We are 5-0. We are ranked nationally in the top five. We just received 23 first place votes. Three different BCS computer rankings have us as the number one team in the country. We have not trailed even for a single second this season. We dominated and embarrassed a top ten team in the season opener. We also dominated and embarrassed a top five team, and the preseason number one, on the road, in the face of their vaunted "blackout." Once again, "Alabama" is a buzz word in the national media. CBS even has us projected to play Oklahoma in the BCS National Championship Game.
And most importantly of all, none of it is a dream.
But what can you even say at this stage? To be sure, most of us felt that we would make a step in the right direction in 2008, but no one could have ever rationally and / or logically expected this. I'm not even sure what we have seen could have been seriously anticipated by even the most absurd and ridiculous of homer fans. Nevertheless, that is exactly what we have seen.
Most striking of all in our transformation is the improved play of returning players. I said before the season that if we were to have major success in 2008 we would need to see great development from the returning roster, because you simply cannot rely that heavily on true freshmen and consistently compete at the top end of this conference -- regardless of how highly-touted those freshmen might be -- but I certainly did not expect anything on this level.
And to be sure, as surprising as the resurgence of Alabama has been, it can certainly not be considered a fluke. We have not squeaked by anyone on any miracle scenarios, we have absolutely dominated everyone who has stood in our path. The only exception to that general rule thus far has been Tulane -- where our ultimate victory was never in serious doubt -- and frankly the better the opponent, the better we have played.
So where do we go from here? I would like to say that we will sail undefeated into the national championship game and win it all, but as appealing as that notion sounds, a dosage of sobering thoughts would likely be prudent at the moment.
The harsh truth of the matter is that the toughest is yet to come. Kentucky probably isn't that good, but they are a solid team that can certainly beat us, and a team that probably will beat us if we have another Tulane-esque hangover. A word of caution regarding their upset a year ago over then-#1 LSU should not fall on deaf ears. Moving forward, we've needed nothing short of divine intervention the past three years to hold off Ole Miss, and if they can go into Gainesville and get the victory, they can certainly do the same thing in Bryant-Denny. Tennessee, by all objective measures, looks to be a poor team, but even so they should come into the Alabama game with a 3-4 record in a must-win game where Fulmer's job may very well be on the line. Arkansas State is no powerhouse, but they are probably as good as Arkansas, if not better, and they will seriously contend for the Sun Belt title -- which is to speak nothing of their win over Texas A&M in the season opener. And if we go to Baton Rouge at 9-0, I think you could make a legitimate argument that game will be the biggest game ever in the history of Tiger Stadium. Moving forward, we still have to exorcise the demons against Mississippi State, and finally we have Auburn. Though the Tigers' offense currently looks like it was created by Porky Pig, it may be much improved by the time late November rolls around, and even if not you can rest assured that Tuberville will have his team ready to play in what is, perhaps, consistently the most physically punishing college football game played in the entire country.
Again, the worst is yet to come, and as exciting as things are right now, we haven't won anything yet. Nothing is a given from here on out, and each week presents its own set of unique, though very legitimate, concerns and challenges. We have plenty to feel confident about, but no one can ever know exactly how good we are and how we will respond to the future adversity that we will have to overcome in order to get to where we all want to go.
For now, though, despite the sobering thoughts, I am personally ecstatic about the current state of Alabama football. The past decade has been extremely difficult for the supporters of Alabama football, largely because on-field struggles is such a foreign concept to us all. You have to understand that, given our tradition of winning and championships that has spanned a century, we Alabama fans are essentially the ultimate spoiled rich kids. Our past success is sufficient to make anyone feel envious, and for a fanbase it is as if we have always dined exclusively on the finest caviar from the finest silver spoon. Hence why our struggles the past decade have been so difficult. It is not that they have been particularly unusual -- every program struggles occasionally -- but for a fanbase that has known little else aside from elitism and dominance, the mere thought of being largely irrelevant for the better part of a decade is something almost impossible to even comprehend. Nevertheless, that has been the harsh reality of Alabama football in the post-Stallings era. Anything that could have gone wrong did go wrong, and generally speaking we were relatively irrelevant in our own conference, much less the nation.
What I do emphatically know is that what we have seen the past decade is not Alabama football. The Dubose melodrama was not Alabama football, nor was the Franchione saga, nor Price's strip club antics, nor Club Shula. But what we've seen thus far this year, now that is Alabama football.
I don't know where we will go from here in the short term, but I do know that we are clearly heading in the right direction, and the progress is coming much quicker than anyone could have ever anticipated. Regardless of how the final three months of the season play out, it is clear that the best is yet to come, and I, like everyone else, am just elated that Alabama football is finally back.
For now, to quote the old classic rock song, I say, "Bother me tomorrow, today I'll buy no sorrow."