Commentary: Spring promising another strong Alabama football team for 2012 campaign & other random thoughts

When Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa, everyone knew it was the start of something special. Sure, rival fans wanted to pretend things would go bad. You heard many Auburn and Tennessee fans dreaming in statements like:

“Saban has never gone undefeated!” “Saban has never had back-to-back 10-win seasons!” “Saban won’t recruit at Alabama like he did at LSU!”

The dreams have become a nightmare.

Saban has an undefeated season. Saban has notched straight seasons of 12, 14, 10 and 12 wins. Saban has recruited amazingly well, according to the recruiting experts at Rivals, Scout, ESPN and 247.

There were moments when things didn’t look so bright. During Saban’s first football season in Tuscaloosa, it was clear to everyone that much work had to be done.

And he did it.

By the next season (2008), Alabama was challenging for the SEC Championship. The Crimson Tide would claim the conference and national championship in 2009. Saban would add another national championship for the 2011 season.

With Spring Practice underway in Tuscaloosa, fans are excited at the prospect of another talented football team with a chance to contend for the conference and national title.

Can Alabama do it?

Reports from Spring Practice have A.J. McCarron showing more leadership on the offense. This will be an important step because Alabama will be forced to execute through the air. McCarron will be forced to hold others accountable since leaders like Trent Richardson, Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks have graduated or moved on to the NFL.

The quarterback’s leadership will be an important step to answering that question.

Random Thoughts

For those who have noticed, I’ve been a bit slower on updating the website over the last few months. It has been a crazy time. My mom died December 31. My first child—a son—was born in early February a couple of weeks early, but a very healthy 7 lbs. 9 oz.

Writing has been much more difficult with the combination of sadness, joy and exhaustion. For someone who for his entire adult life has made his living writing—this is something new. I suspect it will get better when I get a bit more sleep and the constant feeding every hour ends.

While trying to regain my writing momentum, I make sure to read. One weird thing I stumbled upon was Pat Robertson’s comments about the Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning situation. According to Fox Sports Robertson said, “And you just ask yourself, OK, so Peyton Manning was a tremendous MVP quarterback, but he’s been injured. If that injury comes back, Denver will find itself without a quarterback. And in my opinion, it would serve them right.”

While I’m sure many Alabama fans have cursed Peyton Manning, this injury comment is just wrong. It seems mean.

Could meanness like this be hampering the Gospel’s appeal?

It is one possibility. Over at Out of Ur, the Christianity Today blog, one writer suggested that the intertwining of conservative political activities with churches has undermined the ability of the church to appeal to young people.

According to Skye Jethani’s post Christianism Leads to Atheism, “So, we are left with a narrow path. Veer too far to the cultural right and the young will dismiss the church as a puppet of Republican politics. Veer too far to the theological left and the power of the Gospel is lost amid cultural accommodation.”

I’m not sure that taking a principled stand against abortion or for fair wages (conservative or liberal issues) is truly harming the appeal of churches to young people. However, there is something to the idea that religious personalities have tremendous influence on the larger culture.

From the same blog, “But my generation associates faith with Jerry Falwell, the Religious Right, political crusades, arguments about abortion and homosexuality, and a combative posture toward ‘liberal’ neighbors.”

Perhaps the problem isn’t what Falwell believed, but how some of it was said? Just like Robertson’s comments on Tebow. It is fine for Robertson to contend that Tebow did good things for Denver and deserved better. It is something else entirely to say that the Broncos and Manning deserve injury.

This is a problem of the rhetoric employed by many involved in political discourse and not the content of their positions. The modern media does a very good job of finding the most outlandish comment or the biggest idiot and magnifying that voice. It doesn’t take much to make one or two voices into the predominate voice of an entire movement.

It just shows how important it is for Christians to follow Paul’s exhortation in Colossians 4:6, “Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.” Christians should speak the truth, even when unpopular, but it should be gracious too.