A.J. McCarron was one of the bigger question marks coming into this game.
At the end of the game, he was the MVP.
Most of us had the faith that he could learn from his November match and capitalize on the lessons to bring out the win.
McCarron is going to be the captain of this team next year, and he earned it in a big way in the title game.
Here are five ways he stepped up and made Alabama the 2011season's national champion.
A.J. McCarron was toned down a bit by Saban following the Florida, and ultimately, that led to the demise of the Tide in November.
After that loss to LSU in overtime, Saban changed his mind.
A.J.'s emotions could be seen in such television camera shots as when he was standing behind Trent Richardson, excitedly poking Rich in the chest. I have no idea what he said, as I was not there.
However, not long after that, Richardson broke off a 34-yard touchdown run that would be the only touchdown scored between either of these teams all season.
Any one of us who knows what they are great at would easily have told our boss that he was making a mistake if they told us what Saban told McCarron. (See link in "emotion and intensity" slide.)
McCarron may have had something to say about that back when it happened, but he ultimately listened to Saban and trusted him.
Saban's system also has a strong focus on loyalty. To be a great leader, you must learn how to follow.
That's true in every walk of life. Nobody can do it on their own, it takes team effort. McCarron, by showing us he's both a great leader and a great follower, has shown us that he's going to be a great role model.
After all, that's what we look for at Alabama—role models.
This man is the natural leader of the offense.
Once Saban gave the green light for emotion, he had popped a cork on A.J. that probably can't ever be put back. McCarron has seen himself with the cork in and with the cork out.
I, for one, prefer the uncorked McCarron, and the Tide seemed to congeal around their natural-born leader.
He's a great quarterback with a bright future. I hope to see a lot more of him in the near future.
I hope to see Philip Sims in the future as well, but it's clear who the Tide look to as the leader of the crimson and white.
McCarron led the Tide to a total of 384 yards of offense, with 234 of those coming through the air. We'll get to his gunslinging in a minute, though.
Defense wins championships, that's for sure. However, without offense, the game would end in a 0-0 tie every time.
McCarron led this team in a rout of the LSU Tigers that left every fan in the stands wondering what the heck happened to the Bayou Bengals.
I'll tell you what happened.
With each completion and each handoff, the Tide broke the Tigers' spirits. The field goals, one-by-one, got in Jordan Jefferson's head. Much like a frustrated child with a goal he just can't seem to accomplish, Jefferson looked helpless.
He wouldn't have lost that much control if McCarron hadn't spread the ball around so much that the vaunted LSU secondary couldn't find an answer for it.
This guy came out onto the field with one goal: to make sure everyone in the nation knew he was a quarterback.
One of the downsides (politically) of Nick Saban's system is that his quarterbacks, though highly effective and talented, are often referred to as game managers.
It's got to sting a little bit to be a signal-caller for the best team in the nation and come away from monstrous victories being called a game manager. McCarron settled that tonight. He threw the ball for 234 yards.
The rushing attack only accounted for 150, and that makes McCarron a quarterback. LSU came out onto the field with the express intention of making sure McCarron had to beat them with his arm.
McCarron responded with his arm, and he responded very well.
McCarron is the Tide's quarterback. If anyone calls him a game manager around me, I'll be sure to correct them with the stats from the first ever BCS NCG shutout.