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Ala. fans gather to welcome home championship team

TUSCALOOSA, ALA. (AP) - Vicki Richardson was at the airport to greet the University of Alabama's national champion football team when players and coaches arrived home Tuesday, just as she was after last year's team won it all.

And decked out in white overalls painted with Crimson Tide designs, Richardson said she already is planning to be on hand for next year's championship homecoming at Tuscaloosa Regional Airport.

"I think they can do it again," Richardson said.

Several thousand cheering fans gathered at the small airport for the team's arrival home after its drubbing of Note Dame in the BCS title game in Miami on Monday night. Chants of "Roll Tide!" went up as coach Nick Saban stepped off the plane; a pilot waved a `Bama flag from an open window after the charter jet rolled to a stop.

Fans standing behind a fence screamed and waved when Saban walked over to greet them, waving just like a politician working a crowd. Richardson, a Tuscaloosa resident, was right there among them.

"I'm excited. I think it's awesome," she said.

Alabama beat Notre Dame 42-14 for its second BCS title in a row and its third in four years. Saban said team members appreciated the warm welcome.

"I think it's great for our players. It really makes them feel good," Saban told reporters.

The university has held stadium rallies to celebrate the past wins, but school officials didn't immediately announce plans for one this year. The school's crystal BCS trophy will be displayed at a Walmart store near campus on Friday under a sponsorship agreement.

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