Shane: Alabama football is back on top

By Shane from Centerpoint
Like a huge tidal wave that rises from the flat ocean surface after an earthquake explodes underneath, University of Alabama football is quickly rolling forward while establishing itself as one of the top-three college football programs in the nation. Nick Saban (the Tide’s earthquake) appears to be as relentless as his reputation indicates in his quest to return Alabama football to its rightful place among the best.

It’s a known fact that Saban landed a 10th ranked recruiting class, followed by two number-ones. Everybody who knows anything about college football knows that all those “blue-chip” players will add up to victories on the gridiron. Great players are the cornerstone of championship football and Nick Saban is a magnet.

There are quite a few other things Saban is doing as well. If you look a little closer at some of the calculated maneuvers that Coach Saban’s utilized since he took over the program, it doesn’t take long to understand that he is marching the Crimson Tide toward being the national centerpiece of college football.

The back-to-back season kick-off games in the Georgia Dome, containing all the elements that give the nation a positive view of the Alabama program, have excellent P.R. value while allowing Saban to use the venue for two major purposes: as a recruiting tool and to gain respect from the voters because the game involves a major opponent.

Coach Saban started something special his first A-day scrimmage. Tide fans fired a shot around the country by answering Nick’s call to pack Bryant-Denny stadium. The media, as well as every young athlete across the South, witnessed the largest spring attendance in the history of the college game. Now ESPN, the premier sports entertainment and information television network resourced by young people, is about to put Alabama in the spotlight by featuring the A-day game. Talk about an excellent way to convince the best players that Bama is the place to spend your collegiate career!

The recent decision by the state athletic association to move the high school football championship games to the campuses of Alabama’s two football powerhouses will play a major role in keeping the best in-state talent at home. The fact that Saban (Alabama) gets to host the game first only stands to enhance his dominance inside the borders of this state, continuing the onslaught from the past two years. It almost seems rigged that Saban gets it before Auburn. Must’ve been his original idea.

We can’t forget the “monster” statement the Athletic Department made when they committed to reaching an “elite” status by expanding Bryant-Denny stadium to over 100,000 seats. Throw in the 25-30,000 tailgaters who gather outside and you have an event that makes every aspiring young football player want to be the star of the show. A tour shows that every facet of the football complex is ultra-modern and designed to ultimately impress potential recruits. The entire operation exudes first-class and clearly shows Alabama’s commitment to compete with the best for the best.

Every young college player wants to participate in one of those legendary contests that pits two long-time rivals against each other on national television. Moving the Alabama/Auburn game (Iron Bowl) to the Friday after Thanksgiving Day will only bring more direct focus on the programs as families across the United States gather to eat turkey-day leftovers and watch America’s favorite pastime.

What’s next for Saban? What other innovative ideas – designed to advance the “process”- does he have left in his playbook? One thing is evident –- Nick Saban understands what it takes to get to the top and how only hard work keeps you there. He isn’t afraid to put Alabama on the front line and is preparing his program to enjoy sustained success for years to come.

—Shane writes a weekly column for the Capstone Report.