There was no conversation about the Alabama Crimson Tide in the inaugural College Football Playoff following a loss to Ole Miss and a win against the Arkansas Razorbacks that was anything but glamorous. The narrative centered on whether the Crimson Tide dynasty that had held college football by the throat for the better part of a decade had finally died.
Cheesy clichés regarding how times change aside, Alabama’s season balanced on a razor’s edge. The Tide wouldn’t have been the first team that couldn’t pick itself up off the mat after suffering through adversity. Instead, everything clicked into place for Alabama. It wasn’t always pretty, but the team came together during the second half of the season, and that sense of togetherness has carried into media week ahead of the Sugar Bowl.
Players themselves have differing opinions about when the team truly came together. Cyrus Jones believes the team clicked the week after the Tide battled the Razorbacks when Texas A&M came to town. He explained his belief by saying, “I think that (Texas A&M game) was our most complete game on defense the whole year. I think we proved how good we could be, and we took that confidence and kept trying to get better.”
Reggie Ragland gave two answers. He agreed with Jones that the entire team dynamic changed for the Texas A&M, leading to the dominating 59-0 performance, but Ragland thought that the defense had come together a week before during the second half of the Arkansas game. According to the young man from Madison, Ala., “The defense really started to click during the Arkansas game going into the fourth quarter. We made stop after stop after stop to try and beat them.”
Finally, Xzavier Dickson gave the bluntest answer of the day when he simply replied, “Ole Miss loss” when prompted about when the team pulled together. He did follow up by admitting that the team bought in after the game and did what they had to do in order to get into the Playoff.
The common theme from all of the players was that the team had clicked. It was an echo of the refrain that dominated Tuscaloosa for months as the Tide worked their way back into the national championship conversation. The continuing echoes foretell a team that is focused, and together in a rare and special way. It’s the perfect base for securing a sixteenth national championship.