The 2009 football season was a magical one for the University of Alabama. Who would have thought going into last season that Alabama would have this kind of year.
Alabama was expected to win the Western Division and contend for an SEC title, but most thought this was the year of the Florida Gators.
After all, the Gators had most of their starters returning and arguably the greatest college football player of all time in Tim Tebow. Most people thought Florida would be a shoe in for the national championship game.
But while the whole world was praising Gator Nation, Nick Saban and his Alabama squad was quietly building a national championship team. The ingredients included: a junior quarterback who was a first year starter.
A little known sophomore running back whom Saban had stolen from the state of Michigan. His back up whom some experts say is even better then the starter, and a defense that had a quiet confidence about itself that took on the personality of their head coach.
While most experts predicted Alabama would have a good season, most thought there was no way Alabama would go undefeated again no less contend for a national championship.
Look they said, they were replacing a senior at quarterback, a junior running back who ran for over 1300 yards, their best defensive player, not to mention an All-American on the offensive line; Alabama might contend for a national championship in 2010, but not this year they reasoned.
But Saban knew what he had coming back was better then what he had in 2008. He knew his sophomore and freshman running backs were better then the guy they were replacing. He knew in junior quarterback Greg McElroy that they had a kid that never lost a game as senior in high school and had a better arm then the senior he was replacing.
He knew he had a junior on the defense who had the presence and state of man like him that would take the leadership role left by a graduating senior. Saban knew he had a chance to win his second national championship, but I doubt if he knew they would be THIS good.
The 2009 season had a few bumps along the way like almost losing to Lane Kiffin’s Tennessee team, but when Terrence Cody blocked a kick for the second time in that game, you just felt destiny was calling this team; and they knew too.
The nation was starting to take notice then too that this Alabama team was not going to be denied. They had fought long and hard to get themselves into this position and nothing including the Florida Gators would stop them. Saban challenged his players after the 2008 SEC Championship Game to get better and they did.
After taking care of business in the SEC Championship Game,that little known sophomore running back, Mark Ingram, would be the school’s first Heisman Trophy winner and be a first team All-American.
Rolando McCain, considered one of the best defensive players in the country, would win the Butkus Award and garner All-American status himself along with four more of his teammates bringing the grand total of All-Americans to six, another first for this football team.
But most importantly to all of them, wasn’t a Heisman Trophy or a record six All-Americans, it was bringing the school its first national championship in almost 20 years and maybe cementing for them being called the greatest team in Alabama football history.