In a game billed as the biggest BCS Championship game of all-time, the Alabama Crimson Tide shredded what was supposed to be an impenatrable Notre Dame defense for 529 yards and six touchdowns. This from a team, remember (and how can we forget), that had only given up nine defensive touchdowns on the year.
Didn’t you hear? The Fighting Irish were hungry, and Alabama was complacent, fat and happy. Alabama was the Miami of 1992, and Notre Dame was playing the role of that year’s Alabama. And to boot, the Tide did stay at the Fontain Bleau.
But instead of following the media scripts that had been written and orated over, and over, and over for this game, 2012’s version of the Crimson Tide did what Alabama does best: Quietly going about its business, methodically healing and getting ready for the next game. Then obliterating the opponent once the lights were on.
The nation’s darling, Brian Kelly’s Fighting Irish, wasn’t Western Kentucky, though at times Monday night you might have thought so. This was a team that had climbed the ladder of success, from unranked in the preseason polls to 12-0 and #1 in the land.
But once again, the promise Nick Saban made on January 3, 2007 rang true. Alabama is the team you simply do not want to play. Saban’s version of Alabama is a wrecking ball that crushes your hopes and dreams, taking what was a prestine season of glory and smashing it to pieces before your very eyes.
Ask the LSU of 2011, capping a 13-0 season with a 21-0 shut-out at the hands of the Tide.
Ask Texas of 2009, doing the same in the Big 12, only to be slapped into submission.
Ask Georgia of 2012, whose paws were this close to reaching relevance again after 30+ years of irrelevance, only to be outdone in regulation.
And now ask Notre Dame of 2012, wandering for almost 25 years since their last taste of glory.
But while Alabama is a team you don’t want to play, it is a team you do want to play for. So much so that when you hear of a top player going elsewhere, immediately eyebrows are raised as to “what must be going on over there.”
Alabama is a place where a runningback like Eddie Lacy, buried on the depth chart behind Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, just has to wait his turn to become the BCS National Championship MVP. It’s a place where a freshman back-up like TJ Yeldon will see Lacy’s 140 yards and add 108 of his own, clutching a game or two along the way.
It’s a place that boasts one of the highest graduation rates of its athletes, not just in the SEC, but in the NCAA. It’s a place where moms and dads can be assured that not only can their son get a degree, most do it in three years, opening the door for graduate work on the University’s dime. It’s a place where the NFL’s 1st round isn’t just a recruiting pitch.
And it’s a place where if you’re the Alabama quarterback, there just might be a supermodel waiting to date you.
Nick Saban hates the word “dynasty” because it’s a word that indicates one is fat, happy and arrived. But ironically, this team that won it all had not arrived, even as of midnight Monday night. Far from the most talented team among the six Nick Saban has fielded at Alabama, Bama graduates just nine seniors. Some will jump to the NFL and get paid, but the core of this team of champions will suit up for battle again in just a few months.
That is Alabama head coach Nick Saban’s way…it’s never over. You’ve never arrived. And Notre Dame is just the latest victim to be processed in the process of his team getting better.
The humble man so many love to despise will take Tuesday off to enjoy what happened Monday, then get right back to work on Wednesday to get ready for the 2013 season. But what many have missed in all the NFL talk is that results aren’t what drive Nick Saban to be Nick Saban. All the “what else is left to be accomplished” talk is just clutter in the mind of the man who now only trails Bear Bryant himself as having the most championships.
Nick Saban is about the process. It’s what drives him. And on February 6, he’ll harvest a new crop of pupils to teach this process to, training them to be men, husbands, fathers, employees, bosses and individual human wrecking balls, crushing yet another team’s hopes, dreams and aspirations in 2013, and beyond.
Notre Dame 14
For the third time in four years, the Alabama Crimson Tide is your BCS National Champion, again.