Thursday, Decemeber 10, 2009
Behind The Scoreboard
Over the years, fans have wished, hoped and prayed for a playoff scenario to ensure that only the cream of the crop in collegiate football would make it to the national game. While there has been no hint of this becoming an official sanction, a prime case could be made by the teams in the SEC the last several seasons.
In the historic words of General George Patton, “No one wants to find out that he has sent his best troops into a battle against a second stringer.” Flipping that statement just a twitter bit, one could not really say that the number two Crimson Tide entered the SEC title game on Saturday as a second stringer. If the designation were applied, it would have to be amended to say “second to none.”
This conference title game could have easily been the BCS title game, except for one tiny detail – both of these teams roam around in the same conference!
The Crimson Tide has been tracking the SEC crown for 10 long years. They thought they had locked it up last season, going into the last quarter with a 20-17 lead. “We wuz robbed” could very well have been the slang cry from Tide players after they eventually lost to the Gators after being dismantled by the Florida’s QB. Not just any QB, but a Heisman Trophy signal caller.
In its colorful history, Alabama has 22 conference titles to its credit and 13 national titles. Most of the conference championships were earned before the SEC went to the championship game almost two decades ago. Saturday’s game marked the seventh time that the Gators and Tide would be facing each other for all the marbles. And prior to Saturday, Florida had turned Alabama back four of those times. So, the Tide was not saying that they were shafted by the officials regulating the game; they blamed themselves for not finishing the Gators off in the final period.
Fans preparing to watch the game probably sat bolt upright when coach Nick Saban elected to receive at the beginning of the contest after winning the toss (Saban almost always defers reception). It would probably never escape a coach of Saban’s ilk that in high profile contests, the first strike is all-important. And that is precisely what happened. Alabama scored first.
But Saban, who was in this same game just a year ago, knew that you can’t close a Gator’s mouth with one pre-emptive. This time there would be no letdowns or breakdowns.
And now as the Tide prepares to ebb in the biggest venue of collegiate sports, they are hopeful that there will be cause for another celebration. For all the accolades-laiden history of Alabama, one distinction has forever eluded this program – no Tide player has ever collected the poised statuette with the stiff arm. That drought could very well end in the near future. Mark Ingram, the prolific running back with the stature of a Tony Dorsett and the determination of a John Riggins, could very easily roll into Pasadena with that elusive piece of hardware in his backpack.
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