It’s a new year and a new season for NCAA football. Every football team in America will have new players to talk about and they will also be without some of their most-experienced players from the 2012 season. Media Days will spark more debate than they should and will likely reignite existing prejudices and cross-conference animosity. There’s even a new annual college football video game out already.
Meanwhile, Alabama is still the reigning leader of college football. We are the champions.
Will Alabama win the 2013 BCS National Championship, the last of its kind, and bring home a third crystal football in a row? For now, I say it doesn’t matter. The 2013 season hasn’t started yet, and until it does, we are the champions. It’s time to remind everyone of that, and it’s time for us to enjoy it.
Everyone is coming for Alabama. Texas A&M thinks they can take Alabama out on their home turf early in the season with an explosive adolescent and an offensive plan designed implicitly for their inability to compete against a superior football team man-to-man. It worked once. But it still didn’t earn TAMU a championship. Instead, we are the champions.
Virginia Tech opens the season as the perfect test to remind the Crimson Tide what sixty minutes of hard hits and tight secondary coverage feels like. They’re largely discounted against Alabama, maybe unjustly so, but perhaps it’s not entirely unfair since the Hokies are not the champions. We are the champions.
Tennessee fans can remember when their lakes were filled with land-locked boat docks instead of on the verge of overflowing as they are today. They can reminisce about Phil Fulmer, forget about Lane Kiffin, and ignore Derek Dooley long enough to get excited about Butch Jones. I’ll admit I’m excited about Butch Jones, too. But while Tennessee beings to rebuild for the third time in a decade, we are the champions.
Ole Miss replaced their unfortunately-timed mascot with the highest-rated Mississippi recruiting class to date. Will their exceptional recruiting on the defensive side of the ball mitigate the damage control on the offensive side? Recruiting is important for a top-ten team, but essential for a championship football team. And we are the champions.
The Big Ten will once again pretend it’s fair to argue against any SEC team’s schedule strength while at the same time ignoring the scheduling complexity for teams in conferences like the ACC that willingly schedule more SEC teams in a given season than the best Big Ten teams will play in a graduating class. This year, The Ohio State University has a freshly-paved road with a single speed bump on their way to an automatic BCS title game bid, not to mention the most well-funded campaign for a Heisman winner (yes, winner) before the season even starts. Last year, impressively, the Buckeyes were undefeated. And we are the champions.
And finally, we look ahead to the greatest rivalry game in sports, the Iron Bowl. Auburn wants to beat the best, not necessarily be the best. That “offensive odor” you may have noticed in the Yellowhammer State the past few months may be from the steaming pile of hurry-up-no-huddle pie brought back by “offensive guru” Gus Malzahn. While millions of fans hold their breath in anticipation of one of the key elements from their once-in-a-lifetime season coming back to confuse, misdirect and misuse the rules of college football, we instead hold our breath because it smells like a metric ton of tiger poop in a structure fire, and we remind ourselves why Alabama’s name shows up on the walls and in the minds every day of our little-brother rival; we are the champions.
As I write this, there are forty-six days left until Alabama takes the field again and attempts to reclaim its dominance, starting with Virginia Tech and a strong Hokies core of linemen. Enjoy it. Enjoy being a part of the team that earned it in 2012 as the 2013 season and all its question marks approaches. And make no mistake; if you were at any Alabama football game last season, you are part of that team. Anyone who suggests fans of any team don’t deserve any of the credit is simultaneously discounting their impact on the field and their ability to affect positive change off the field. Fans matter. Go to your closet today, get out your crimson and white shakers, shirts and skirts, and deliberately remind everyone else the one thing so many of them wish they could forget (again). Remind them that we are Alabama, we are legion, and we are the champions. Roll Tide.