Alabama Crimson Tide offensive lineman Barrett Jones laid more hands on AJ McCarron than the entire Notre Dame defense combined, in what turned out to be the most famous highlight from Monday night’s dismantling of Notre Dame.
By now, you’ve seen “The Shove” at least a dozen times, and it illustrates just how much influence Nick Saban has over his players. The will to win is only surpassed by the will to be perfect.
During a point in the game when most players would have already begun celebrating, these two competitors were chasing perfection. Up four touchdowns with 7 minutes left in the 4th quarter, AJ McCarron began yelling at his center because of miscommunication over the snap count. Barrett Jones, one of the team captains – who also happens to be the most decorated offensive lineman in Alabama history – was having none of it.
It was a bizarre moment between two friends that was captured in front of a national audience. If you’ve ever lived with a roommate, you’re aware these dust-ups happen frequently. However, it usually happens because someone ate the last slice of pizza or because someone forgot to pay the monthly power bill. It rarely happens in the midst of everything going according to plan, as it was for the Alabama offense Monday night.
Asked about the confrontation after the game, Jones replied with typical certitude.
“We’re both perfectionists. He’s an emotional guy,” Jones said of McCarron. “We had a snap count difference. I was right, but whatever, it doesn’t matter. We love each other and gave each other big hugs. It’s just how we are if you don’t know us.”
The exchange between McCarron and Jones was a rare glimpse into the psyche of the team. Saban has built a reputation of not allowing anyone from the outside into the team’s inner circle. Freshman and assistant coaches are famously not allowed to talk to reporters or journalists, and there’s a reason for that. He refuses to give his opponents any ammunition. He’s talked about “The Process,” but he’s never really sat down and laid out a step-by-step formula for what that process entails.
While we may not know everything that goes into The Process, we can infer from “The Shove” that the drive for perfection is a high priority. And from the timing of the shove we might even make the assumption that it’s the highest priority.
With Alabama up 42-14 with 7 minutes left against a team who’d already thrown in the towel, the Process was still on full display. Based on what we’ve seen over the last few years, we can also assume that the Process never ends. It’s an ongoing method in which the end is really just the beginning again. This is a dynasty with no signs of slowing down.