Shane: 2009 could be Bama’s year

Tide’s future looks bright after a season on the brink
By Shane from Centerpoint

I remember standing above the north end zone at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama during the Crimson Tide’s 1992 SEC Championship game against the Florida Gators thinking that Alabama could beat anybody. I say this because that particular Crimson Tide defense was one of the best I had ever seen. They didn’t let me down. After All-American cornerback Antonio Langham stole a Florida pass and returned it for a touchdown to seal the Gator’s fate and win the SEC, the big red elephants rolled on down to New Orleans and destroyed Heisman Trophy winner Gino Torretta and his Miami Hurricanes to become the undefeated national champion.

The second year of the Nick Saban era at Alabama was close to perfection as well. The only thing missing against the two “spread” teams that beat Alabama – losses that tainted an otherwise perfect 12-0 regular season – were two or three of the type defensive backs that coach Saban requires to run his style of defense efficiently enough to shut down today’s great modern offensive schemes. However, with a 12-win, 2-loss run, a stay of five-plus weeks as the number one football program in the country, and with a large group of even better players on the way, the Tide stands poised to make a reality the prediction that I made when Nick Saban arrived at the Capstone. I said that Alabama would win the national crown in 2009 (Saban’s 3rd year). I think it’s extremely possible, mainly due to a favorable schedule.

Before you jump down my throat, listen to the experts who command far more respect than I could ever hope to. The Atlanta Constitution’s, Tony Barnhart has Alabama ranked 4th in his pre-season poll. ESPN’s, Mark May has Bama at #4 as well. In fact, most of the pundits have Alabama in their top five.

Along with a favorable schedule that brings most of Alabama’s toughest opponents to Bryant-Denny stadium in Tuscaloosa, the Crimson Tide should sign a top three recruiting class in February and be deeper overall, as well as more talented at every position heading into the Virginia Tech game in Atlanta next fall.

Apparently the national experts are in agreement with my opinion that Nick Saban’s teams tend to get perpetually better as his “process” progresses. He will be loading up the stable again on signing day. Alabama fans should look forward to this year’s incoming class and next year will be no different. In my opinion, every place Saban coaches ends up with a team chocked-full of great football players. He has a knack for assembling football talent.

For the first time in years, Alabama fans can relax and look forward to next season’s opening kick-off. With the Tide program in Coach Saban’s hands, the future looks bright and Bama fans can hold their heads high. In two short years under the “Nicktator”, Alabama has regained most of the legendary reputation that makes them one of the most respected college football programs in the history of the game.

It’s an old cliché, but I’m convinced that “defense really does win championships”. Coach Saban, like “Bear” Bryant and Gene Stallings before him, is a master in the art of defense. Alabama’s defensive improvement from year one to year two was astounding. I believe year three will be even better, mainly because coach Saban has one of the best defensive minds around. Besides, his NFL type system will lure many great players who have an interest in playing defense at the next level.

After stacking a top-ten and a number-one recruiting class together, as well as a probable top-three group this year, Alabama is no longer rebuilding. When this year’s signing class is finished, the Tide will be reloaded. Talent will soon begin to overlap and quality competition during practice will build solid depth at every position, something Alabama hasn’t had in a decade.

Once, during the Shula era, after another embarrassing loss to an inferior opponent, I was livid. I told my dad – who was present – that I thought the program was going to remain stuck in mediocrity forever. My father spoke up and told me that as bad as it looks, Alabama would always come back to greatness. At the time I don’t think I believed that it would ever be possible again. As usual, Dad was right! In two short years Nick Saban has Bama on the brink. The timing of his arrival was perfect. Saban and Alabama are a perfect union of a championship coach and a school looking for championships.
[poll id=”14″]