Saban Says Bama ‘Pretty Damn Special'

Alabama Coach Nick Saban couldn't pull out his old national championship celebration notes. In 2010 Saban told a crowd in Bryant-Denny Stadium celebrating Bama's 2009 title, "This isn't the end. It's the beginning." The celebration was on again Saturday for the 2011 championship. We know it wasn't the beginning and Saban made clear it still is not the end.

In concluding his remarks and the celebration, Alabama Coach Nick Saban said "The returning players and the players being recruited would continue to be a team of champions who represent The University of Alabama in a first class way."

On a Saturday morning that started with torrential rain and a tornado watch -- an ominous feeling in Tuscaloosa -- the Crimson Tide celebration was held at Bryant-Denny Stadium in pleasant weather. An enthusiastic crowd estimated at 32,000 was treated to a pre-celebration replay of the BCS National championship Game in which Bama defeated LSU, 21-0, and entertainment by the Million Dollar Band. There were remarks from University President Dr. Robert E. Witt, Alabama Athletics Director Mal Moore, selected players, and the man of the hour, Saban.

Saban led the team onto the field with a fireworks display and the celebration ended with a confetti storm, including a re-enactment of the Gatorade drenching with a tub of confetti. Following the celebration, fans were allowed to tour the Alabama dressing room.

Alabama assistant coaches introduced themselves, and they included the latest additions to the Tide staff, Outside Linebackers Coach Lance Thompson and Offensive Coordinator Doug Nussmeier. Thompson, who left Alabama three years ago in somewhat strained circumstances, said it was "good to be back home in sweet home Alabama."

Saban reminded the crowd that when he arrived five years ago he promised that with the hard work and dedication of everyone on the team -- he included Dr. Witt, Moore, and the fans -- "and a coaching staff that works hard to recruit and develop players, that we could do special things. I think two national championships in three years is pretty damn special."

He said, "I have never coached a team so dedicated to overcome adversity after the loss to LSU. They were so well prepared and worked so hard. I have never seen a more dominant performance in a national championship game as in the win over LSU."

Saban thanked Crimson Tide fans for giving support "as well as any team has ever been supported," and told the crowd the players were appreciative of that support.

"This is a special group, and I absolutely love this team and what they were able to accomplish," Saban said. "I hope everyone appreciates everything they did to win the 14th national championship" in Crimson Tide history.

Saban said the spirit of the 2011 Alabama football team "reflected the spirit of the people of the state of Alabama overcoming adversituy after the tragedy of the tornados of last spring." He said just as the people of the state will continue to rebuild, the Tide football team "will continue to rebuild and continue to represent the people of the state with character."

Dr. Witt reminded the crowd of Saban's 2010 promise of "not the end, but the beginning," and said the performance in New Orleans in the BCS National Championship Game was proof of the Crimson Tide "winning with class every step of the way.

Moore, who has been a part of nine national championships at Alabama as a player, assistant coach, and athletics director, said Saban "is the best coach in America." He pointed out that Tide players under Saban are winners in the classroom and on the field, and told the players "You will always be a champion and you achieved it not as an individual, but as a team."

The celebration included recognition of players winning various awards, including All-America selections Trent Richardson, Mark Barron, Courtney Upshaw, Dont'a Hightower, Mark Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick, DeQuan Menzie, and Barrett Jones, and Richardson winning the Doak Walker Award and Jones the Outland Award.

Following the event, Richardson said, "It's a touching moment just to be around here and see all the fans. It's only the second time I have been back in town since the game, so it was really nice. Everyone came out to support us, just like they did all season."

Linebacker Nico Johnson said, "We're very fortunate. I seriously think we have the best fans in the country. No matter where we go, Alabama fans are always there to support the team. Being a defensive player playing in this stadium, it means a lot."

Jones adi, "Today was awesome, just to come back and share it with the fans. They are a huge part of what we've done. We wouldn't be the proram that we are if not for the great fans that we have. We have the best fans in the country and they showed that today the way they showed up and supported us."

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