MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Alabama head coach Nick Saban had made it look easy since taking over the Tide, leading the team to three national championships in four years thanks to Monday night’s shellacking of Notre Dame. But for Saban, the time to celebrate is brief as he’s already looking to next season.
“I really hope that we all appreciate what we accomplished and understand what it took to accomplish it rather than just revel and marvel in what we really did,” Saban said.
Saban’s team has become accustomed to holding the crystal ball trophy at the end of the year as national champion. The dynasty Saban has built at Alabama is both a blessing and a curse for the driven head coach.
“People talk about how the most difficult thing is to win your first championship,” he said. “Really, the most difficult one to win is the next one, because there’s always a feeling of entitlement.”
Saban insisted he was happy and proud of his team this year and said he would enjoy the victory for about 24 hours or so. But starting Wednesday, his focus as soon as the gun sounded in Sun Life Stadium at the end of the game was the 2013 season.
“One of these days, when I’m sitting on the side of the hill watching the stream go by, I’ll probably figure it out even more,” Saban said. “But what about next year’s team? You’ve got to think about that, too.”
The Crimson Tide will have some very big shoes to fill, especially along the offensive line. All-American lineman Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack graduate and right tackle D.J. Fluker is widely expected to turn pro in the offseason. Safety Robert Lester will also be heading to the NFL next season.
Alabama might also lose running back Eddie Lacy to the pros along with a few other players.
That’s not been a problem for Saban since he took over at Bama. Last year, the team had five players drafted in the first 35 picks and the Tide machine didn’t slow down at all this year.
Next season, Alabama returns quarterback A.J. McCarron, running back T.J Yeldon, wide receiver Amari Cooper and possibly many other players on the two deep depth chart. In other words, get ready to see Alabama in the championship picture for a long time.
If that’s not enough, Alabama is once again ranked in the top five for recruiting classes, according to Rivals, and still has five open scholarships to hand out this season.
The Crimson Tide wrapped up its ninth Associated Press national title, breaking a tie with Notre Dame for the most by any school and gaining a measure of redemption for a bitter loss to the Irish almost four decades ago: the epic 1973 Sugar Bowl in which Ara Parseghian’s team edged Bear Bryant’s powerhouse 24-23.
labama is already there but still longing for more, not content even after the second-biggest rout of the BCS era that began in 1999. The only title game that was more of a blowout was USC’s 55-19 victory over Oklahoma in the 2005 Orange Bowl, a title that was later vacated because of NCAA violations.
You could almost hear television sets around the country flipping to other channels as Alabama poured it on, a hugely anticipated matchup between two of the nation’s most storied programs reduced to a laugher when the Tide scored on its first three possessions.
“We’re going for it next year again,” said offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandijo, only a sophomore and already the owner of two rings. “And again. And again. And again. I love to win. That’s why I came here.”
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