We all saw it. Alabama was up 42-14 over Notre Dame in the 4th quarter last Monday night – a crystal trophy was already within grasp. Then, quarterback AJ McCarron and center Barret Jones had a miscommunication on the snap count that resulted in a 5-yard delay of game penalty. As a result, McCarron let his center have it (who also happens to be his roommate) and Jones shoved McCarron on national television.
Only seven minutes from winning the national championship, up 28 points and with the ball, the quarterback and the center are having it out over a delay of game penalty.
What we saw was a significant moment, but not for dramatic reasons for which some hopped. McCarron and Jones are buds; it was a moment of emotion, driven by a desire to be the best, as Jones described after the game:
“We’re both perfectionists. He’s an emotional guy. We had a snap count difference,” Jones told ESPN on the field after the win. “I was right. But whatever, it doesn’t matter. We love each other and gave each other big hugs. It’s just how we are if you don’t know us.”
No, the moment was significant because of what it means about this Alabama football team. Nick Saban is known as the perfectionist. We’ve seen him go nuclear on the sideline over the smallest mistakes. This moment in the BCS Championship Game revealed that his team and his quarterback have bought into his perfectionist mentality and his approach toward success on the field. And with McCarron returning next season, it should be a warning to the rest of the SEC that Saban, McCarron and the Crimson Tide fully intend on winning it all next year again.
The toughest thing for Saban moving forward is to prevent his players from buying into an attitude that as long as Alabama shows up, they’ll win another championship. When you win three out of four, preventing this attitude from manifesting itself in the locker room isn’t easy. However, this moment late in last Monday’s BCS Championship showed the world that this attitude isn’t taking place. It also showed that McCarron, as leader of the team, is an extension of his head coach on the field both this year and heading into next season.
Kobe Bryant, one of the top competitors in American sports over the last decade, saw the same thing:
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) January 8, 2013
Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports