A spark has ignited a simmering fire in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
The horrific tornado tragedies in the offseason, combined with the taste of defeat from South Carolina, LSU, and "the Other Guys" (gag, choke, puke) last season should provide the right formula of motivation for the new veteran leaders at Alabama to step up and exemplify SEC West dedication, determination, focus and execution.
The quarterback competition in the fall is the single most important variable going into the season—and not because it will determine the starter. What makes the A.J. McCarron versus Phillip Sims quarterback matchup in the fall so significant is the solidarity for the team.
Few would argue against the QB spot being the epitome of leadership for a team. The worst thing that could happen is for either one or both of the quarterbacks to be selfish and place their respective desire to start over the congruence of the team this fall. If the competition between the two is negative, the team could split and align with one quarterback or the other.
Everyone knows what happens to a house divided.
These two quarterbacks need to bond together and establish a relationship like Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson did, which is not to say they have to split time on the field but, more importantly, they need to lavish in the opportunity that at some point both will have the spotlight and they can together set an example for the team on how to compete constructively.
To tell the two quarterbacks anything going into the season, one could say, "Champions are selfless, let God distribute the opportunity and be ready to play." Then one could point to the 1980s-90s dynasty of the San Francisco 49ers and challenge the two to be more mature than even Joe Montana and Steve Young were.
The best-case scenario for both players, assuming they are in fact relatively equal in talent, would be for McCarron to start this 2011 season and the next. If McCarron is the talent he should be then he will move on to the next level after his junior season.
Then Sims will have a similar kind of momentum going into his junior and senior seasons (2013-2014) that Greg McElroy did. Sims can have a vast amount of experience and leadership that will only increase his draft stock in the future. This type of formula may not only be good for Sims but for the whole team.
Furthermore, instituting a principal of seniority assumes that the two quarterback are in fact relatively equal and it would establish an old standard that could be positive for the program as a whole. Some players, in the BCS era, need to experience some old-school traditions.
Unfortunately, the seniority idea places the majority of the maturity factor on Phillip Sims. Ultimately, if he is the talent and leader that he should be, Sims will be humble, patient and ready, preparing for perfection at his job and setting the example for future quarterbacks at the Capstone.
If McCarron and Sims can establish the roots of maturity this season, respect the Crimson Tide program and mature together then the fruit of their establishment has the opportunity to bear the greatest legacy that modern CFB has ever seen.
One can only hope for the best!