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January 19, 2013

HURT: Fans should cherish this football dominance

The University of Alabama's championship celebration on Saturday benefitted from a dose of sunshine - and provided a breath of fresh air.

There is no need to recapitulate the week's biggest story in college football outside of Tuscaloosa, even if it does involve Alabama's most recent opponent. Regardless of whether I have strong opinions about it, and I do, Saturday was Alabama's day.

There were no saints on the podium, although there were some fine examples of what college athletes are supposed to be. Barrett Jones spoke briefly. In the spirit of the times, I should rush to confirm that Jones actually did go on a mission trip to Nicaragua that he says he went on. He did. There are pictures.

For the most part, though, it was a fun, less-is-more afternoon, confirming the old cliche about people loving a parade and a short program. The best moments were impromptu.

I am not sure Bill Hancock, director of the Bowl Championship Series, meant for a live microphone to pick up his comments when he handed yet another crystal football to Nick Saban, but his comment - "see you next year" - certainly caught the attention of many Crimson Tide fans.

Senior guard Chance Warmack expressed similar sentiments, saying that Alabama "will be better next year than this year," but optimism is expected more from players than visiting dignitaries.

Those comments were in keeping with the whole day, though. The celebration wasn't some huge Fourth of July Bicentennial fireworks extravaganza, the sort of spectacle staged for once-in-a-lifetime events. It was more like the annual summer visit to a comfortable beach house or mountain cabin, a pleasurable diversion enjoyed with the full expectation that there will be a return trip down the line.

Recurrence was part of the day's theme as well, although it was understated. The Crimson Tide's early entry signees, the start of this class, were part of the celebration. Recruits could not be officially recognized or spotlighted, but they were there and the savvier members of the vast crowd spotted them quickly.

Mal Moore has given so many speeches in this situation over the course of a 10-ring career that he could probably have given his oration in his sleep, but instead he singled out the most important factor of all: Nick Saban.

"He is, in my opinion, the best coach in the country," Moore said. "Thank God he is on our side."

Maybe it is providence, although it also has a lot to do with preparation, with a system that methodically puts the best team on the field, year in and year out. In one final digression, any revisionism concerning the BCS National Championship Game and the impact of "distraction" misses the overwhelming obvious point. The best team won.

Will it always be that way? Nothing in athletics is constant. Alabama has seen that, not so long ago. For those with long memories - or even good midrange memories - those days haven't disappeared in the rearview mirror.

So while Saturday's celebration was low-key, as such things go, it still had to be sweet for Alabama because times don't get better than they are right now - at least, as Bill Hancock hinted, until next year.

TideSports.com Recruiting: Weekend insider report

Reach Cecil Hurt at cecil@tidesports.com or 205-722-0225.



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