The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle once said “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Examining that quote a little closer, he may have been referring to Alabama Football.
The Alabama Crimson Tide have a storied tradition. It is 14 national championships, 22 Southeastern Conference championships and more than 100 first team All-Americans.From the “Walk of Champions” when the team arrives at the stadium to the booming voice of Bear Bryant that concludes the pregame ceremonies, reminders of the expectations are everywhere.
Like other programs, Alabama has had its ups and downs, but in Tuscaloosa, mediocrity is not accepted. Donors have dropped millions to make Bryant-Denny one of the premiere stadiums in the country while making sure the training facilities are unparalleled. When Mike Shula struggled to win consistently, Alabama ate a $4 million buyout and then spent another $4 million a season to hire Nick Saban away from the Miami Dolphins.
At that time, Alabama was criticized across the country, but six years and two national championships later, the Crimson Tide have no regrets.
On Tuesday, Alabama was selected by the Associated Press as the top team in the country, making it five consecutive seasons that the Tide have been recognized as the number one team at some point. For guys like Barrett Jones, Robert Lester, and Damion Square, they’ll never know what it is like to play for a team that wasn’t ranked number one in the country during the course of the season.
The number one ranking brings added media and increased attention. The number one team in the country is always under a magnifying glass, but where some schools might shy away from the spotlight, it is hard to imagine that the lights could shine any brighter than they do in Tuscaloosa.
Sure, the Crimson Tide will have a target on their back but when haven’t they had a target on their back? Regardless of the record, Alabama has always received the opposing team’s best shot. When challenging teams take on the Tide, they come into the game not only determined to take on the football team, but the legacy of the Alabama Crimson Tide. A win against Alabama could make their year.
While some would consider Alabama’s recent success an incredible accomplishment, in Tuscaloosa it is the expectation. Coach Bryant may have said it best when he said “If you are not here to win a national championship, you’re in the wrong place.”