Saban Hitting the Reset Button at ‘Bama

In the aftermath of the Nick Saban-to-Texas non-event, I saw this article on ESPN.com:

This just in: He’d like to win a few more … at Alabama. But he also knows that this next stretch will present some daunting challenges.

“I’m looking at it like we’ve got to start all over again, that this is 2007 again,” Saban told ESPN.com Saturday after agreeing to a long-term extension with Alabama.

“We’ve had a lot of success here, but we’re going to have a new quarterback next year and lots of challenges. Some of the issues on our team this year had to do with complacency and winning too much. We have to get back to having the kind of character, attitude and competitive spirit that we need to have.

“So there are plenty of challenges here. I’m going to spend my time trying to fix those.”

So what’s the deal here?  If I had to pick a place to go back to in the Saban era in Tuscaloosa, it wouldn’t exactly be 2007.

Does he mean there are a few players with character and work ethic issues that are undermining the program?

Is he setting us up for a multiple loss season because of losses at key positions at quarterback?

Or is he simply saying it’s time to put all of the trophies on the shelves and get back to “the process?”

My guess would be there’s some of all three to be handled.

The last four years have been a special time in Alabama football history.  Three national championships in four years.  A nineteen game winning streak.  Two conference championships.  A Heisman trophy winner and multiple finalists for the award.  Banner recruiting years.  We’ve definitely been blessed.

But at the same time, so much success builds pressure and expectations that can be unbearable.  You get every opponents best shot every week.  You’re in the media glare all the time.  The game becomes more about not losing than about the joys of winning.  To some degree, that’s why players want to play for Alabama.  But the pressure can takes it’s toll.

I won’t be surprised if 2014 is a down year for the Tide.  A new quarterback.  The loss of a leader like C.J. Mosley.  Playing in a super-tough division (likely with the defending national champions) and conference.  There are definitely a lot of challenges ahead.

But it just may be that 2014 is like 2007 and sets the stage for another golden era of ‘Bama football.

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