have a 2008 Tide Magazine that shares the 2008-2009 season results, with Alabama winning 12 games, being ranked no. 1 for the last 4 games of the season, eventually losing to Florida in the SEC Championship and Utah at the Sugar Bowl. It was the first time Alabama had been ranked No. 1 since 1980 and it was only Coach Saban's second year at Alabama. In the magazine, Cory Reamer shared in an article that he was very proud of the season, yet there was still work to be done. A system was in place and it was time to get back to work. And back to work did they ever..
The next 3 years of National Championships (the one year they didn't win, 2010, with a team I thought was loaded.. I personally contested was the year the last 7 STRAIGHT OPPONENTS Alabama faced that year had two weeks to prepare for Alabama.. 7!!!!!.. I had been watching football for 40+ years and never seen anything like it.. Alabama was ranked No. 1, yet lost to 3 of those opponents.. including the Camera Newton comeback.. not to add sour grapes to this post.. but I thought the Tide was hungry and capable in 2010, yet faced for the first time in a long while what being the reigning National Champions was like.. against 7 STRAIGHT OPPONENTS with 2 weeks to prepare).. When the Tide of 2010 finally got their chance to prepare, Michigan State was the unfortunate opponent on the other side of the ball.
The 2011 and 2012 seasons were two more "back to work" seasons.. I don't doubt the Auburn comeback of 2008 didn't add some of the necessary fuel to turn the Tide.. it is more just how much fuel.. Yet, even with these stellar seasons of outstanding players, excellent coaching, big time wins.. the Tide had to have some help from other teams to get their opportunity to demonstrate on a National Level they were the best!
(as a side note, it was also interesting to see Coach Saban's choice of progression with the quarterback position.. with McElroy, Coach Saban held his cards pretty tight to his chest.. and, with McCarron in his first season, it was much the same.. yet, the skill level of McCarron, the further establishment of the system, among what were the real factors Coach Saban knows (and I can't speak for), the offense became a weapon that could not only make the big play at anytime.. yet also take it down the field in a 2 minute drill for a win in hostile territory.
This 2013, Alabama set out to do what no other team had done (based on what time frame I don't have with me) and that was win 3 NC's in a row.. Looking back, what a remarkable season.. Alabama again started out with their Kickoff Classic.. (and I have always been so impressed with how Alabama is prepared for these types of hyped games).. and later beat the team that beat them last year.. all gearing up for LSU and again, winning again against a team (in my estimation.. matched up very well with Alabama talent wise.. I thought LSU was and is one of the most talented teams in the country).. all winding down to the Iron Bowl..
The Iron Bowl they say throw the records out the window.. well, ok.. but Auburn's winning all their games except for LSU and being able to hold their ground with them at Baton Rouge I believe gave them confidence and hope.. It certainly did the fans.. what a crowd! I also believe the recent memory of their comeback at Alabama also gave them hope.. Additionally, not to throw fire on Auburn's parade.. yet they two had 2 WEEKS TO PREPARE FOR THE GAME.. additionally, again not to take anything away from Auburn.. but there opponents for most if not all of the year was the opposition against a team that won only 4 games last year.. If you recall the notes earlier, Alabama has been playing against the opposition as the NO. 1 TEAM IN THE NATION SINCE 2008.. for 5 straight years, Coach Saban has had to prepare a game plan to play against opposition that needed no reason to get hyped for the game.. they were playing the NO. 1 TEAM IN THE NATION.. given that information.. I could be wrong here, but I believe those games have an additive effect.. meaning.. as the record, NC's, and games as NO. 1 continue, so does the pressure of holding that position..
The Iron Bowl had all of that.. and, again, on a personal perspective, that is the tightest I have seen Alabama be in years... the mistakes... out of position plays.. (the defense running on and off the field; hindsight is 20/20, but it looked like many times the defense could never settle in with all the changes going on).. missed passes.. etc. all had an air of "lookout" throughout the game.. yet, even with all of this, AJ brought Alabama back and gave them the lead.. he even got them in position to potentially win the game.. with all the odds noted against them.. Alabama was still in position to play for the SEC Championship and potentially the NC.. and, this time around it wasn't meant to be.. yet, in 2 of the previous 3 NC's, it may not have been "meant-to-be" either (outside of the 14-0 2009 season).
So, with all this being said, I just want to say, thank you Coach Saban and staff, thank you team(s), thank you fans.. for "What a Ride" it has been for this Tide fan.. I will never forget these great years of Alabama football..
And, as a last note, I would like to congratulate Auburn on a fine season.. and, with the Auburn team and fans, I stop the conversation there.. but for the Alabama team and fans, this comment is for the True Tide Only .. Alabama is STILL THE TEAM TO BEAT THIS YEAR.. and how do I know that?
Auburn will go into the NC game as a double digit underdog.. and rightfully so.. STOP THE PRESSES THERE.. if.. and I know there is not an "if", but if Alabama were playing Florida State tomorrow.. again, if Alabama were playing Florida State tomorrow.. (even with the Auburn loss on the books).. in a neutral site.. I would "guess" the Vegas odds with be even.. pick'em.. so, not only would Alabama be seen by others as a more qualified team to match up with Florida State, I would also "guess" no other team in the country would have those same odds..
In conclusion.. I am so, so proud of the Alabama team, coaching staff, and faithful.. now.. I want to see the 2013-2014 team get ready for the Sooners like they did for Michigan State in 2010-2011.. and, get those recruits in here, regroup, and, "GET BACK TO WORK" FOR ANOTHER NC YEAR.. ROLL TIDE ROLL!