Monday, January 11, 2010

Alabama’s Secret Weapon

Much has been said about Alabama’s national championship, but the pundits are strangely silent about Bama’s secret weapon without whom this team would never have reached its dream. That weapon is Lady Luck.

Consider the Tennessee game. The image of Terence Cody running off the field without his helmet before the play was even over will define him as a hero for the ages, much like Van Tiffin and his kick. But really, Alabama won the Tennessee game because a kicker was twice unable to elevate field goal attempts to their normal trajectory. That is real luck. Otherwise, Cody would have been weeping on the bench and Kevin Scarbinsky would not be boasting that this team was the best ever.

Mack Brown claims that he had the superior team and that he lost simply because Marcell Demarius pinched Colt McCoy’s nerve. Mack should be a better sport than that, but it is true that Texas was unlucky and Alabama was lucky when that injury occurred. The game would have been different with a healthy McCoy, but we will never know how different it would be.

The biggest stroke of luck for Alabama is what did not happen, namely it never suffered a crippling injury throughout the year.. The only significant loss was Dante Hightower, but Alabama was lucky because he was one of many talented linebackers who ably filled the void created by his absence.

I can remember when Auburn lost all of its centers and had to move a guard to the center positiion to deliver the ball to the quarterback. Nothing like that happened to this team. Terry Grant, a fourth string running back, was injured this year, Wasn’t Alabama lucky that they did not lose Mark Ingram for the year instead?

But the scariest prospect was at quarterback. The top three quarterbacks in the nation, Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy, all suffered signifcant injuries. Isn’t Alabama lucky that the same fate did not happen to Greg McElroy? He may not be in the class of those three, but do you really believe that Alabama would have won the national championship with Starr Jackson at the helm? I don’t.

Texas cannot complain. They lost the shot at the national championship last year because of a play that took place with one second left of the clock in the Texas Tech game. This year they would not have been able to show up on January 6, if the clock had ticked one second longer on the next to last play in the Nebraska game. They were lucky this year and last year they were not.

It is not my point to belittle Alabama’s accomplishment. I believe the most championships are accompanied by a generous dose of good luck. If Alabama, is to win another championship, they need the players, the coaches, the discipline, training and dedication to do the job. But if they really expect to succeed they must pay attention to the mysterious and powerful thirteenth woman of the gridiron - Lady Luck.

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