Saban is the most important constant, of course. He’s known for his ability to recruit players, but don’t overlook his track record of replacing quality assistants with quality assistants. He’s been able to find guys willing to put their egos aside to do the work behind the scenes, which isn’t easy in a world where coordinators have become rock stars and web sites hand out awards for national recruiter of the year. Be honest. How many of you had ever heard of Chris Rumph or Jeff Stoutland before they were hired after the 2010 season when Bo Davis left for Texas and Joe Pendry retired? Have the Alabama defensive and offensive lines been any good the last two years?
The pain of Saban's betrayal, at least in the eyes of Dolphins fans, could, and probably will, resurface as the National Championship game gets closer. Of course, the organizers of the Orange Bowl, who is the host committee for this year's game, hope that's not the case. "You know what, I'd like to believe five years, four years later, that the community has mellowed and the college football world is going to applaud Nick Saban," former Orange Bowl president and current committee member Danny Ponce told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Michael Casagrande in the middle of Alabama's SEC championship celebration earlier this month. "If there's some Dolphin people down there that are upset with him, I can't change that. We at the Orange Bowl are proud to have coach Saban coming back to Miami." As January 7 approaches, and Saban is on TV and radio more and more, I wouldn't bet on a mellow community. No former coach, player, or executive is as hated by Dolphins fans as Saban is. Will the frustration of the 2005, 2006, and the Cam Cameron 2007 season be felt as Saban takes the field in Sun Life Stadium? My money would be on yes.
Who cares what a bunch of haters think, I sure don't!
After more than two weeks of waiting, the focus can finally return to the football field in Tuscaloosa. Not that it ever really left. But thanks to the Crimson Tide's return from a 16-day layoff, the talk can become less about speculation and more about specifics. Players and coaches will hit the practice field on Tuesday afternoon for the beginning of preparations for the Discover BCS Championship Game. While the focus will remain on the starters, their health and the game plan, bowl practice is also a time for young players to take a step forward and gain notice. Alabama has had no shortage of underclassmen contribute this season and that trend should continue for the final game of the year.
The University of Alabama’s football preparations for the BCS National Championship Game against Notre Dame begin today as the Crimson Tide returns to the practice field for the first time in more than two weeks. After a 32-28 win over Georgia in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game, UA coach Nick Saban gave players until today to rest and recuperate after playing 13 games over 14 weeks, including six away from home. Offensive lineman Barrett Jones, who sustained a foot injury against Georgia, is expected to be recovered when practice resumes. The Crimson Tide’s center had the only injury of significance in the victory over the Bulldogs. Saban has said the Crimson Tide will engage in "camp style" practices initially, focusing on fundamentals and self-evaluation, before introducing players to preparations specific to Notre Dame at some point after the Christmas holiday. Alabama will practice for five consecutive days before taking three days off, Dec. 23-25, for the holiday, then resume daily practice Dec. 26.
Alabama returns to work certain it has its starting quarterback for another season. Tide quarterback AJ McCarron announced last week he will come back for the 2013 season, his senior year. However, for some other Alabama juniors, this could be their last game in crimson. Discussions has surrounded offensive tackle D.J. Fluker, cornerback Dee Milliner and running back Eddie Lacy — three juniors who could bypass their senior seasons for the NFL. But for now, Saban will approach the game in Miami as he has each time he has taken a team to the BCS National Championship. "We’re looking at it like a one-game season. ... We’ll have camp-like practices, then give them a few days off for Christmas," Saban said. "Then we’ll begin practicing for the game."
As widely expected, Yulee (Fla.) High School RB Derrick Henry will be getting a glass of milk and a milk moustache. Henry was named Florida Dairy Farmers 'Mr. Football' Monday. Henry, who earlier had been voted the state's Class 4A Player of the Year, led the Hornets to a 9-4 season and their first state semifinal appearance in the seven-year history of the program. Henry, an early graduate who has verbally committed to Alabama and will be enrolling at the school for the winter semester, capped his record-setting prep career with a whirlwind senior performance in which he ran for 4,261 yards and 55 touchdowns on 462 carries - all single-season state marks. He finished his four-year career with 12,212 rushing yards to break the 59-year-old national career rushing record of 11,232 yards set by Ken Hall of Sugar Land, Texas (1950-53).
This year's Alabama squad becomes the fourth SEC team to have at least four consensus All-Americans in the same season. It's also the second year in a row that Alabama has had four, with Barrett Jones, Hightower, S Mark Barron and RB Trent Richardson earning that recognition in 2011. The Crimson Tide set the conference record with five consensus All-Americans in 2009 -- Cody, McClain, CB Javier Arenas, RB Mark Ingram and G Mike Johnson. Florida had four in 2001 -- DL Alex Brown, WR Jabar Gaffney, QB Rex Grossman and OL Mike Pearson. In its first season in the SEC, Texas A&M joined the list of conference teams with three consensus All-Americans in one year. Texas A&M DE Damontre Moore, who made the first team for three of the major selectors, joins Aggies teammates Joeckel and Manziel. Other SEC teams with three consensus All-Americans are 1934 Alabama, 1996 Florida, 2007 Arkansas, 2008 Alabama, 2009 Florida and 2010 Auburn.