MIAMI GARDENS, Fla.—Alabama can finally say the D-word.
After embarrassing Notre Dame 42-14 Monday night to win its second consecutive national championship and third in four years, Alabama can certainly call itself a dynasty. It's more than well earned.
"I think three out of four is pretty close to a dynasty," said center Barrett Jones. "I guess I can say that now that I'm leaving. It was special to be a part of something this great and have the teammates that I have that are so dedicated to winning and dedicated to being the best."
Head coach Nick Saban has shunned the D-word ever since it became apparent that the Crimson Tide had a chance to make history. But after Alabama imposed its mighty will on a previously undefeated Notre Dame—by scoring on its first three possessions, including two rushing touchdowns matching the number of scores the Fighting Irish had allowed on the ground all year, racking up 529 yards of total offense, preventing Notre Dame from converting on third down (they were 2 of 8) and stopping the run (the Irish had 32 yards rushing)—there's no doubt the Tide has earned the right be called a dynasty.
"We had a mindset of ‘I will not be denied' and that's what we did today," said right tackle D.J. Fluker. "We've been there before. We know how to handle business when it comes down to it. We've played through adversity. We wanted it bad enough. We Alabama."
Fluker said this game was easier to play than the SEC Championship game against Georgia because of the amount of time they were allotted to prepare. They knew how to weaken Irish and play the game at the tempo of their choice.
"We played the game 5,000 times inside our head and we had the mindset that we were going to go out there and play hard," he said. "We expect to win."
Now the question on everyone's mind is when will this end? When will Alabama quit dominating the college football landscape? When will the SEC's national title run, that's been extended to seven crowns in a row, stop?
"It's exhausting being part of the process," Jones said. "Don't get me wrong, I love it, but it's exhausting. I'm just going to be honest with you guys. To never let your guard down and to never relax and to never take a break, it's tough. And the price of victory is high and those willing to pay the cost are few."
But luckily for Alabama, and unfortunately for the rest of the country and SEC haters, the Tide has more in the tank. Despite losing a chunk of its stout offensive and defensive lines, key pieces to Saban's puzzle return next year as both A.J. McCarron and C.J. Mosley announced last month that they'll be back.
If Lacy turns pro, T.J. Yeldon obviously becomes the starter. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a true freshman and had five 100-yard games. Rising star Geno Smith has the skill set and maturity to take over for Milliner. It will be a task to find a replacement for Fluker, but Saban and offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland will certainly make that a priority this offseason.
As far as other positions go, Alabama will be more experienced at wide receiver next year when injured veterans like DeAndrew White and Kenny Bell are healthy, and the experience Amari Cooper gained as a freshman will be invaluable next season and the next. Add Chris Black to the mix and Bama will boast quite a corps.
Alabama should be the pre-season No. 1 next year. There will be a few schedule hurdles as the Tide tries to make it to the Rose Bowl and achieve the unprecedented in winning three straight national championships. There's a road trip to College Station where a title hungry Johnny Manziel led Texas A&M awaits in early September, and there's also the usual suspects that will try and crash the party at the end of the season when Alabama plays Tennessee, LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn. Then there's a potential SEC Championship rematch against Georgia, who will get Aaron Murray back for one more year at quarterback.
And Saban and Co. will get to work on all that come Thursday.
"I think there's no continuum of success," Saban said. "The process begins, but it's ongoing. If you don't pay attention that, you're not going to stay up."
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