Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

COLLEGE FOOTBALL ; Death of a Dynasty? Crimson Tide Not Done Yet

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

COLLEGE FOOTBALL ; Death of a Dynasty? Crimson Tide Not Done Yet

Article excerpt

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Reports surfaced almost immediately after Alabama's blunder-packed loss to Mississippi suggesting that the dynasty was dying. Then the second-ranked Crimson Tide emerged from a players-only meeting the following week determined to both ignore the critics and prove them wrong. Since then, 10 straight wins have secured Bama a date in the Cotton Bowl against No. 3 Michigan State in the national semifinals on Dec. 31 and quelled that talk - for now, at least.

The Tide's lone loss, to Mississippi on Sept. 19, followed unimpressive finishes to back-to-back seasons. That Alabama was on the wane was an easy contention to make despite an uncharacteristic five turnovers and one long Rebels touchdown on a pass that deflected off a helmet contributing to the 43-47 defeat.

The clock hasn't struck midnight on the powerhouse program, even if that game ended about that time.

Defensive tackle Jarran Reed thinks the Tide has "proved a lot of people wrong. The reaction to that lone defeat certainly gave the players something to rally over.

, and Reed and others are still miffed about it.

"Lose one game, that's what people do, Reed said. "They think the season's over with. They think you're going downhill. They think you're going to fall off. But we don't listen to any of that. We keep playing our game. We've got each other in here, and that's all you need.

So far it has been enough. The talent, after all, is still there, with Nick Saban bringing in waves of highly rated prospects each year. The defense remains among the nation's best, and indefatigable tailback Derrick Henry won the Heisman Trophy, after all.

Alabama has won its last 10 games by an average of 21.7 points, including a 29-15 dispatching of No. 19 Florida in the SEC title game.

The team that turned it over five times against the Rebels has committed six turnovers since then and forced 12.

It's hard to measure the impact of that team meeting, but it certainly appears to have had a galvanizing effect.

"I think everybody elevated the level of intensity and the standard (to which) they were holding themselves accountable for their play, Saban said. "Whether it came from that meeting, or wherever it came from, all I can say is that the players responded the right way to a loss and we started to make progress as a team. …

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