If it wasn’t official before, it is now. Fireworks lit the air, confetti rained down on the team as if they were in Miami, Fla., and Alabama head coach Nick Saban once again hoisted the crystal trophy as the team and fans celebrated Alabama’s 15th national championship.
The day’s activities started with a replay of the national championship victory over Notre Dame on the steps of Bryant-Denny Stadium, followed by a team parade that ended up at the Walk of Champions. First came the 2012 permanent team captains, seniors Barrett Jones, Chance Warmack and Damion Square, followed by the rest of the football team. Eli Gold, who was already at the podium, heralded each position as they made their way to the front of the stadium.
Saban, much as he did for the football team this year, anchored the parade. As he made his way from the Walk of Champions up the steps of Bryant-Denny Stadium, the crowd closed in around him and flooded out into the streets, desperate to get as close as possible to the man who had made Alabama a dynasty. Athletic director Mal Moore was also present at the celebration. Moore, addressing the crowd, talked about the difficulty of Alabama repeating as BCS Champions and its historic implications. Of course, he also talked about Saban’s importance to the Tide’s latest championship.
“I don’t know what else can be said about Coach Saban that hasn’t already been said or written,” Moore said. “He is the best coach, in my opinion, in the United States. Thank God he’s on our side.”
Saban was quick to divert any attention away from himself, however. Rather, in typical Saban fashion, he discussed how his team was able to come into the season with the right mindset to win the championship yet again.
He talked about his team’s resiliency and maturity to handle close games against LSU and Georgia, and to finish with a resounding game against Notre Dame. Saban also discussed the legacy left by the 2012 team: the fact they were back-to-back champions.
“They had a great win at LSU, come-from-behind, two-minute drive,” Saban said. “A great come-from-behind win to win the SEC Championship against Georgia, and then also to finish the way we finished in the national championship game against Notre Dame. I’ve never been prouder of any group than this group right here.”
The Crimson Tide and its fans certainly had a lot of accomplishments to celebrate. The seniors won a Southeastern Conference record 49 games, won two SEC championships, and a 4-0 record in the postseason. It was back-to-back national champions, with three overall, and is returning many key players for another run in 2013.
Jones, who also addressed the crowd, said what made this team different and special in its own way, even from previous national championship teams, was that it was able to reach its full potential.
“We always seemed our best in critical conditions,” Jones said. “And most importantly, we finished strong.”
Eventually, the crowd dispersed, heading off for an opportunity to be on the field on which their beloved Crimson Tide had made so much history. In the aftermath of the celebration, junior running back Eddie Lacy talked about how he felt after going through his last official event as part of the football team.
“This was a great experience,” Lacy said. “Being able to walk around the campus and see all our fans that are usually in the stands, but now are a lot closer. It’s just a great feeling.
“The fans, anytime they get a chance to come show their support, they’re going to come do it. No matter where, no matter when. It could have been raining today, snowing maybe. They’d still be out here.”