The biggest question mark is replacing three, maybe four, starters on an offensive line that paved the way.
Amari Cooper, who broke several of Julio Jones’ Alabama freshman receiving marks, and fellow freshman running back T.J. Yeldon give McCarron and the Tide a couple of potent weapons, even if Lacy doesn’t return.
“I am going to try to win three or four,” said Cooper, who had 105 yards and two touchdowns in the title game. “This season was good, but I expected it to be even more. There is so much more that I can do.”
Saban emphasized the difficulty of repeating and said he showed the players a video of NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan saying that the first title isn’t the hardest _ it’s the ones after that.
That’s because, Saban said, “you have to have the will to fight against yourself.”
Now, the `Bama coach has four titles, including one during his stop at LSU. Saban doesn’t wear the championship rings but uses them for a different purpose.
“I just put them on the coffee table for the recruits to look at,” he said, cracking up the room.
Saban has already lined up another highly rated recruiting class and has the next wave of young talents waiting in the wings.
After all, he talked about the sign mentor Bill Belichick hung in the football building during their NFL days together: “Do your job.”
Saban jokingly acknowledged that while he prepares for everything, the one thing he has never been able to anticipate is the Gatorade bath. He drew heat for a scowl after the first one, following the title game win over Texas when he got dinged in the head. Monday night’s dousing went better.
“It’s cold, it’s sticky, but I appreciated not getting hit in the head with the bucket,” Saban said. “That was an improvement.”
No program has had this kind of championship run since Tom Osborne’s Nebraska teams won it all in 1994, 1995 and 1997.
“I’m thinking, we’re never going to win a game,” Saban said. “We’ll never win a game here at Michigan State. I must have taken a bad job, wrong job, no players, something. I remember Coach Osborne when we shook hands after the game, he put his arm around me and whispered in my ear, `You’re not really as bad as you think.’”
So take heart, college football.