What does it take to get to the pinnacle of the college football world and sustain that effort? It takes a complete effort. It takes phenomenal people working together to evaluate talent, do background checks, and take time away from their own families to visit the prospective athlete.
It takes believing in what you are selling to the prospective athlete and family, then closing the sale. It then takes patience to sit and wait for the athlete to first commit and then follow up on that commitment with a letter of intent on signing day.
Beyond the recruiting process comes the most difficult job of all. Delivering the product to the athlete that you sold before they committed and signed on to your program. Hundreds of staff people are necessary to get it done, but these people have to believe in the process, as well. They have to believe in their leaders.
It takes the strength of a visionary head coach with the support of a credible staff. Moreover, it takes the support of the Athletic Director and University President, as well as all of the staffers for the offices mentioned above, to make this happen.
These leaders are responsible for the development of young men with the right attitude and potential to become a special kind of athlete. The kind of athlete that comes to practice with the attitude of a teammate, not a star.
It takes an institution that is willing to provide an environment that allows the athlete to excel on the field of play and, more importantly, off the field. An institution that commits to developing a complete individual, one equipped to deal with social distractions and difficult course work in the classroom.
That institution must also help the athlete deal with some degree of dissatisfaction. Every athlete comes to the program of their choice with the intent of making it to the field on game day, no later than their sophomore year. Many times, that doesn't happen.
Hundreds of players have to deal with injuries, the majority of which occur at practice, before ever having played a down with a game jersey on your back. Dealing with the physical and mental letdown after the injury is critical.
Beyond the injury and repair, the institution must provide a facility that is of exceptional quality and allows for rehabilitation of the injury with a high degree of success.
The fan base is the benefactor. Most fans don't even know what it takes and, for the most part, could care less. They just want to see their team win. I think there are more knowledgeable folks in the Alabama fan base who know, compared to others because of what has happened in the past 20 years, but even at Alabama there are those still willing to put all of this at risk.
We talk a lot about the leaders and on the field playmakers such as Arenas, Cody, McClain, McElroy, Ingram, and Julio Jones. They are great players and they deserve the accolades.
But the players like Reamer, Anders, Deaderick, Washington, Robbie Green, Marquis Johnson, Jackson, Upshaw, Dareus, Nico Johnson, Tyrone King, and many others on the roster have responded to the coaches and, out of respect to the playmakers, have stepped up their game to enable the season to unfold as it has up to this point.
This Alabama defense has been burned more than once during the season, yet they have responded each time and recovered to take the victory from the foe. It is exciting to watch this special group of young men, no matter how this game plays out.
The offense has just as many contributors that deserve mentioning. Maze, Hanks, McCoy, Alexander, Richardson, Upchurch, Grant, Huber, Dial, Smelley, and Williams play on the edge and in the backfield.
The linemen have been phenomenal: Davis, Johnson, Vlachos, Barrett Jones, and James Carpenter. Love, Pharr, Boswell, and Motley. Ross and Warmack are contributors that often get overlooked.
Special teams contributors who also serve as backups from time to time such as Dre Kirkpatrick, B.J. Scott, Robert Lester, Ali Sharrief, Kerry Murphy, Luther Davis, Milton Talbert, Nick Gentry, Jerrell Harris, Chavis Williams, Tana Patrick, and Chris Jordan make this team more complete with their exceptional efforts on the gridiron, as well as on the practice field.
I could go on, all the way to the scout team and mention even more champions on this team because I have been to the Alabama abyss and have witnessed the climb out and into thin air.
The University of Alabama now has the right stuff. This is not a team of pretenders. Alabama is back and they are a force to reckon with in the SEC and on the national landscape.
They are now prepared to become a champion—the right kind of champion.
It was a glorious moment to see these young men finish this game as winners and have a shot at the national title.
Yea, Alabama, Drown 'em Tide, Every 'Bama man's behind you, hit your stride. Go teach the Bulldogs to behave, send those Yellow Jackets to a watery grave, and if a man starts to weaken, that's a shame, for 'Bama's pluck and grit have writ her name in crimson flame! Fight on, fight on, fight on-men, remember the Rose Bowl, we'll win then! So roll onto victory, hit your stride, you're Dixie's football pride Roll Tide, Roll Tide, Roll Tide.