Alabama overcomes Saban’s first quarter mistakes to win national title

Those that tuned into the 2010 BCS National Championship Game don’t need a breakdown of what transpired on Thursday night: Alabama took advantage of a Colt McCoy shoulder injury and managed to survive a late rally by Texas to cash in a 37-21 victory.

Had McCoy played the entire game, would Texas have won? We’ll never know, although the Longhorns certainly had everything working in their favor early on, taking advantage of one Nick Saban mistake after another.

Saban’s decision to receive instead of putting his defense on the field first was unwise. His decision to fake a punt after the Tide went three and out on their first possession was unnecessary. And his decision not to instruct his return team to call for a fair catch or re-position themselves after Texas had already kicked the ball short at the start of the game was neglectful.

Due to those three decisions, Saban essentially spotted the Longhorns a 6-0 lead. Had McCoy not been hurt, who knows whether or not that 6-0 lead could have been 14-0 to start the game.

Saban obviously deserves enormous credit for turning Alabama’s program around and building a national championship team. What he’s been able to do in such a short period of time has been remarkable and speaks to how good he is at what he does. He’s a motivator, a master game planner and manages to keep young men focused, which cannot be easy to do.

That said, I don’t think it’s that much of a reach to say that he was lucky that McCoy left the game early. Granted, ‘Bama had the best defense in the nation coming into the game and even if McCoy had stayed in, a similar outcome could have transpired. But this wasn’t Saban’s finest three hours of coaching and something that will be overlooked in Alabama’s win is how he over thought himself early in the game. He was very fortunate that his mistakes didn’t cost ‘Bama in the end.

Nevertheless, the Alabama Crimson Tide are your 2010 BCS National Champions. Thanks to a suffocating defense and a ground game led by Mark Ingram (who proved again tonight that he’s one of the finest backs in the country), ‘Bama was the most dominant team from start to finish this season. They deserve a ton of credit for not assuming victory after they beat Florida in the national title game and for not mailing it in when McCoy went down and they were feasting on freshman quarterback Garrett Gilbert. (Although it’s fair to note that they did get ultra-conservative in the third quarter and it almost wound up costing them after Gilbert led Texas back into the game.)

Alabama wasn’t just crowned national champions on Thursday night – they earned it with a season-long effort. They were the best team in college football this season and even though they caught a massive break when McCoy was injured, nothing can take away from what they accomplished this year.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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