Title Celebration Is A Good Show

Alabama's celebration of its 2009 national championship in Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday could have been subdued, owing to bad weather. The crowd was smaller than might have been anticipated, but it was raucous. And, as expected, it was given a good show. Fans arrived early, were treated to highlights of the 14-0 season on the video screens, and had an enthusiastic welcome for the Crimson Tide.

Alabama won the school's 13th national title with a 37-21 win over No. 2 Texas in the 2010 Citi BCS National Championship Game on January 7 at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena.  Sophomore running back and 2009 Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram was the offensive MVP, while sophomore defensive end Marcell Dareus was named the game's defensive MVP.

The biggest cheer in the 40-minute program for an individual was for Alabama Coach Nick Saban. He said he could not tell them how proud he was to be the head football coach at Alabama.

"This is what these guys did in three years to win the national championship," he said of the team's growth. He praised the 2009 team for its discipline and responsibility and commitment to work. "They did what they had to do to be the best they could be individually and collectively. And they believed they could be national champions."

Saban then called on the fans to give the team the greatest ovation, and the fans responded.

Saban also expressed his appreciation for the support of fans who have been a part of the Crimson Tide tradition.

He recognized the work of University President Dr. Robert E. Witt and Athletics Director Mal Moore.

And he said, "This is not the end."

He said the members of the program, returning players, and the players who would be joining the program in the future (there was a large contingent of prospects on hand) knew what it take to accomplish the task.

Alabama's six All-America players -- left guard Mike Johnson, placekicker Leigh Tiffin, cornerback Javier Arenas, nose tackle Terrence Cody, Butkus Award winner Rolando McClain, and Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram were introduced.

Captains Arenas, McClain and Johnson addressed the crowd and thanks fans for their support.

University President Dr. Robert E. Witt expressed pride in Saban and his coaching staff and the players for being the type football program that every school should have.

It was interesting that when the assistant coaches were introduced that the first was Jeremy Pruitt, recently elevated from director of player development to defensive assistant, replacing James Willis, who has accepted the job of defensive coordinator at Texas Tech.

Athletics Director Mal Moore, who has been a part of eight national championship teams at Alabama (1961 as player, 1964-65-73-78-79-92 as assistant coach, and 2009 as AD), expressed appreciation to the board of trustees and the president. "To Coach Saban, I can't say how appreciative I am of the leadership he provides for our program." He also thanked Alabama fans for being faithful. "You made a difference," he said.

And, Moore said, he enjoyed watching the team improve each week, "and then play for the national championship and win it in the Rose Bowl. You will be forever remembered."

Moore listed all the achievements of the team, including the 13th national championship, 22nd Southeastern Conference championship, being the NCAA leader is bowls played (57) and bowl victories (32) and in ten-win seasons (30). He noted that during the course of the season Alabama defeated the past three national champions -- Florida, LSU and Texas. Bama defeated 10 bowl teams and 10 teams with winning records.

There was a first among the many honors and accomplishments. Mark Ingram was the first Alabama player to win the Heisman Trophy. The event included a replay of his passionate acceptance speech, and then remarks from Ingram. He said he was happy to bring the trophy home to Alabama. And he thanked his teammates, coaches, and Alabama fans.

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