NBA championship trilogies are rare for a reason. The hardest part, for even the most invincible champs, is neutralizing the fatigue factor and discovering a second and a third wind after, essentially, playing four seasons in three years.
The Miami Heat built their three-peat on the foundation of a perennial All-Star big man, the second-best two guard of the decade and King James. Combined, those three cost Riley $300 million – but at least they’re still under contract through 2014. The journey gets more difficult every year for Miami and next season is no different now that the Nets, Rockets, Pacers and Bulls have upgraded their stockade in the arms race for next season’s Larry O’Brien Trophy.
College football three-peats occur less frequently than roaches in the Hamptons. For one to come out of the SEC would have sounded preposterous four years ago. The SEC is already a nuclear holocaust, but the Crimson Tide have risen above the carnage to claim consecutive national titles. The conference has won seven straight BCS national championships and gets even tougher now that Johnny Manziel has Texas A&M’s sights set on a larger goal in 2013. Over at Auburn, Gus Malzahn, the offensive architect of their 2010 national championship campaign is back as head coach.
Unlike the NBA’s dynasty structure, in college football, cashing in on a few blue chip playmakers atop the recruiting rankings and hoping they pan out, isn’t enough. Even most blue chip prospects take time to turn the corner and once they hit their stride, a redeye flight to the NFL Draft is their next stop.
Since Nick Saban arrived on the scene, Alabama’s set the recruiting trail ablaze. In five out of the past six seasons, they’ve reeled in the best recruiting class in the nation. Usually, projecting the development of teenage athletes is an inexact science. Somehow, Saban’s got the formula figured all out. Alabama's rising Crimson Tide is sinking all boatseEn route to a potential three-peat
Cornerback Dee Milliner is gone, but most of the defense returns intact. The scariest part of ’Bama’s title defense is that last season was supposed to be the down year for what turned out to be the No. 1 defense in the nation.
The most difficult aspect of pulling off a championship trifecta is keeping players from getting full bellies. Players have a tendency to get complacent once they get a sip of success.
Nick Saban’s taken more involuntary Gatorade liquid baths celebrating BCS National Championships than Prince in the purifying waters of Lake Minnetonka. Fortunately, Saban doesn’t savor the flavor of his sticky Gatorade showers for too long, and doesn’t expect his teams to, either.
He can’t afford to. Top-10 squads inside and outside the SEC are thirstier for a Gatorade bath of their own than dudes commenting on Rihanna’s Instagram page.
The last program to pull off a three-peat came from an unlikely football powerhouse in Prince’s home state. Back when rubber helmets were the headgear of choice, the Minnesota Gophers pulled off the feat between 1934 and ’36.
During the Saban era, ’Bama drowned the nation’s most dynamic offenses behind an unforgiving defense. In 2013, Doug Nussmeier’s offense may be the driving force behind their potential three-peat. It’s no coincidence that the implosion of Washington’s air assault last season coincided with McCarron’s offensive explosion.
Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson became Heisman-winning runners behind ’Bama’s offensive line. TJ Yeldon assumes the mantle in the backfield next season, but he’s not alone. McCarron is the best Crimson Tide signal caller since Joe Namath was slinging touchdowns in fur coats, and he’ll be throwing to a receiving corps led by Amari Cooper, who eclipsed every freshman campaign record as the No. 1 receiver last season. The offensive revolution taking place at ’Bama will benefit from the return of Kenny Bell, Chris Black, and DeAndrew White, who they lost to injury.
The Miami Heat have a gaping hole in the middle of their lineup, and it’s enabled the league to gain on them. Conversely, Alabama may have actually increased their lead over the rest of the field. Catch ’em if you can, but don’t get your hopes up.