Will Nick Saban Lead Alabama To the Promised Land at Long Last?

Larry BurtonSenior Writer IDecember 1, 2009

About a year ago I wrote a saga for CBS Sports called Alabama's Return From the Desert Wilderness and Land of Mediocrity. You can see it by clicking here . I also posted a copy of it here on a site that became a home away from home for me.

CBS wanted a fan's take on what it felt like to be back in the hunt for a national title after so many years of so-so football and I took a very comical approach to the subject, including that artwork, because it was still a painful subject to talk about.

My years at Alabama were filled with nothing but SEC Championships and back-to-back national titles against Penn State and Arkansas. That was Alabama football. Since 1992 what I have been living though is hope and denial.

What a difference a year makes. Now instead of basking in the exuberance of being back in the national hunt, it was once again an expected feeling. Alabama fans started this year expecting to be a contender, not wishing for it, and it was a very wonderful and familiar feeling to me.

Nick Saban not only brought the football team back to national prominence, but he restored the confidence to the fan base that they could expect to stay that way for years to come.

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The combination of Mal Moore and Nick Saban have not just put a great team on the field, but a world class stadium to play in, and top flight facilities to work out, play and live in.

Despite tough economic times, fund raising went well, ticket sales are at an all-time high, and the eyes of the nation are now back upon the coach and team in Tuscaloosa. It feels like old times again to us old timers.

How all of this happened over such a short period that it's just downright shocking. Were we always just a coach away?

Having lived through the the years since Coach Bryant, I had become jaded that the next coach would be next great one. Stallings certainly filled the bill, but he was gone too soon.

Nick Saban had us less that one quarter of football away from a national championship contest last year and yet the naysayers said it was a flash in the pan, a fluke, yet here they are again, one game from a BCS Championship showdown, yet again.

And all of this took just one year of getting rid of the dead wood, moulding a team to the standards he knew would work, getting them to buy in to a term that seemed so mysterious two years ago known as "The Process" and whatever other magic Saban brought along with him.

Though we still have yet to have Saban part the sea and return us to the promised land, we are close close enough to smell the milk and honey and we all realize it's just a question of time.


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