Larry Burton (Syndicated Writer)
Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant earned six national titles over a nineteen year period at Alabama. Those years made Alabama the national dynasty of that era and made coach Bryant the undeniable master coach of his time and one of if not the best coach of all time.
One record that may never be matched was his 13 SEC titles in his 25 years of coaching at Alabama. To even imagine any coach today winning over half of his conference titles in a career that long at one school is simply foolish.
Or is it?
Alabama has been in contention for three of the last four national titles at the end of the regular season and Saban has won two national titles in his five years at Alabama and three championships in his last seven years of college coaching.
That alone is scary enough for any team having to face the Crimson Tide, but for teams that have to compete with them every year in the SEC, it’s just downright nightmare material.
But will the Tide return next year ready to compete again or falter as they did after their 2009 season championship?
After a disappointing 10-3 season, now sandwiched between two national championship victories, A.J. McCarron told me after the Capital One Bowl Game in Orlando where they destroyed Michigan State, a Big Ten co-champion 49-7, that they (the team) was disappointed the way this season went and that they proved they had the talent to have won a championship that season.
He said that season and those losses would teach them all a great lesson and make them a better team for the future and make them all work harder and focus more like they did the year before.
McCarron said, “We’re going back to work. We’re going to go back to work like we did last year when we won it all. We’re going to do all the little things right and not just expect to show up and win. A win like this today helps the way want to send our seniors out with a big win, but it also shows what we were capable of doing all year and didn’t.”
Even Saban said in his post game press conference that he felt the 2010 team had more talent than the 2011 team that won it all. But he also said that this team had more leadership and was simply more driven than that team.
This year’s championship team was won that lost a Heisman Trophy winner, a championship winning quarterback and many other first round draft choices like their star receiver Julio Jones, their star defensive lineman Marcell Dareus, a first round draft choice left offensive tackle James Carpenter and their starting tight end Preston Dial.
People thought that this was just too big a loss for a team to take and still hope to win it all.
They were wrong.
But they’re already saying that about next year’s team too, despite the fact that this team is more ripe with talent than any team in the country.
In Nick Saban’s last four years of recruiting, including this year, three of those four classes will go down as the number one recruiting class of those year. The other one was a number five class.
No other team has come close to this kind of success over the last four years.
Though it’s an overused statement, the “We don’t rebuild, we reload” mantra would certainly seem to apply to Alabama for the next few years and into the foreseeable future.
If there’s any team out there than seems ready to challenge Alabama for team of the decade at this point, they are so far in second place that they’re still over the horizon.
This truly could be another Alabama dynasty and as simply unthinkable as it is to most Alabama fans, Nick Saban may just eclipse coach Paul “Bear” Bryant in terms of “Best of All Time” records and championships. But only time will tell.