The leadership of the Alabama football team helped the Crimson Tide win an SEC Title for 2015, but there is more to play for ahead.
Not long after the Tide’s early season loss to the Ole Miss Rebels, you could faintly hear the keyboards of national writers clicking as they started to write their “The Alabama dynasty is over” articles at almost a blistering pace. One by one they came over the next few days. Even some of the Tide fans had some doubts which are understandable immediately after a loss and until you can rationally think about it.
However, there was one group of people that huddled inside the friendly confines of Bryant-Denny Stadium that forgot about that loss not long after it happened: the staff and players of the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Any college football fan knows that you have to have a very good gameplan to compete in the SEC every week. Alabama head coach Nick Saban will be quit to tell you that you have a good off the field plan, as well. That includes eliminating the clutter surrounding a big game and to be in great mental shape as well. Coach Saban told ESPN a few weeks ago that he uses the time that it takes him to drive from home to the complex to talk to some folks that can give him some ideas on that aspect of the game.
After that Ole Miss loss, I’ll admit that I thought the possibility was there to drop maybe one or two more games but I also knew that this wasn’t the first time the Tide lost a regular-season game and had the chance the play for a title at the end of the year.
Dec 5, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban reacts during the first quarter of the 2015 SEC Championship Game against the Florida Gators at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
It really got kicked into overdrive after the loss when Coach Saban addressed the team with a simple question—”What do you want to do?”. The players response was exactly what was needed. “As I said out on the field, very proud of this team. After the Ole Miss game, these players all said they wanted to be a different team”, Saban said after Alabama’s 29-15 win in the SEC Championship. “They wanted to do something special. And probably more than any other time I’ve ever coached, I wanted to see those guys succeed today and win the second back-to-back SEC Championship and have an opportunity to get in the playoff.”
Later on in the press conference, someone asked why Saban wanted this group to win more than anyone that he had coached. Saban told the reporter just what I mentioned earlier and that was the fact that not many gave them enough of a chance to be in Atlanta and playing for a shot to go to the College Football Playoffs for the second season in a row.
“To see all the things that this team did and to stay together as a team and for everybody to be committed to doing what they needed to do to improve and whatever their role was on the team, there was a real togetherness with this group”, Saban said. “We haven’t had issues. We haven’t had lots of problems. I don’t have to call guys in at all. Everybody sort of bought in. Really a fun team to coach.”
You know what caused that turnaround? Leadership. It’s a locker room full of guys that have been together for a while and each one knows what the other one is capable of at any given time. It’s the staff and players clicking in perfect timing with a common goal in mind with the teachings from Coach Saban and the staff to get them where they want to be. The SEC Championship goal can be checked off for these guys. There’s one more on the horizon.
Will they win it? I don’t know. I do know this. You won’t find a group of better-prepared athletes, on and off the field, that I would put more trust in. The goal is in sight and Coach Saban and the other staff members have provided them with the tools needed to achieve it.