Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Dynastic Quotables: What they’re saying on the morning after

Do you know how hard it is to get to a national title game? Saban and Bama not only get there, but they keep coming back. And they keep winning. It is beyond impressive, it's historic.

"I don't think words like 'dynasty' are really words I'm much interested in," Saban said. "We're interested in 'accomplishment' and 'consistency' and 'performance.'"

Sorry, but this is bigger than Saban and his football dictionary. Dynasties are a rarity, and we're living in the middle of one now. Saban can try to pretend it doesn't exist, but that's like trying to ignore the Big Al in the room.

* * *

"We knew one team would break," Alabama defensive end Damion Square said, "and it wasn't going to be us."

It required only five plays for Alabama to find the end zone. Lacy was the sledgehammer, and it was 7-0 after the longest touchdown drive and the first first-quarter touchdown allowed by Notre Dame all season.

The curb-stomping didn't end. McCarron threw a touchdown pass, then set up a T.J. Yeldon score with 25- and 28-yard passes, then dumped a short toss to Lacy that the junior hauled into the end zone. It was a 28-0 lead, arrived at brutally, with special indifference to destiny and fortune.

"They did not dominate us," Nix said. "We just didn't play our ballgame, man. We didn't make tackles. Everything we did or had lined up should have worked."

In whatever context or interpretation, Alabama was destroying everything Notre Dame built over a brilliant season, stomping validation into a million little pieces.

"It felt like we were sinking in quicksand," guard Chris Watt said. "We couldn't get out of it."

* * *

“I don’t know. I really don’t,” said defensive end Stephon Tuitt. “I’m kind of shocked by it that we’re still missing tackles. They did a really good job of being elusive, their backs did. I give them props for that.”

Losing Lewis-Moore didn’t help Notre Dame’s defense, but when the fifth-year senior went down with a serious right knee injury in the third quarter the Irish were already down four touchdowns. Louis Nix played most of the second half with an apparent sprained ankle.

But even at full strength the Irish defense was no match for the Crimson Tide’s mauling offensive line. Alabama won time of possession in the first quarter by more than nine minutes, mounting three touchdown drives against Notre Dame’s one first down.

“We could call the plays that they were going to run,” said linebacker Danny Spond. “We knew what they were going to be doing. We didn’t tackle obviously. That showed itself. They just proved to be the better team today.”

  * * *

But once again, the promise Nick Saban made on January 3, 2007 rang true. Alabama is the team you simply do not want to play. Saban’s version of Alabama is a wrecking ball that crushes your hopes and dreams, taking what was a pristine season of glory and smashing it to pieces before your very eyes.

Ask the LSU of 2011, capping a 13-0 season with a 21-0 shut-out at the hands of the Tide.

Ask Texas of 2009, doing the same in the Big 12, only to be slapped into submission.

Ask Georgia of 2012, whose paws were this close to reaching relevance again after 30+ years of irrelevance, only to be outdone in regulation.

And now ask Notre Dame of 2012, wandering for almost 25 years since their last taste of glory.

* * *

The Crimson Tide beat Notre Dame like they stole something. They beat Notre Dame like they were Florida Atlantic. They beat them like they were Florida Atlantic and they stole something.

They beat Notre Dame like they stole Bear Bryant’s houndstooth hat.

For those of a certain generation, this one couldn’t help but reverberate back through history. This was was magically delicious for older Alabama fans.

It won’t make up for 1966 when poll voters denied an unbeaten, untied Alabama team and instead awarded the national title to Notre Dame. Or 1977 when Alabama lost to Notre Dame at the polls ... again.

It won’t make up for that heartbreaking 1973 Sugar Bowl when Notre Dame ruined Alabama’s unbeaten season. Or Notre Dame wins over Bryant teams in 1974, 1976 and 1980.

But for the Bryant generation of Tide fans, any time somebody wants to say, “What about Notre Dame?” they finally can say, “Yeah, what about Notre Dame?”

* * *

Overmatched from the very start, Notre Dame's hopes of going from unranked to undisputed this season ended in a crimson-and-white display of precise football. The Irish were beaten by Alabama 42-14 in the title matchup on Monday night, the only loss in 13 games for a Notre Dame team that few thought would be a championship hopeful when the season began.

''I'm obviously disappointed, not necessarily all that we lost, but just we didn't represent our school, our team, our families the way that we could have,'' Te'o said. ''So in that aspect it's just disappointing. But at the same time I'm proud to be a part of this team. What doesn't kill you will only make you stronger.''

Cliche, sure.

But if anyone can live by those words, it's Te'o, particularly after what he endured over the course of his final college season.

* * *

“Everyone is freaking out about that,” Jones said. “We were trying to bleed the clock a little bit so we got up to the line of scrimmage and there wasn’t much time left on the clock, so we shifted. I had to read the play and recall it, and he got a little bit frustrated.

“He went to the nearest person, which happened to be me. It was no big deal. That’s just our relationship is. We’ve gotten in several group altercations like that in practice.”

Alabama coach Nick Saban said that’s how McCarron is, even to him.

“That’s the kind of relationship I have with him,” Saban said. “AJ is a leader. He’s a competitor. He’s a fiery guy. I think he has a tremendous amount of respect for the competitors who play around him. But I also think that he lets his personality come out, and I think people respect that.

“And I don’t think he does it in a negative way, and I think there’s probably nobody in the world that respects Barrett Jones and what he’s accomplished any more than what AJ does.”

* * *

Yet Alabama's rise inevitably diminishes the conference's continuing domination. Although Slive rightly pointed out that Alabama was 5 yards from a loss to Georgia in the SEC championship game, the Tide didn't lose to the Bulldogs. And with the win Monday night over the Irish, the question the rest of college football asks about the SEC must now be asked within the league, as well:

When will it ever end?

"It can continue for however long we want it," said junior cornerback Dee Milliner, and what's scary is he might be right. As long as the Crimson Tide keeps pushing, it will keep winning.

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