Alabama Establishes a Clear Vision
“Everybody bought into it.”
--Mark Ingram, Alabama running back and Heisman Trophy candidate. Ingram, making a strong bid to claim the school's first Heisman Trophy, rushed for 113 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Florida in the SEC championship game. He passed Bobby Humphrey for the school rushing record in a season (1,542 yards) and augmented his performance with a 69-yard reception on a screen pass.
“Coach Saban’s got a philosophy of hard work and discipline,” Ingram said. “And you can’t have self-indulgent behavior. It’s about doing everything you can, every chance you have, to make the team better.”
"Everything we did all year long was to beat them, to be better than them," Ingram said about their goal of being better than Florida, who beat Alabama in the SEC title game last year.
“We had a meeting [last offseason and told the players] everything you do, every time you go to work, every time we lift weights, it’s not to be as good as the guy you’re playing against, it’s to be as good as the guy you have to beat to be the champion,”
--Nick Saban, head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide football team.
Drive and Desire
"Everyone had to buy into not to be denied in this game." Saban said. "To be a champion, that's what you had to do. I've never been prouder of a group of players."
"Our standard was to be as good as Florida," Alabama linebacker Cory Reamer said. "Today, we were better than them.”
"They seemed like they wanted it a whole lot," Florida cornerback Joe Haden said.
Preparation and Work
Greg McElroy, Alabama quarterback and MVP of the SEC championship game said the victory was a tribute to all the work that the Tide had put in since the loss to Florida in last year’s SEC title game.
"I think it all came full circle in the sense that all the things we’ve done,” he said. “All the 110s we’ve run and blood, sweat, conditioning, all the reps in the weight room, that’s what it’s all for, taking a knee against Florida to win the SEC championship.”
--Greg McElroy, who threw for 239 yards and a touchdown to claim the SEC Championship Game MVP award.
“You’ve got to be responsible and accountable and be able to do your job,” Saban said. “There’s a way you have to do it in terms of the effort, the toughness and the dependability and the discipline. … And when you have a critical mass of players on your team that think like that, they really don’t want the other guys that don’t think that way to be out there with them.”
"If you want to be a champion, you have to have a team of champions," McElroy said. "This team came out and proved itself a champion."
Alabama will now face Texas in the BCS Championship Game in January.
Excerpts from the New York Times, Yahoo.com and ESPN.com (December 5-6, 2009).
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