. Willis finished the 2017 season with a 5-5 record, avoiding the school's first losing season since 2002. The Lions finished 6th in the GSC and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2012.

All-time record vs. current GSC teams[edit]

Official record against all current GSC opponents as of the end of the 2017 season:[21]

Opponent Won Lost Tied Percentage Streak First meeting
Delta State 34 26 1 .566 Won 3 1960
Florida Tech 4 0 0 1.000 Won 4 2013
Mississippi College 18 14 2 .559 Won 8 1963
Shorter 6 0 0 1.000 Won 6 2012
Valdosta State 25 16 1 .607 Won 3 1983
West Alabama 52 18 1 .739 Lost 1 1949
West Florida 1 1 0 .500 Lost 1 2016
West Georgia 22 13 0 .629 Lost 1 1983
Totals 162 88 5 .645

Division II Playoffs results[edit]

The Lions appeared in the Division II playoffs twenty-one times with an overall record of 35–18. They were National Champions in 1993, 1994, and 1995.

Year Round Opponent Result
1980 Quarterfinals
Virgina Union
Eastern Illinois
W 17–8
L 31–56
1983 Quarterfinals
Virgina Union
Central State
W 16–14
L 24–27
1985 Quarterfinals
National Championship
Fort Valley State
North Dakota State
W 14–7
W 34–0
L 7–35
1989 First Round Jacksonville State L 14–38
1992 First Round
Jacksonville State
W 33–21
L 12–14
1993 First Round
National Championship
Texas A&M-Kingsville
W 38–28
W 45–20
W 27–25
W 41–34
1994 First Round
National Championship
Valdosta State
North Dakota
Texas A&M-Kingsville
W 17–13
W 27–24 2OT
W 35–7
W 16–10
1995 First Round
National Championship
Albany State
Ferris State
Pittsburg State
W 38–28
W 28–7
W 45–7
W 27–7
1997 First Round Carson-Newman L 6–23
2003 First Round
Southern Arkansas
North Dakota
W 48–24
W 41–9
L 22–29
2005 First Round
Second Round
Valdosta State
N.C. Central
Central Arkansas
Northwest Missouri State
W 40–13
W 24–21
W 41–38 OT
L 25–26
2006 Second Round
Delta State
W 38–20
L 10–27
2007 Second Round
Delta State
Valdosta State
W 20–17
L 23–37
2008 Second Round
Valdosta State
Delta State
Northwest Missouri State
W 37–10
W 55–34
L 7–41
2009 Second Round
Arkansas Tech
W 41–28
L 21–24
2010 First Round
Second Round
Valdosta State
Delta State
W 43–20
L 24–47
2011 First Round
Second Round
West Alabama
Delta State
W 43–27
L 14–42
2013 First Round
Second Round
UNC Pembroke
W 30–27
W 37–13
L 39–42
2014 First Round Valdosta State L 31–33
2015 First Round
Second Round
W 50–7
L 31–35
2016 Second Round
National Championship
UNC Pembroke
North Greenville
Northwest Missouri State
W 41–17
W 38–0
W 23–13
L 3–29

Future non-conference opponents[edit]

2018 2019 2020
@ Alabama A&M vs Western Illinois @ Western Illinois
@ North Dakota State vs Alabama A&M
@ Incarnate Word

NFL Draft Picks[edit]

Draft Player Pos Team Round Pick
1954 Harlon Hill WR Chicago Bears 15th N/A
1961 Sammy Smith HB Denver Broncos (AFL) 27th N/A
1980 Curtis Sirmones RB San Diego Chargers 8th 219
1980 William Bowens LB Oakland Raiders 5th 128
1980 Marcene Emmett DB Washington Redskins 12th 327
1981 Jerry Hill WR Washington Redskins 11th 284
1985 Daryl Smith DB Denver Broncos 9th 250
1986 Lewis Billups DB Cincinnati Bengals 2nd 38
1986 Bruce Jones DB Chicago Bears 7th 194
1986 Billy Witt DE Buffalo Bills 11th 282
1987 Chris Goode RB Indianapolis Colts 10th 253
1988 Shawn Lee DT Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6th 163
1988 Wendell Phillips DB San Diego Chargers 12th 324
1996 Israel Raybon DE Pittsburgh Steelers 5th 163
1996 Jarius Hayes TE Arizona Cardinals 7th 212
1996 Marcus Keyes DT Chicago Bears 7th 233
1999 Bobby Collins TE Buffalo Bills 4th 122
1999 Tyrone Bell DB San Diego Chargers 6th 178
2012 Janoris Jenkins DB St. Louis Rams 2nd 39

Program achievements[edit]

Alabama Collegiate Conference Champions 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963
Gulf South Conference Champions 1980, 1983, 1985, 1993, 1994, 1995, 2003, 2006, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
NCAA Division II Team Playoff Participants 1980, 1983, 1985, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
NCAA Division II Regional Championships 1980, 1983, 1985, 1993, 1994, 1995, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2016
NCAA Division II National Championships 1993, 1994, 1995


  1. ^ "Official Colors". Retrieved September 10, 2016. 
  2. ^ "North Alabama to join Big South football in 2019". Stats FCS Football. 
  3. ^ McKillop, Andrew (May 31, 2013). "History of FBS (I-A) vs. NCAA Division II/III & NAIA". FootballGeography. Retrieved October 20, 2015. 
  4. ^ "UNA Football History". 
  5. ^ Goens, Mike (February 24, 1989). "What it wasn't was football for early Lions". TimesDaily. p. 15E. Retrieved October 20, 2015 – via Google News Archive. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f "The History of UNA Football". University of North Alabama Athletics. January 19, 2011. Archived from the original on July 23, 2011. Retrieved October 20, 2015. 
  7. ^ "UNA Records Book" (PDF). 
  8. ^ "2016 Football Schedule". 
  9. ^ "UNA and Alabama A&M Renew Football Rivalry". 
  10. ^ "UNA Records Book" (PDF). 
  11. ^ "UNA Records Book" (PDF). 
  12. ^ "2017 Football Schedule". 
  13. ^ "UNA Accepts ASUN Division I Invitation" (Press release). North Alabama Lions. December 6, 2016. Retrieved June 5, 2017. 
  14. ^ "North Alabama To Join Big South Football in 2019" (Press release). Big South Conference. December 6, 2016. Retrieved June 5, 2017. 
  15. ^ "Grubb selected UNA head coach". The Gadsden Times. December 12, 1976. p. 9. Retrieved October 20, 2015 – via Google News Archive. 
  16. ^ Slaughter, Josh (December 11, 2013). "MIAA tabbed to host NCAA Division II championships". Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association. Retrieved October 20, 2015. 
  17. ^ "Head Football Coach Mark Hudspeth – 2007". Archived from the original on October 16, 2007. Retrieved October 20, 2015. 
  18. ^ Zenor, John (January 2, 2009). "Terry Bowden takes over at North Alabama". Salisbury Post. Associated Press. Retrieved October 20, 2015. 
  19. ^ Turner, John (December 22, 2011). "Terry Bowden leaving North Alabama to become head coach at Akron". The Huntsville Times. Retrieved October 20, 2015. 
  20. ^ "University of North Alabama – 2015 Football Coaching Staff: Bobby Wallace". University of Northern Alabama Athletics. Retrieved October 20, 2015. 
  21. ^ "2016 UNA Football Record" (PDF). 

External links[edit]