Arguing which running back tandem has been more important to the Alabama Crimson Tide’s championship aspirations would be pointless. The similarities in roles, performance excellence and contributions make sure that both pairs are likely to go down in the annals of Tide football tradition and they will be discussed with reverence for decades to come.
What ties them together more than anything else is that both tandems have had or will have chances to become part of a very important period in Alabama history. Mark Ingram was only a sophomore in 2009. Eddie Lacy is a junior. Trent Richardson was a true freshman in 2009, as TJ Yeldon is now. All four have been electrifying and both pairs of men stand on the verge of historic milestones.
The 2009 season marked the return of Alabama to college football’s elite. After 17 years of drought, Alabama again hoisted national championship hardware and told the college football world that yes, finally, Alabama was Back.
After winning its second title in three years with the win over LSU in New Orleans, Alabama stands on the precipice of something never before seen—back to back BCS championships. It’s never been done and with the end of the BCS system in 2014, the chance may never present itself again. Yet here are Lacy and Yeldon, ready to make that statement for 2012.
The January 7 matchup is historic for other reasons as well. It will mark an attempt to reach 15 national championships and reach the rarefied air that few programs can match or brag about. It will mark an attempt to rectify and ease some of the pain of past losses at the hands of the Fighting Irish—a long time nemesis for Alabama and a program that legendary coach Paul Bryant never beat.
Ingram was part of one national championship team and became the first Alabama player to earn college football’s greatest individual achievement—the Heisman Trophy. Richardson has two rings and also earned a trip to New York as a Heisman finalist. Together, they accounted for 6,344 rushing yards, 77 rushing touchdowns and 11 more TD’s through the air.
Lacy stands to at least match Richardson’s two titles and Yeldon’s future should send chills down the spine of even the most casual fan. The tandem became the first pair of Alabama players to have 1,000 yard seasons and there’s more to come.
These four men have been so important to Alabama’s success because of the smashmouth, downhill pro-set attack that’s been the Tide’s daily bread since Nick Saban arrived in 2007. Without these players’ performances in games both big and small, it’s difficult to see how Alabama could have enjoyed such success and created such warm memories for Alabama fans to enjoy for decades to come.
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