Is There Danger For Tide Football?
Alabama is coming off of its most successful season in years, with Coach Saban and his staff landing back-to-back No. 1 recruiting classes in 2008 and 2009.
So, it would be natural for fans to be, shall we say overzealous.
Some people might say, what is the harm in that?
This story originally appeared at BleacherReport.com
In recent days Saban has been sounding a warning about the team's expectations.
Here is what he had to say...
"Anything that we did last year does nothing but put a target on our back for what this team needs to get prepared for," Saban said. "I doubt before last season anybody had Alabama as one of the teams to beat to win the West, SEC or whatever."
"I think everybody will have Alabama as a team to beat this year. With that goes responsibility and obligation of our team to have a higher expectation of what we expect of ourselves."
"Do I see that happening? Do I think we have a cultural problem here in terms of expectation and all that stuff? Absolutely. I love our fans, I think we have the best fans in the world, but we have an issue with that."
Does Saban have a point?
Of course he does.
Does it come with the territory?
Of course it does.
The Alabama faithful have been waiting for their Moses to lead them to the promise land for years, and many believe Nick Saban is that leader.
So what exactly are Alabama fans expecting?
The same thing fans of any program with the winning tradition of Alabama expects—Everything.
Expectations are both a blessing and a curse for any major college football program.
A blessing, because it creates momentum and draws great players to the program.
A curse, because anything less than a championship could be criticized, and criticism is poison to a football program.
Alabama fans are known for their unrealistic expectations, which is one of the reasons Alabama boasts 12 National Championships. It is also the reason the program has gone through about a dozen different football coaches since Paul "Bear" Bryant died in 1983.
As a former Alabama player once said, "We are Alabama, or course we have high expectations. But because we are Alabama, we don't see them as unrealistic."
So are these expectations dangerous?
Only if the disappointment of not reaching those expectations leads to discontent, because discontent can be an incurable cancer over time.
Alabama fans should realize special teams do come along, but not every year. Talent, although important, is not the only ingredient needed. Yes, Alabama has talent, but it is very young talent.
I would estimate the 75% of the talent on the 2009 squad will be freshmen and sophomores. That bodes well for the Tide's future, but it could place a heavy burden on this years team.
The question is, are Alabama fans putting the cart before the horse? Are they trying to go too fast too soon?
The answer is yes.
Nick Saban calls it a "process," and the reason he calls it a "process" is because you build a championship team. It takes years, and it doesn't happen overnight.
Next year may well be another banner year for Alabama, or it could be another step in the process. Who knows?
Alabama fans need to temper their expectations with patients. You just can't watch what's taking place down at the Capstone without knowing it is leading to something great.
The trick is to realize that it takes talent, leadership, chemistry, and yes, a little luck, to win a championship. More importantly for Alabama fans it takes time.
Alabama fans know football, and they know what they are watching take place. I just wonder if they realize how long it might take?
Alabama had a special year last season, and were basically a few plays from playing in the BCS National Championship game. That was the result of great coaching and great senior leadership, mixed with some very special young talent.
I personally expect great things from Coach Saban, his staff, and these talented young men in the coming years. The question remains, are expectations too high for the 2009 version of the Crimson Tide?
Are Alabama fans being unrealistic?
I will answer that by saying this, it is no longer a matter of if, but when.
If that sounds unrealistic, so be it.
Editor's Note: From time-to-time we use articles from BlearcherReport.com. For more articles on Alabama at BleacherReport.com go to
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