Last night couldn’t have gone much better for Alabama. The Crimson Tide further solidified their status as college football’s preeminent program by dominating Notre Dame 42-14 for their third national title in four years. And no Tide player had a better game than quarterback A.J. McCarron, who completed 20 of 28 passes for 264 yards and four touchdowns. So you can imagine how over the moon McCarron was as Alabama salted the game away, as he put the finishing touches on one of the best games he’s ever played and basked in the ultimate achievement and wait now what’s this:
This? It’s what happens when two guys who tend to think they’re right at all times, McCarron and center Barrett Jones, disagree on something (and based on their respective records of success, it should be noted, they’re usually justified in thinking they’re right). Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit both seemed amazed at the tension, but it makes perfect sense, really. Jones and McCarron are competitive, headstrong guys to begin with (“I’m right more than I’m wrong” is a direct Jones quote), and have been trained by Nick Saban to view every snap as if the world’s fate depends on its being properly executed… even if they’re already up four touchdowns in the fourth quarter of the national title game. Voila.
Yeah, it was a little odd to see this happen in the middle of what one might expect woud be a celebratory atmosphere, but it’s probably nothing that hasn’t happened plenty of times in practice. And if you think that there’s nothing that could delight Saban more than two of his players still that fired up when they are guaranteed to win the title, you’d be correct: in a news conference earlier today, Saban singled out the incident as indicative of the competitive spirit of both players.
And if you want to see even further what perfect extensions of their head coach Jones and McCarron were in that heated moment, watch to the end of the clip above and see Saban unload on a ref. He wasn’t letting up just because his team was mere minutes away from the pinnacle of college football, and neither were two of his best players. Life with Saban is long on journey, short on destination, and it’s hard to imagine a more clear picture of that mindset than a star quarterback and center screaming at each other over conflicting calls in a snap while they’re ahead 42-14 and about to win a championship. It’s the Saban way. It’s his players’ way, too. And given what went down last night, it’s hard to argue with the results.