Monday, January 7, 2013
Updated: January 8, 10:49 AM ET
Tide at pinnacle of college football
By Gene Wojciechowski
MIAMI -- Nick Saban is a perfectionist. We all know this. He looks at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and questions Michelangelo's color choices. He wonders if E really does equal mc².
But Saban is going to need an electron microscope to find much wrong with Alabama's 42-14 humiliation of Notre Dame in Monday's Discover BCS National Championship. It was so complete, so, well, perfect, that Bama should get a crystal trophy and a half for this one.
"I think it's pretty special what we accomplished," Saban said.
Wait? What? Did Saban really mean that? After all, this is a guy who can find fault with the shape of a snowflake.
"Whether I look it or not, I'm happy as hell," he said.
Happy and houndstooth were best friends Monday night. "Sweet Home Alabama" blared from the Sun Life Stadium loudspeakers as players waved just-issued newspapers with headlines that read "Bama Again!" Other players danced with Obie, the Orange Bowl mascot.
Crimson Tide athletic director Mal Moore, the consummate Southern gentleman who has been part of 10 Bama football national championships as a player, coach and AD, stood at the 25-yard line, surrounded by reporters. But when he turned a certain way, you could see a fresh lipstick kiss on his left cheek.
Roll Tide, Mal.
Anyway, we can pretty much hold a retirement party for the "Is Alabama a Dynasty?" debate. The Crimson Tide are not only a dynasty, they're the program other football teams want to be when they grow up.
This is Bama's second consecutive national championship, its third in four seasons. If this keeps up, they're going to have to rename the trophy The Nicky, or ask the Tide to join the NFC South.
"Dynasty," said senior long-snapper Carson Tinker. "I say it all day. Unprecedented. Dynasty, man!"
Do you know how hard it is to get to a national title game? Saban and Bama not only get there, but they keep coming back. And they keep winning. It is beyond impressive, it's historic.
"I don't think words like 'dynasty' are really words I'm much interested in," Saban said. "We're interested in 'accomplishment' and 'consistency' and 'performance.'"
|Apparently Alabama's Nick Saban has had it with fellow football coaches taking shots at him.|
Sorry, but this is bigger than Saban and his football dictionary. Dynasties are a rarity, and we're living in the middle of one now. Saban can try to pretend it doesn't exist, but that's like trying to ignore the Big Al in the room.
This latest championship wasn't about him, he said. None of them are. This was about a team, Saban said, "that exceeded every expectation we had of them."
The three proudest teams in America today are Alabama, Texas A&M and Georgia. Bama, for the obvious reasons; the Aggies, because they're the only ones to have beaten the Tide this season; Georgia, because it was 5 yards short from upsetting Bama in the SEC championship.
And then there's Notre Dame, which entered the BCS championship as the nation's No. 1-ranked program but didn't leave it that way. Let's be honest, it was never a game.
Notre Dame was officially dead leprechaun walking with 13:37 remaining in the second quarter. That's when the Fighting Irish, already trailing by three touchdowns, decided to try to convert a fourth-and-5 from Alabama's 39-yard line.
Goodbye, Notre Dame.
If you want, you can crack wise about Notre Dame: that Heisman finalist Manti Te'o played more like Boyti Te'o.
That the Irish marching band crossed midfield more often than the actual football team.
That the Irish had a "Bridesmaids" movie moment; you know the scene, just after the women eat lunch at the Brazilian steak restaurant?
But it wasn't as though Notre Dame phoned it in. It didn't. It's just that Alabama was wayyyyyy up here, and ND was wayyyyyyy down there.
"For one of the first times this season, we were able to play a complete game," said Tide running back Eddie Lacy, who gained 140 yards and scored twice.
I'm still not sure Bama quarterback AJ McCarron, who completed 20 of 28 passes for 264 yards and four touchdowns, was ever touched by a Notre Dame defender. He had so much time to throw that there weren't enough Mississippis to count to. His jersey barely had a grass stain on it.
Dynasty. I say it all day. Unprecedented. Dynasty, man!
-- Senior long-snapper Carson Tinker
And remember all that pregame gushing about the Tide's offensive line? Turns out we didn't gush enough. Bama's linemen should have been named the game's Most Outstanding Player(s). Instead, the honor went to Lacy.
Meanwhile, Bama's defense neutralized Notre Dame's one offensive advantage (tight end Tyler Eifert), duct-taped the Irish running game to the turf and turned quarterback Everett Golson into an afterthought. At times, Golson had the look of someone who had just been asked to recite the U.S. Constitution. Backward.
Saban's team held hands with perfection for large chunks of the game. Midway through the third quarter, the Tide led 35-0. The game had a mercy-rule feel to it.
Meanwhile, Saban threw a few sideline hissy fits, but I'm not sure his heart was into it. He fumed at a side judge. He steamed over a Notre Dame third-down conversion. But after a while, why bother, right?
Saban has a 24-hour celebration rule. In fact, he was already thinking about how he needs to help some of his underclassmen gather information about their potential NFL draft status.
Then someone asked about a three-peat and the possibility of winning an unprecedented fourth BCS championship in five years.
"I'm not ready to go there yet," Saban said.
No, not yet. But give him time. Give him a day.
|You cannot ignore this Alabama dynasty any more than you can ignore Big Al.|