Alabama Football Will Move Ahead

Prior to the Auburn game in one of his regular press briefings, Alabama Coach Nick Saban was asked about the difference in the good feeling of winning a game as opposed to the bad feeling of losing a game. Which was greater?

When I heard the question, I was pretty sure the answer would be that Nick Saban doesn't think that way. And that's what he said.

Many Alabama followers today, I suspect, know exactly what the question was about.

We say that the Alabama-Auburn game is about bragging rights for a year, but that doesn't seem to be the case. The 2012 Crimson Tide had bigger fish to fry than a 49-0 win over the cross-state rival, and there was far more conversation about Bama's 15th national championship, beating number one ranked Notre Dame, 42-14. Indeed, there was more talk about the come-from-behind win over LSU in Baton Rouge and the hang-on-for-dear-life victory over Georgia in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game than there was over the beat-down of Auburn.

There actually was more talk in the state last year about the 2010 Auburn win over the Tide than there was about last year's win over the Tigers or the previous visit to Jordan-Hare Stadium, a 42-14 win.

That shouldn't be a surprise. Following Auburn's 17-16 win over Alabama in 1972, the Tigers faithful lived on "Punt Bama Punt" even as Coach Paul Bryant's Crimson Tide was running off nine consecutive victories against Auburn, and Bama winning three national championships in that period.

Had Alabama won Saturday, it would have been business as usual for the Tide. On to bigger and better things. That won't happen in 2013, but it doesn't mean it's an end to Bama excellence.

There will be another game this year as Alabama adds to its national record for bowl appearances (and, hopefully, to its national record for bowl victories). There are fanciful scenarios that would give the Tide a chance at another national championship, but a more reasonable expectation (and it is reasonable under Coach Nick Saban) is to move forward to title contention in 2014 and beyond.

That means the same ingredients that have gone into the last three championships – excellent recruiting and great player development. And taking care of that business means not living on occasional past successes.

Meanwhile, prepare to hear bragging from the other side, and not just for a year.

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