Tuesday, August 14, 2012
State of the brand: Alabama Crimson Tide
By Alex Scarborough
Editor's note: RecruitingNation is taking a look at the state of each team's brand.
On April 14, Alabama's crystal football was shattered, dislodged from its stand by the parent of a player walking the halls of the athletics department on A-Day. The janitorial staff came by to sweep up the mess later, pushing brilliant shards of Waterford Crystal into a dingy dustpan.
Coach Nick Saban and the Alabama administration didn't bat an eye at the $30,000 accident.
Saban's response: "Look, we'll get another one."
No big deal, it's just a trophy. There are plenty of those lying around these days in Tuscaloosa, Ala., as well as the expectation of more to come.
The football program has traveled along those lines since Saban arrived in 2007. It took a few years to get to BCS form, and now that it has, no one is looking back -- not even to January and the Tide's 14th national title.
"We had a team meeting two days after we got back from New Orleans, and I told the team immediately 'This is not the national championship team. Some of you guys played on that team, but this is not that team,’ ” Saban said.
The team isn't the same, but the program remains on the same upward trajectory. Saban and his staff continue to stockpile four- and five-star recruits and turn them into NFL prospects after three of four years, winning a national title or two along the way.
What Saban calls "The Process" has been working with remarkable efficiency.
In three seasons, Alabama has won two national titles, an SEC championship, produced 18 first-team All-Americans, 24 NFL draft picks -- 11 coming in the first round. All that since 2008. No other team in the country can lay claim to those statistics.
It's what the calling card of the program has become: winning on Saturdays on the way to playing on Sundays.
On the cover of the 2012 media guide, Alabama senior defense end Damion Square holds his hand out in front of him, balled into a fist, showing off four championship rings -- one for each of the sports at Alabama to claim national titles in past calendar year.
Saban's drive for trophies has been infectious at Alabama. Gymnastics, women's golf and softball all won NCAA titles during the last eight months. Men's golf came within a stroke of beating Texas for the championship and the basketball team made the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006.
Each one of those teams will accept their championship rings at the heartbeat of all Alabama athletics: Bryant-Denny Stadium. It will be a momentary break in the action, usually reserved for halftime. More than 90,000 crimson-clad fans will stand and applaud each team's success. Then, they'll sit back down and wait for the game to begin again.
After all, football is what matters here.
The billboards scattered throughout Tuscaloosa and the rest of the state count titles won on the gridiron, and with Saban at the helm, they expect that number to continue to grow -- even if a few trophies are broken along the way.