As I was watching Alabama’s total dismantling of Notre Dame in the BCS title game last night, I just shook my head and wondered why so many people seem to be hating on that program.
Ok, Nick Saban isn’t exactly Mr. Personality and Alabama fans do seem to have a bit of an I’m better than you attitude, but don’t you have to admire what Saban has done with this program?
Three national titles in four years in this day and age of parity in sports is truly amazing and that’s what Alabama has accomplished. If you count the title he won at LSU, Saban has now won four national titles; only Bear Bryant has more. That’s pretty good company.
I had to laugh at the end of the game when the Alabama players were going to give Saban the traditional Gatorade shower; when they did it, they did not pour it directly over his head…they didn’t dare mess up his hair. And when they did it, did you see Saban’s face? He didn’t smile and in fact seemed to be annoyed by it, but I’m sure he would take a few more of those if his teams keep winning national titles.
But that snapshot of Saban in that moment is what makes Saban the winner he is; he is driven, he is demanding of himself, his coaches and his players, he is single minded in his purpose and most importantly of all, his teams have bought in to his philosophy. I’m sure they don’t always like it but you can’t argue with its success. Even after the win, Saban invoked his “two day” rule; you enjoy the win for a couple of days and go right to work for next year.
Yet it was interesting to hear quarterback A.J. McCarron say they called a team meeting to “refocus” because of the distractions presented to the team with being in Miami with all its night life and things to do that could get a player or a team in trouble. Even with all of Saban’s discipline, these are after all, young people playing the game, and it took the team leaders to get back their focus, but that too, is a sign of discipline, that comes from Saban.
I have always admired athletic excellence, whether from a team or an individual and what Alabama has accomplished deserves, even if grudgingly, at least respect if not admiration. It is HARD to win nowadays in college athletics and to win three championships in four years is bordering on a word Saban does not like to use…dynasty.
But wait, we can only talk about that for one more day.
Saban wouldn’t want me talking about last year; he will already be focusing on next year.