This post is sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 2011.
It's a real testament to the way Nick Saban has so thoroughly shaped the culture of Alabama football that the word "expectations" makes most of us recoil in disgust. I've already quoted Kirby Smart's speech from the 2010 Coach of the Year Clinic, but today's topic demands an excerpt from the Nicktator himself:
We have a pyramid of success that has nothing to do with winning a game. I have a tape I can show you of players, talking about their goals for the season. Not one time did they talk about winning a game. They talked about all the things you have to do to win a game. The word winning is not mentioned. Dominating is mentioned a lot.
We have to get away from all the external, result-oriented types of things because that is the world we live in. That is what creates expectations and sometimes leads to performances in a negative way with the players. You have to get that out of your program.
I post that here because I think it's important to differentiate "expectations" and "hopes" when it comes to our beloved Tide. I hope we can repeat as both SEC and BCS champions, and I hope we do so by going undefeated. I hope I don't develop an ulcer every time our special teams come on the field. I hope I live through the surely inevitable growing pains of the secondary, and I hope I make it through because Marcell Dareus and Courtney Upshaw are nightmares off the edge. I hope Trent Richardson gets a look as a kick returner because he's got the open field speed of Javy but also the insane physical power of Ingram. I hope a lot of things for this season, but when it comes to what I expect, well that's a different story all together.
We've freaked out over a lot of aspects of the coming season and OTS did a pretty comprehensive job of summing up the challenges we'll face just the other day, but at the end of the day all of that is just well educated guesses. So what can we really "expect" from Alabama in 2010? Not much more than a physical, disciplined football team. Saban has openly preached his desire to have a team that nobody wants to play because of the effort, toughness, and discipline on display from first snap to last. One more from the Nicktator:
Relentless is like Freddy Krueger. All those horror guys have on thing in common: you cannot kill them. That is how you want your players to compete. In the movies, you think you have Freddy, and his hand comes through the wall and chokes you to death. That is the way we want our team to play. That is the way we want the opponent to feel. Whether we win or lose the down, we are coming back to play with the same kind of effort, toughness, and discipline. The teams we played this year could not match our intensity for 60 minutes.
And that, friends, is what I expect from this team. I expect them to go out each and every game and work to dominate whoever they are lined up against. I expect them to go hard on every down. I expect each one to do his job trusting that the other 10 guys next to him are doing theirs, too. And that's honestly the only thing that we can expect of our team. They can't control what the other team does, so they have to focus on what they do, and that's go out there with the mindset that they will flat outwork the opponent until he can't take anymore. After all, if it means something to you, you can't stand still...
That's our trademark, that's our M.O.