So we have had a few days to process The Game. Bama’s fourth national title in seven years. That’s eight in my lifetime (although I readily admit to not being aware of the first three; I was 1, 6 and 7, respectively).
This game was one the cleanest I’ve seen – only six penalties, hardly any chippiness, and no Public Enemy No. 1 from either team. It was a heavyweight slugfest, start to finish. Clemson played as good of if not a better game. But Alabama had just a smidge more, and thus ended up with the trophy at the end.
The crowd, on TV at least, was a decidedly Clemson crowd. Those I know who were at the game confirmed that. They were going nuts with excitement. Bama fans, while certainly cheering, were not in a Mardi Gras mindset, even after the final whistle blew. One friend of mine noted that the Bama fans weren’t even smiling on the way out of the game.
It’s true. We probably weren’t. The feeling after the game was just … relief. And it’s hard to explain this, and most people will roll their eyes and hold very insincere pity parties for me when I say this – but it’s hard to be a Bama fan.
Yes, I know. Poor me.
But when you have had this level of sustained excellence, you really do become defined by championship or bust. The day after the championship game, I was taking my kids to school. There in car line was an SUV with Ole Miss flags flying high. And it made me mad. The trophy hadn’t even left Arizona, and all I could think of was how this season was flawed, and we have a two-game losing streak against the Rebels.
I am sure many of you feel as if you would gladly trade your team’s last seven years for mine. If you asked me if I would switch, say, Bama basketball for, well, most any program, my answer would probably be yes.
But beware of your cursed blessings. When you have become integrated into The Process, failure is losing in the playoffs. Failure is a 10-win season. Failure is certainly that Kick Six that just will never go away. Failure is anything short of a title. And it doesn’t even feel like a total success when you have that one blemish from way back in September.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Woe is me and the rest of Bama Nation. Poor us. But when next year starts, and you are full of hope and excitement for a new year of possibilities, the Crimson and White head back to work. There are no moral victories. We know we’ve got a long haul ahead of us, with only one acceptable destination. And a stop in Oxford, Miss. on Sept 17 is a key part of that journey. And should we leave that game 3-0, we probably won’t smile leaving the stadium. We’ll just leave relieved.