The Crimson White

Tide faces pressure for 4th national championship under Saban

Marquavius Burnett

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It will be the elephant in the room as the 2013 college football season inches closer.

Head coach Nick Saban, his staff and the players will down play it and stress this is a different team that has yet to accomplish anything. But it will be the only thing pundits and fans can talk about until someone dethrones the current kings of college football.

Less than 48 hours after the confetti fell in Sun Life stadium following Alabama’s repeat as national championships, everyone wondered if the Crimson Tide would make a return visit to college football’s biggest game.

Alabama once again will enter the season as the hunted, getting every team’s best shot. But with success comes the pressure of maintaining a standard and battling complacency.

Saban said Alabama battled some entitlement issues earlier this offseason, but things got back on track once spring practice began. The team gathered to meet about all of the offseason issues surrounding the program.

“You just have to be accountable for your job on and off the field,” quarterback AJ McCarron said of the meeting. “We’re getting an education at the same time, to do the right things not only because we represent this team and this university, but our last name, our families. We’re not here to make anybody look bad, so we have to be a man. You’re on your own, you have to held accountable.”

The key for the Tide over the last few seasons has been motivating players after a successful season.

“It’s a very difficult thing sometimes when you try to look at the results we’ve been able to get here,” Saban said during an interview with ESPN. “So we try to get players to focus on the process and the fact that we’re going to have to reinvent our team.”

The process begins with reinventing the offensive line and key parts of the defense, particularly the secondary. For the second consecutive year, Alabama is losing a potential first round draft pick in its secondary.

The good news for Alabama is that the schedule is favorable. Outside of the Tide’s first two matchups of the season, the perceived toughest game on the schedule is a home game against LSU.

Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma – who won three consecutive championships in 2002-2004, but missed out on a three peat in 2011 after winning back to back titles in 2009-2010 – said the Tide will face similar problems his teams saw during their runs.

“The hardest part is they have already won two and now the intense pressure on each player, especially the seniors, can be a little overwhelming,” Auriemma said in an emailed statement. “The coaching staff, if you’re not careful, will settle for nothing less than perfection; a perfect practice, a perfect set of plays etc. I think those coaches are too good to fall into that trap but that’s what happened with me. Because we were 39-0 for two years in a row, I wanted every pass, every cut, every screen to be perfect. After a while it just wears on you and your team.”

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Tide faces pressure for 4th national championship under Saban