The University of Alabama football team has risen to the top of the college football world, but as they sit atop the proverbial mountain, the expectations could not be any higher.
Nick Saban arrived in January of 2007 after years of mediocrity, but after delivering 53 wins since 2008 including 2 in national championship games, Alabama fans are no longer satisfied in just beating opponents. No, they would much prefer to dominate them in every phase.
I learn things every day. Last night I learned a 19 point victory against a very good SEC opponent in the Ole Miss Rebels was no longer good enough. As I walked around the campus in early hours of Sunday morning, eavesdropping on conversations all around, from fans packing into their cars to those staying “hydrated” as they partied into the night on the front lawns of apartment complexes the theme was the same.
“I tell you what, they burned us too much on those outside runs tonight. We have got to get that shored up.” I overheard one anonymous fan say to a crowd of friends as they all took turns lighting up their cigarettes. Then one of the other young men in the circle took a drink from his red cup as he added “If we had to play Oregon or West Virginia tomorrow, I don’t even want to imagine what would happen.”
As the rain poured down, I hurried to my car, unable to listen in on other conversations, but I presumed they would be similar. When I looked at the message boards and on Facebook after I got home, the same sentiment was shared throughout.
When I was a college freshman in 2006 a 26-23 overtime victory against the Rebels was celebrated. Now a similar result against any team would be considered a disappointment. My how the times have changed.
While Alabama’s victory over the Rebels wasn’t their best game of the season, it was still a good win for the Tide. I felt heading into the game with the tempo of Hugh Freeze’s offense they would hit some plays which they did. However, when it came time for the Tide to make their own plays Alabama did just that, especially in the 2nd quarter with a 99 yard kick return and 3 interceptions on defense.
When Nick Saban started hanging championship flags in Tuscaloosa, he changed the culture, and he changed the expectations, which is not necessarily a bad thing.