Dixie’s football pride

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 13, 2010

(From the Tuscaloosa News)

The University of Alabama’s resounding 37-21 victory over the Texas Longhorns Thursday in college football’s national championship game was played in the Rose Bowl, where the Tide first made a name for itself and put Southern football on the map in its 1926 Rose Bowl victory over Washington. It was the game that also inspired that official fight song, written by Ethelred Lundy, a music student at the Capstone at the time.

Today, the Crimson Tide is once again Dixie’s football pride after claiming its lucky 13th championship with a team that has to rank among the best the university has ever fielded.

It boasted a record six Associated Press All-Americans, including Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram on offense and Rolando McLain, who won the Butkus Award as the best linebacker in the country, and a defense that ranked second in the nation in total defense, rushing defense and scoring defense and 10th in passing defense.

And when things got dicey against Texas, it was the defense that came to the fore, holding Texas to two field goals in the first quarter, when the Longhorns took their only lead of the game. By the end of the game, the Tide defenders had intercepted four passes, one of which was returned for a touchdown and forced a fumble late in the game that led to the coup de gras.

The offense had its moments, too, with both Ingram and Trent Richardson gashing the Texas defense for more than 100 yards rushing each behind an offensive line that had the Longhorns whipped by the middle of the second quarter. In other words, we messed with Texas but good.

But it is coach Nick Saban who deserves special credit for taking a moribund program and in only three years building the best team in the land. He also became the first coach in the modern era to win national titles at two different universities, having led LSU to the championship in 2003.

The Tide’s return to glory — its last national title came 17 years ago against Miami in the Sugar Bowl — comes after a few years in the wilderness courtesy of NCAA sanctions interspersed with a few relatively successful seasons here and there.

But beginning last year, when Alabama was one quarter away from playing for the national championship before losing to Florida in the SEC Championship game, the Tide faithful began to believe Bama was finally back were it belongs.

And from the looks of things, the Crimson Tide could indeed be Dixie’s football pride for years to come.

Now if we can just get Saban to at least crack a smile when he gets the traditional Gatorade bath at the end of big games, even if it does turn his shirt a bright pink …