I’m not normally one for commemorative editions of a championship: sports are too fluid, and, being an optimist at heart, I always hope more wins are on the horizon. But, at the end of an incredibly emotional and cathartic 2017 CFP run, I was pleasantly surprised to evaluate the most recent entry by Christopher Walsh, Bama Dynasty (Victory Books, ISBN 978-1-629370492-5).
This glossy full-color trade paperback has everything you’d expect from a seasonal yearbook: game-by-game recaps, stats of note, and the like. But, a few things do really stand out.
The first is that Walsh, a professional sportswriter with the ACJ’s SEC Country, really “gets it.” And I don’t mean that Bama Dynasty caters to the super Gump lurking within us, although it does that to be sure. Rather, there is significant focus on the magnitude of the decision that Nick Saban made at halftime, the coaching job he did holding this team together throughout the regular season, and how both tie into not only Alabama and college football lore, but Saban’s unique legacy as well. Walsh’s attempt to define what constitutes a dynasty and recap previous Saban championships really gives a nice flavor for each of his prior four title years at Alabama. Thus, the larger dynasty serves as a canvas, while 2017 is juxtaposed nicely against those other teams. That is unique.
The second thing of note is the photography. You expect great photos for commemorative editions, and other competing products deliver as well. But,, — trust me — the ones in this volume are sumptuous, biographical, well-chosen, and put you as close to the action as a spectator can be.
The final thing that resonated, and this may be my personal quirk, is that Bama Dynasty provides several biographical sketches and interviews with players. But, rather than going for merely the all-stars or the future NFL Draft picks, Walsh painstakingly, lovingly even, focuses on guys like Ronnie Clark and Levi Wallace. Readers here are no stranger to our love of guys like that generally, and those two players specifically. They both have excellent stories to tell, and Clark’s in particular is truly inspirational for those who see their dreams derailed by the circumstances of life. Walsh, again, “gets it.” and paints as much a lesson in humanity as a thumbnail of a college athlete.
Bama Dynasty is only $14.95, and at 128 pages, the photos and the knowledgeable care that Walsh takes to speak to his audience are alone worth the cash. Again, I normally don’t review or purchase or recommend yearbooks. But, I make a notable, and pleasurable, exception for Bama Dynasty.