BCS trophy on display in Paul W. Bryant Museum

BCS trophy on display in Paul W. Bryant Museum

The 2011 BCS Coaches’ Trophy is now on display at the Paul W. Bryant Museum. /CW | Mitchell Hughes

Adrienne Burch

When visitors enter the Paul W. Bryant Museum showroom and turn the corner to the right, they find themselves standing in front of a bright, gleaming crystal ball that embodies all that is Alabama football: championship, tradition, and more specifically for this past season, redemption.

The 2011 BCS National Championship trophy arrived at the museum around 2 p.m. last Wednesday and went on display to the public at 9 a.m., the following morning.

“We spent most of Wednesday checking to see where it was,” said Ken Gaddy, director of the Paul W. Bryant Museum, whose staff tracked the package on the UPS tracking site just as many people do for packages.

This, however, was no ordinary package.

The Crimson Tide won its 14th National Championship and third BCS championship Jan. 9, shutting out the LSU Tigers 21-0 on in New Orleans, La. Even though the Bryant museum is packed with Alabama football trophies, this one means something special.

Museum curator Taylor Watson said he has been at the museum since 1992. He has seen all three championship trophies arrive and has helped with putting them on display. He said the main thing he worries about when handling the trophy is not dropping it.

“It’s a crystal football. It will shatter. It will break,” Watson said.  “It’s an amazing trophy, and we get to display it for folks. It’s kind of cool.”

The day prior to the arrival of the trophy, Watson changed out the photograph behind where the trophy would be displayed. It now shows Coach Nick Saban hoisting the 2011 trophy in the air following January’s victory. Watson said they also had to move the 2009 trophy to its new case across the room, along with the SEC trophy from that year and a pair of Mark Ingram’s iconic “A” gloves worn during the game.

“We have so many trophies. We have to make room for them,” Watson said. “But having too many trophies is a good problem to have.”

Gaddy said that as Alabama fans, we have to remember that not everyone has the number of trophies, bowl game championships, national championships, MVPs and All Americans as Alabama.

“We have to remember that they are all special,” Gaddy said. “Winning the trophy in the sixties is just as special to us as in 2011. This doesn’t happen everywhere.”

The trophy on display at the museum is one of three models of the 2011 trophy. One is on display in the Mal Moore Athletic facility for recruiting purposes, and the other is the traveling trophy that has moved around the state and was on display in various Academy Sports.

The BCS trophy in the museum is also accompanied by the 2011 McArthur Bowl trophy, awarded each year to the national champion. This trophy is a traveling trophy that moves with each year’s BCS winner every ten months.

Watson said that the crystal on the 2011 trophy is different than the other BCS trophies. This one has grooves to make it fit in the stand better. The 1992 trophy was also more of solid crystal, while the 2009 and 2011 trophies are more lightweight and hollow.

“The base [of the trophy] hasn’t changed much, and the honor of winning it hasn’t changed at all,” Watson said.