The mission of the Alabama football team on January 9, is more than it seems to the fair weather fan. For all the hype that ESPN and sports magazines across the college football landscape have given to the revenge theme, this game is about much more for the Alabama football program.
In a recent interview with ESPN's Tom Rinaldi that aired on Sportscenter December 27, Barrett Jones said it best. He stated:
"This game is for more than revenge, it's about restoring order."
What Jones is referring to is what many Alabama fans have longed for since 1992. Restoring order not only to the Alabama football program, but restoring order to the SEC.
And for Alabama fans, that means having Alabama at the top of the pecking order, not just in the west division, but in the conference and on the national stage.
What others might view as arrogance has nothing to do with arrogance at all. It's about restoring order as in restoration of a dynasty. I wrote about it years ago, in an article entitled "The LSU Tigers Are Finished For Another 50 Years. Return of The Empire."
Admittedly, I was wrong about the LSU Tigers, they will be a force to contend with for at least another five years. But what was stated in the article had more to do with a restoration of order, much in the fashion that Jones is referring to in his comment to Tom Rinaldi.
At Alabama, football is about dynasties. Nick Saban is on the brink of establishing one of his own, a dynasty that may or may not be marked by multiple championships. But at Alabama, dynasties are most notable by the number of championships won by the respective head coaches.
Since 1992, the NCAA couldn't have stated it better, with regard to the description of the Alabama football program; "a lack of institutional control" pretty much hit the mark.
It's just that the description came with crippling penalties. Penalties that were deserved for the violations sited, but out of proportion to penalties issued to other programs for the same offenses.
The recent lack of crippling penalties in the programs at USC and Ohio State for flagrant offenses adds credence to the arguments that have been levied over the years. Those in power were interested in destabilizing the Alabama football program with those harsh penalties, while others are given a pass.
Alabama survived the sanctions and a loss of scholarships through the years that followed; and has returned to the elite of college football.
With or without a win on January 9, it is without question that Alabama is once again significant year in and year out. They will remain significant in the foreseeable future. During the Saban tenure, Alabama has a record of 54-12, with six of the 12 losses coming in Saban's inaugural 2007 campaign.
The 2008 and 2009 campaigns resulted in back-to-back undefeated regular seasons. In 2009, the postseason ended with a national title. The 2010 campaign resulted in 10 wins against three losses. In 2011, the regular season ended with a single loss to the No. 1 ranked team.
The 2011 senior class is 47-6 over four years, best in the SEC and best amongst any class in the power conferences. Each year, this class of athletes has contended for the national title and has seen their team at the top of the rankings for at least one week. They have remained in the Top 10 at season end each year.
Therefore, the period of time in which "institutional control of the football program was lacking" has officially ended. Restoring the order is now the focus of the team and the coaching staff.
The players and coaches understand that the victory has implications much larger than a national title. It's about restoration of an elite Alabama football dynasty.
Tune in on January 9. Feel the power of the crimson tide in full strength, against a team that is worthy of their No. 1 ranking.
But can the Tigers hold on to that ranking for one more game? No predictions here, but my wager is on Alabama. Full Tilt.