Over the past 10 years, Alabama football has become the most polarizing fixture in college football. In the Heart of Dixie, thousands upon thousands flock to Bryant-Denny stadium every Saturday to show their support of the beloved Crimson Tide. Families name pets after Nick Saban. Household decorations are dedicated as shrines to Bear Bryant, Johnny Musso, and the rest of idolized players from the past.
Elsewhere, the country has become tired of the program. Tired of the winning. Tired of the monotony. Tired of Alabama being shoved in their face on every Saturday. They root for anyone to pull the upset. It is why, even in an era of SEC-fatigued America, Monday night’s Playoff game drew a 9% increase in television ratings. People wanted to watch someone else win. The majority of the college football world wanted Georgia to knock the dynasty from their throne.
As a 2005 graduate from the Capstone, I still get goosebumps during every win. It still matters. I have friends ask me if it ever gets old. The answer to that is a resounding “NO”. I was as student for the end of the Franchione era. I lived every vanilla game-plan that Mike Shula dreamed up. Hell, I even was on the sidelines for Mike Price’s only game – an A-day scrimmage before his discretions stamped his ticket out of Tuscaloosa.
Last night’s championship game embodied everything that I identify with as an alumnus. The resiliency to bounce back from a 13-0 deficit. The humility displayed by Jalen Hurts as he watched his backup become a College Football legend, and probably wrestle away the starting quarterback position for the next 3 years. The feeling that no matter what name was on the back of the jersey, somehow this team would pull it out for the University.
So you see, as the rest of the country grumbles about Alabama winning another title, I will rejoice. When DeVonta Smith crossed the goal line, I had the same feeling that I had in 2009 for the first title of this magical run – proud to call the Alabama Crimson Tide “my” team. Now to wait until September 1st. The Road to 18 starts in Orlando with the Louisville Cardinal.