Somewhere buried beneath the BCS-themed confetti and Notre Dame casualties on Sun Life Stadium's field, coaching history was made.
Nick Saban, now without question the greatest college football coach of the BCS era, accomplished an achievement no other coach has come close to in terms of a dynasty Monday night: He pulled off his third national championship in four seasons. He did it in an era where only one system, as flawed as it may be, crowns college football's preeminent team. After a 42-14 win, Alabama joins the '90s-era Nebraska squad and the '40s-era Notre Dame squad as the only programs to win three in four.
The difference? Some unknown poll based out of Kalamazoo, Mich., can't just announce a team to be champion. (Well, technically, it could, but no one would listen because, you know, it's Kalamazoo.) No, Saban did it in the most competitive and exclusive era in college football history. He beat bluebloods — Texas, LSU and Notre Dame — to get there, too. Go ahead and add Oklahoma to Saban's BCS hit list, also, for his 2003 trophy courtesy of the LSU Tigers.
With a dominance that does not look to diminish any time soon, the question will pop up consistently in the coming weeks: What motivates the great ones? Saban tried the NFL and hated it. He owns college football to the extent that an undefeated, No. 1 team in the country was a 10.5-point underdog before getting bulldozed by 28 points.
At this point, only an untouchable legacy propels Saban. He has his eyes on Bear Bryant's six national titles. He has his eyes on history.
He may not want to admit it to himself (or the media), but he's already made it.
SEC takes the cake (again)
Largely on the shoulders of Saban and former Florida coach Urban Meyer, who was also in attendance Monday night, the Southeastern Conference re-established its national dominance once again.
Yes, that's seven championships in a row. There's just no end in sight.
Every season (including right here) a good portion of sports writers claim, "This is the year the SEC's run comes to an end." And each year, those prognostications come crashing down. Texas couldn't stop it. Oregon couldn't stop it. And, as Saban walked onto the field drenched in Gatorade, not even the lore and luck of the Fighting Irish could derail the train of Commissioner Mike Slive's insurmountable conference.
Best advice right now? Beg for membership status.
In a day and age where the media and fans are so quick to crown Who's Next, AJ McCarron continues to be overlooked and shrugged off as a game manager benefitting from Alabama's defensive prowess and elite offensive line. And, in some regards, he is a beneficiary. But Saban's program has reached its pinnacle with McCarron under center, and when the biggest game is on the line he's proven himself more than capable of bringing it home.
McCarron finished the BCS Championship 20-of-28 for 264 yards and four touchdowns against the No. 1 scoring defense in the nation. Say whatever you will about his skills or role, but McCarron is flirting with one of the most accomplished college quarterback careers in history. He didn’t do it alone (his running backs, Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon are just ridiculous), but remember, just last season he torched LSU to the tune of 23-of-34 passing for 234 yards.
He's now the first quarterback of the BCS era to lead his team to back-to-back national championships.
Tim Tebow may have the career numbers. Johnny Manziel is generating buzz for his potential.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, on this night there's no questioning the facts: Consecutive championships for any quarterback, much like the SEC's place at the top of the college football world, is indisputable.
Oh yeah, he's likely to be going for No. 3 in 2013.