Alabama Football: A Season Of Redemption


I’ve tried to recap the Iron Bowl for days, and to talk about this Alabama football season. Yet no words that I’ve read have quite explained the feeling I went through on Saturday night. I finally found the right word to describe it.


For a year Alabama had to put up with being the victim of perhaps the greatest play in college football history, the infamous, ‘Kick 6.’ That was washed away when Alabama came back after halftime to dismantle an Auburn squad that was playing the role of spoiler.

Lane Kiffin, probably the most hated man in college football this time last year, dialed up big play after big play in the second half to bring Alabama back in the highest scoring Iron Bowl in history. Kiffin’s offense broke records and added a dimension to the offense rarely seen in Crimson Tide history.

Blake Sims, who waited four years and had to beat out a big name transfer to finally get his shot , once again showed up in crunch time and delivered. In one season, Sims has changed the identity of the Crimson Tide. The image of the Tide this season is not that of a school based off tradition and old-school techniques. It is a team with such an attitude change that even the music at Bryant-Denny needed a change.

In one season, Sims has changed the identity of the Crimson Tide.

Then there is Nick Saban. After last year, Gus Malzahn was considered a ‘Saban killer.’ Yet Saban beat Malzahn at his own game. With a high-scoring offense, the defense did just enough for Sims and company to win the most exciting shootout of the past few years.

Since the summer, I’ve been up and down on the Tide. I predicted an 11-1 finish in August, yet after West Virginia I was thinking possibly worse. I questioned the quarterback play but was proven wrong. I didn’t like the play from our defensive backfield, and was proven right in some aspects.

What I wasn’t wrong on was the heart of the team.

There’s been something special about this team since fall camp. When Sims won the job, it wasn’t just about performance, it was about chemistry and leadership. For the first time in a while I felt the team would put everything they had into making sure they didn’t lose the game for the quarterback.

It was apparent Sims was a team favorite and it spread on the field. After bad plays early in the season, players would come over and hug Sims and tap him on the helmet. It was a small yet revealing gesture.

After last season there were obviously issues going on behind the scenes. Players and coaches don’t talk about getting rid of bad vibes for nothing. But this year there is a certain confidence that can all be directed back to the leader in the huddle. After seeing the look in Sims’ eyes as he returned to the field after his third interception against Auburn, don’t expect anything less than a championship.

When Lane Kiffin came to Alabama, fans were skeptical. Even now, after record-breaking performances some continue to complain about the play calling.

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The simple truth is, Kiffin knows what he’s doing. Amari Cooper is breaking SEC records and TJ Yeldon is prime to break a few school records of his own, even while sharing the load and battling injuries. Kiffin has created an offense that almost no defense can shut down, and with a better understanding and more confidence from the players on a weekly basis, don’t expect this offense to slow down anytime soon.

The pressure of being an Alabama coach is probably heavier than any other in all of football. Hand the ball off? Why not throw it to Cooper? Throw the ball? Why not hand it off to Yeldon? There is simply no winning situation when calling plays for Alabama, yet Kiffin is nearly perfect.

The win over Auburn wasn’t just big for the players returning from last year’s collapse, but also for Kiffin, who suffered a collapse in his coaching career. The joke of internet memes has quickly made a joke out of SEC defenses.

Finally, I simply have to say that this Iron Bowl was different. I’ve been a student for five years now and I’ve never seen such emotion as was displayed just a few days ago. The hate for Auburn, the passion for Alabama, the urgency to win, and of course the pride were all in evidence.

The student body, and even the rest of the stadium, has embraced the change in the atmosphere at Bryant-Denny. From the band becoming louder, to more upbeat music being played and even more urgency to be loud, the Alabama home crowd has become a force to be reckoned with.

On everyone’s minds was a simple mantra: just win.

Just win and have a shot at the national title. Just win and shut Auburn fans up for the next year. Just win and once again prove whose state it really is. The Iron Bowl was all about redemption, and it was served.