‘Bama players dismiss talk of 3-peat, expectations
Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron offers a primer for what it
takes to fit in with the top-ranked Crimson Tide football team.
For starters, don’t fixate on the shot at a historic three-peat,
BCS-or-bust expectations or the anointment by pollsters as the team
It’s all about Virginia Tech, taking it one game at a time,
staying focused and all the other cliches that get trotted out in
the football building each year about this time. In short, ignore
what coach Nick Saban puts under the ”external factors”
”I feel like if you don’t think that way, you’re kind of
irrelevant a little to the team,” McCarron said Monday.
”Everybody needs to have the same mindset. We can’t worry about
what everybody thinks, what everybody’s predicting. Just go out and
play the game and take one play at a time, one game at a time and
we’ll be all right.”
That starts Saturday in Atlanta with the Hokies, who are coming
off a 7-6 season.
But hard as the coaches and players try to ignore it, the Tide
is aiming to make history. Major college football has had repeat
national champs 10 times since the first AP poll in 1936. None,
however, has made it three in a row and none has gone wire-to-wire
at No. 1 since USC in 2004.
But Alabama has the expectations born of winning 49 games and
three national titles the last four seasons. The exception was a
2010 team that opened at No. 1 and lost a whopping – by the Tide’s
current standards – three times.
Right or wrong, that season became an oft-cited example of what
can happen if a team buys into the hype.
”It’s an example but we’ve been preaching that for years now,”
McCarron said. ”We can’t worry about it. That was a different team
then and it’s a different team now. Got different players and
different mindsets among the team as individuals. We’ve got to
focus on our goal this year, our purpose to be out there. You don’t
really win the game on Saturday. You win it every day before
Once again, Alabama has a chance to make a statement early. The
Tide has played a ranked team from a BCS conference other than the
SEC in the first or second game each of the past five seasons and
won all of them. The closest call was when fifth-ranked Alabama
beat No. 7 Virginia Tech 34-24 to start the 2009 title season,
including a 41-14 rout of No. 8 Michigan last year in Arlington,
The Hokies aren’t ranked but Saban calls them a ”good
This time the Tide has back-to-back potential statement games,
counting the Sept. 14 visit to No. 7 Texas A&M after an open
Saban has had few public gripes about his team’s attitude or
focus during preseason camp, a good sign with a coach who’s not
given to sugarcoating. Monday he praised the team’s work ethic and
the way the leadership is developing.
It helps that senior leaders McCarron and linebacker C.J. Mosley
also happen to be two of the better players.
The word ”complacency” has likely been heard far more around
the football building than ”three-peat.” How often?
”You don’t want to say too many times because that’s a pretty
complacent answer,” tight end Brian Vogler said. ”It’s definitely
an emphasis that we’re focusing on. We really want to focus
everything we have on getting our best potential out there.”
To Saban, that means concentrating on winning, not past
”There’s no external factors that matter at all to any player
on our team,” he said. ”It’s all about how they perform in this
game. It’s not what they did last year, it’s not about the
girlfriend, it’s not about anything but playing this game. None of
it means anything unless you make it mean something.”
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