Friday, January 3, 2014

Crimson Commentary: Sugarless in Alabama...again

Jan. 1, 1993 is a rather important date in the history of Alabama football. On that night, the Crimson Tide defeated the Miami Hurricanes to capture the 12th national championship in program history. Living in a pre-BCS world, 'Bama not only claimed the national title that night, but also the Sugar Bowl.

Alabama hasn't won the Sugar Bowl since...

In this current Alabama age of "national title or bust," the Crimson Tide, for a plethora of reasons, have managed to get the "bust" part down to a science.

While many Tide fans, myself included, laughed at the notion that Alabama would take part in a repeat of the 2009 Sugar Bowl debacle, now that all is said and done, the 2014 Sugar Bowl was as "Utah-esque" as one could have ever feared.
From a personal standpoint, I've only "laughed" following an Alabama loss on two occasions. The aforementioned 2009 Sugar Bowl...and last night. While I was certainly not laughing at the effort, I did laugh at the final outcome. An outcome, perhaps in the dark pit of my subconscious, I knew would happen.

In respect to the 2014 Crimson Tide football season, UA's trip to Starkville, Mississippi was a turning point...a turning point for the worst. Something happened that night, and while most Tide fans viewed it as simply an "off night," history now records that whatever Alabama lost or left in Starkville, they were never able to regain in time to even win a bowl game.

The dream of a three-peat, concluded with embarrassment on the floor of the Superdome. Alabama's "consolation prize" known as the Sugar Bowl, was declined in favor of nothing.

We all remember the LSU game. Those final seconds where senior quarterback AJ McCarron, with arms wide open, embraced a jovial Nick Saban after the Crimson Tide had seemingly "passed the final test" of the 2014 regular season.

For whatever was taken or lost the following weekend at Mississippi State, the emotion, precision, and supreme confidence Alabama used to defeat LSU, was left on the Bryant-Denny turf that night.

Little did the nation know, McCarron's embrace of Nick Saban following Alabama's victory over LSU, would be the final moment of pure triumph this season. In what, at the time, appeared to be a monumental feat, and proof that Alabama would three-peat, was essentially the crowning moment of the season, a season that would soon dissolve.

As for the 2014 Sugar Bowl, credit the Oklahoma Sooners for defeating Alabama. No goofy missed field goal returned for a touchdown, just high stakes performance in a high stakes game.

Alabama settled for New Orleans, Oklahoma earned New Orleans. When the clock hit zero, the Sooners took what they wanted, while the Crimson Tide, and arguably the greatest senior class in the history of college football, left the field with memories of prior glory...and what could have been.
On the surface, the idea of "national title or bust" is a "fired up" way of thinking. It means you want the ultimate prize, and won't settle for a thing less than perfection. Well, what happens when you have to settle for less than your goals? Do you take the only prize remaining, or do you simply fall flat on your face because the disappointment of not achieving the ultimate prize is too much to overcome?

Alabama has three national titles under Nick Saban, Utah and Oklahoma also have Sugar Bowl victories over the Crimson the expense of Nick Saban. Sour taste, yes? It should be...

The "all or nothing" mantra is a wonderful rally cry, but when it actually comes to pass, and you've settled for absolutely nothing, the price of national embarrassment can really carve a deep wound. Today, Alabama is in need of critical medical treatment.

The bar at Alabama is high, but the price of not winning it all should never include not winning a thing. A successful Capital One Bowl covered in two embarrassing Sugar Bowl defeats does not a hearty meal make.

Jan. 1, 1993 is an important date in Alabama football history. However, the significance of that date is beginning to take a dark and haunting turn. The importance of what happened that night will always be monumental, but the gap between Sugar Bowl victories has now become of equal importance and concern.

Alabama is far too proud to settle for less than the best, but the Sugar Bowl was "built by Bama"...and embarrassment has never been in season.

Quite obviously, the Sugar Bowl trophy is not a crystal football, but the piece of hardware Oklahoma took home last night certainly beats a pair of empty hands. - the #1 destination for headwear

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