Bama On Track To Be Unwelcome

One who spends some time watching Alabama's offensive and defensive lines will get a sense of what Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban is looking for. On both sides of the ball through five games, Alabama has been dominating.

To be sure, it is only five games in this 2008 season, only five games since the end of a 7-6 season in Nick Saban's first year as Alabama head football coach. And it has been only a few months since most of the experts were predicting a season in which the Crimson Tide would finish in the middle of the pack in the Southeastern Conference Western Division, perhaps win seven or eight games, and probably make it to a mid-level bowl game.

The season is not over, and there could be a swoon as there was last season.

But somehow it doesn't seem likely. Last year's four-game losing streak to end the season was in great part because of the suspension of four players, including two starting offensive linemen.

In 2007, Alabama didn't have a senior quarterback and the nation's most impressive freshman class. It didn't have Terrence Cody. It didn't have running backs who could run over, as well as around, defenders.

Alabama football didn't have a full year of the process in 2007.

Bama is riding high right now. The modest expectations of pre-season polls have been shattered for the time being. Alabama's back-to-back road thumpings of Arkansas and Georgia, along with a handful of upsets of top-ranked teams, have pushed the Crimson Tide to second in the nation in the Associated Press poll, right behind Oklahoma.

Oklahoma and Alabama are two of those very few truly national teams. Seeing them at the top of the rankings reminds of a conversation with former Oklahoma assistant coach Larry Lacewell, who also toiled for the Dallas Cowboys and was head coach at Arkansas State. Lacewell, who described himself as the second best coach ever to come out of Fordyce, Ark., had also served as an Alabama graduate assistant coach at one time and was beloved by former Alabama Coach Paul Bryant (the first best coach ever to come out of Fordyce).

The subject of the nation's top teams playing more regular season games came up. Lacewell said, "I can assure you that when I was an assistant coach at Oklahoma, we weren't running up and down the halls yelling, ‘Get us a game against Alabama.'"

When Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa last January, he laid out a number of tenets. Particularly memorable is that he wanted a team that dominated, a team that other teams did not want to play against.

Alabama may not be there yet. But there are players on a few teams in the first half of Bama's schedule who are convinced.

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