Unique Title Sweep Possible For Tide

Alabama football entered the year with a lofty ranking, nothing new for a program flush with national championships. At the end of the season, the Crimson Tide claimed a 14th title. Anthony Grant's third Alabama basketball team had preseason respect with a top 25 spot in the polls. Absent from the NCAA Tournament since 2006, they expect to be included in the field of 68 announced Sunday.



A scenario remains ripe to produce a season for the ages surpassing any in the annals of Alabama athletics if the hardwood campus partner mirrors their gridiron brethren. A unique unprecedented window of opportunity exists for Alabama's two revenue producing sports – football and men's basketball.

New Orleans is the first city to be dual hosting the BCS National Championship and the Final Four in the same academic calendar year. Furthermore, the contests and accompanying euphoria for the victorious university will occur in the same facility – the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Could the school identified universally by its script ‘A' capture a tandem title?

Tax has three alphabetic characters evoking the wrath of a four-letter word. Anyone with a drop of crimson blood would graciously pay the Crescent City hotel 13 per cent occupancy tax and $1-$3 per night fee twice to be present for the duplicate night of exuberance -- first in January, and then again in April. Two dreams causing the heart to flutter with crimson pride can be realized in those months designated to crown the Division I football and basketball champions.

Accomplishing the feat would require a galactic effort in the Bayou state's playground known as "The Big Easy." Danny Sheridan, acclaimed sports analyst and handicapper, sums up the probability to be 1 googleplex to 1. "Carl Sagan, the scientist, said googleplex is a number so large that it cannot be written in the known universe. It's like a joke," explained Sheridan of the gargantuan figure.

No two coaches in the United States are so vigilant in their efforts seeking championships as Nick Saban and Anthony Grant. Defensive schemes designed to confuse and pressure offenses is the staple of a Saban defense. Offensively the plan is to grind the interior of the defense and strike with big plays at opportune times. Grant counters with the mantra "94 feet both ways" a style predicated on being "aggressive and disruptive on the defensive end while attacking and efficient on offense".

Saban promised to compete for championships at his January 2007 introductory press conference. He has implemented a plan creating an organizational culture producing the ultimate goal of a national championship in the third and fifth years of his reign. Grant's aspiration is to equal his football counterpart. Bold lettering in the basketball media guide articulates the unequivocal position professed during his March 2009 introductory press conference.

"My vision of this program is to play for championships," declared the single-minded basketball coach. Self-imposed strict high standards are adhered to by both programs for every practice and game. Perfection is the prevalent theme.

One coach reached the pinnacle of the sport for the second time during his Tuscaloosa tenure and the other is in pursuit of the school's inaugural banner. Pride in performance, consistent effort and mental toughness are the cornerstone championship code phrases flowing frequently from their lips. Advocating many of the same principles and concepts, the 2011-12 seasons present a chance to share more than just philosophies.

No school has ever had the opportunity for the revenue producing sports to achieve the dual distinction in the same academic calendar year, city, and building. Only a handful of football programs are in contention annually to challenge for the top spot. Volatility reigns in basketball with Cinderella an occasional "Big Dance" invitee.

Grant will have a trial run as the 2012 SEC Tournament is scheduled for the smaller venue adjacent to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome – the New Orleans Arena. That begins today and Alabama faces South Carolina in the opening round.

Alabama had two ranked teams poised to pursue national honors at the beginning of the season. One completed the mission in historic fashion. The other has limped through the schedule hamstrung by attitudinal and behavioral issues resulting in suspensions. Redemption is within the realm of outcomes for the tortured basketball team.

Alabama Director of Athletics Mal Moore has been the chief purveyor of coaching talent. The broadest smile would be reserved for him if the two coaches hoisted a trophy in New Orleans. Maybe Moore would be the least surprised of anyone since he has experienced a double dose of pleasure from one city. He connected on a "Hail Mary" play rescuing a disenchanted professional football coach in Miami. Hailing from the same South Florida community was a rising college basketball bench jockey lured to Tuscaloosa. Considering the achievement would defy numbers not of this world, ramifications for The University would launch the status of the athletic program into a new stratosphere.

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