Clemson win about attitude (& talent)

When one side goes against the enemy with the gods’ gift of stronger morale, then their adversaries, as a rule, cannot withstand them.
—Xenophon

There is no substitute for the right attitude. Xenophon wrote over 2,000 years ago on the importance of soldiers having the right frame of mind—morale. With morale inferior fighters can overcome superior foes. Did that happen Saturday evening in Atlanta? Was it a case of Alabama playing David to Clemson’s Goliath?

Or was it a case where Alabama’s recruiting success was the determinative factor?

Cicero said “The sinews of war are infinite money.” You could say the sinews of a football team are five-star recruits.

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No doubt it was a little of both. Even Homer said, you can’t fight beyond your strength.

You must have the right attitude and talent. On Saturday, Alabama had it.

The media is already stoking fan expectation. According to the AP, Bama’s on its way again: “Alabama lured Saban from the NFL last season to lead the 12-time national champs back to glory. Based on the opener, Saban and the Tide are on their way.”

One game isn’t a season, Saban warned. He was quick to quash any appearance of irrational exuberance from fans or players.

“This is just one game of a long season,” Saban said. “We have a lot of improvement [to make] as a team and hopefully we can build on what we did here tonight.”

Hold off on those Bama’s back declarations.

But fans have a right to be jubilant. Alabama defeated the favorite to win the ACC. Alabama looked dominating in primetime. Alabama’s offensive and defensive lines looked better than any line since Gene Stallings stalked the sidelines.

The offense clicked. At times I wondered if Homer Smith was calling plays. The offense moved with chemistry and purpose. It was magical.

Alabama fans will now throw Major Applewhite under the bus. And some of that is fair. Applewhite never fit on Saban’s staff. However, not all of last season’s malaise can be blamed on the departed offensive coordinator. Many of the problems down the stretch were less strategy and more attitude. When players won’t buy into what the coaches teach then you can’t expect great results.

Socrates probably summed it up best—“a disorderly mob is no more an army than a heap of building materials is a house.” Or in modern terms, an undisciplined team is no more a team than Pauly Shore is an actor.

While the disorderly past of Mike Shula is now a fading memory, there remain questions for this team to answer. Can it stand prosperity? How will it handle adversity?

The adversity question might be the most important one. It comes every season, and how the team handles it will tell just how good this team can be.