Win Over Colorado Was Good One To Get

In the unmatched bowl history of Alabama, it is reasonable to say a victory in the PetroSun Independence Bowl is not going to get much attention. But that is for those who just don't get it.

For the past year, I have sat in several press conferences and been told my journalist brethren and I just don't get it. I'll admit I don't understand how Alabama's football team can look like a champ one week and like a chump in another. Or how it can make that transition during a game.

I'll admit I feared an LSU game-type meltdown until the last Buffalo had been planted in Independence Bowl Stadium Sunday night.

This was not a championship team, but it ends the year with a championship. Alabama Athletics Director Mal Moore isn't making a call to The University carpentry shop to get a new trophy case added, but it is better to be a bowl winner than a bowl loser.

For the 2007 team, which sometimes failed to finish, it is a good end. But more than that it is a good beginning. Alabama is headed to an excellent recruiting year, and some of those who sign with the Crimson Tide likely will play important roles on the 2008 team. But unless I just don't get it, the core of the next Bama team will be returning players from this year's squad.

Returning Tide players will be eager to build on the accomplishment of the 30-24 win over Colorado—a bowl win and a winning season. That's human nature. Mistakes were made in 2007, but players like John Parker Wilson and Rolando McClain and Nikita Stover and Ezekial Knight and Leigh Tiffin have more experience and more of what Coach Nick Saban calls "positive reinforcement."

From time-to-time as Alabama went through its season-ending tailspin, from 6-2 to 6-6, a Tide player would say something about all the players not being on the same page or not buying in. I don't get that. I also don't believe it. One hates to be brutally honest, but the fact is that Coach Saban and his Alabama staff are going to have to recruit the Tide out of this mess before they can coach Bama to championship level. For as long as I have talked to coaches, I have heard them say that it is better to go into the home of a prospect having won the last game than it is having lost.

Last year Alabama went to the Independence Bowl with a 6-6 record and ended up with a losing season. A loss in Shreveport this year would have been a second straight losing season. It wouldn't compare with the Bama misery of 1956-57, the last time the Tide suffered back-to-back losing seasons, but it wouldn't have been pleasant.

(One other thing I get is that as the 1957 season was coming to a close, Alabama made the decision to ditch the head coach and go get the best coach in the nation, which it did. Mal Moore made that same decision a year ago.)

A business adage has it that the difference between 49% and 51% is a lot more than 2%. The difference between 6-7 and 7-6 is more than just a game.

Alabama's considerable bowl reputation is not helped a great deal by appearing in the Independence Bowl, but Sunday night's game added to two incredible national records. It was Alabama's 55th bowl appearance and the Tide's 31st bowl victory. That second was particularly important. No one is within immediate striking distance of the participation record, but Southern Cal has 29 bowl victories and USC is the biggest favorite of any bowl team this year as it prepares for Illinois in the Rose Bowl.

Alabama also gave itself a winning record against Colorado and a winning record in the Independence Bowl (both now 2-1).

It's also nice for Saban to get a win in his first bowl game as Alabama's head coach. That hasn't happened often to Crimson Tide coaches.

Now Tiders can sit back for the remainder of the bowl season and watch coaches, players and fans of other schools. Half will join Alabama in celebration and half will agonize in season-ending defeat.

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