Wednesday, February 10, 2010

2009...The greatest season in Alabama Football History

Hard to believe but its been a month since the Alabama Crimson Tide rolled to their 13th National Championship in sunny California. What an amazing season 2009 was, with in this writers opinion culminating in the greatest season in the 118 year history of 'Bama football. Notice I did not say greatest team, thats open for debate, although this years squad would easily be in that discussion too.

Their are numerous reasons why this was the greatest season ever, including the many firsts that the program established in 2009. Among the things Alabama accomplished for the first time was Mark Ingram bringing the Heisman to Tuscaloosa. Ingram made one of the greatest speeches in Heisman history, straight from the heart. It was a once in a lifetime event watching Ingram make his speech on the jumbotron of Coleman Colesium with close to 15,000 other fans.

From a team standpoint, the Tide became the first program to ever defeat 10 teams with a winning record in one season. They were the first to ever place 6 players on the All-American team. It was the first time 'Bama won 14 games in a season. Nick Saban became the first coach in the modern era to lead two teams to the national championship (LSU 2003 & 'Bama 2009). It was also the programs first win over Texas.

On the way to the National Title, Alabama defeated the previous four national champions (Texas-2005, Florida-2006 and 2008, and LSU-2007).

The 14 wins included games against traditional rivals Tennessee and Auburn, but the way Alabama won those games was unbelievable. In both games, their were tense moments where I'm sure the Vol and Tiger fans were about to feel the joys of victory only to have their hearts ripped out in the final seconds, like when Harrison Ford ripped the heart out of that guy in one those Indiana Jones movies. Trust me, Vol and Barn fans are still steaming about the one that got away.

I think the final reason that this season will be considered the greatest ever by an Alabama football team is because it came full circle and brought closure to the dark ages. Winning the BCS title in the Rose Bowl stadium became that final link for generations of fans from the early 'Bama titles that were won in the Rose Bowl, before the Big 10 and Pac 10 blocked other schools from going to Pasadena. It was more significant because of where the game took place.

Finally, the last decade began with such promise but was filled with such disappointment. The 2000 campaign began with 'Bama entering the decade at #3, opening the season in the Rose Bowl against UCLA. While I was their getting sun drenched and watching Freddie Milons go untouched for a punt return touchdown 3 minutes into the game, the rest of the game like the decade was downhill from there. What a long trip back from La La land that was, so much so that I did not venture to another road game until the 2008 season.

Through the disappontments of the decade (3-8 in 2000, 4-9 in 2003, 6-7 in 2006), the numerous coaching changes (Dubose, Fran, Price, Shula and Saban) the near misses (4th and 19, excruciating OT losses to Ark, LSU amd UGA, OU losses) and numerous embarrassing losses (UCF, La. Monroe, Hawaii and UNI) it looked for a time like we were destined to become a mediocre program like Ole Miss has been since the 1960's.

But that all began to change when Nick Saban came to T-Town on January 3rd, 2007. The Process began to take back the State and then the Nation. Unlike George Bush, we are not premature when we say Mission Accomplished!

No other team in the history of Alabama Football can match the accomplishments of the 2009 squad. In due time, people will grow to appreciate this team more and more in the coming years.

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