Alabama revels in return to top of college football

PASADENA, Calif. – Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain clutched a crystal football that is part of the national championship trophy. He wasn’t going to drop it. No way. The Crimson Tide had waited too long for this moment for him to fumble the precious bauble.

But as McClain walked toward a tunnel leading off the Rose Bowl field following Alabama’s 37-21 win over Texas in the BCS title game, he held it up and flashed it at the adoring Crimson Tide fans who rung and hung over the tunnel entrance.

“This is for you!” McClain shouted. The fans roared and furiously shook their pom pons.

This is Alabama’s first national title since Gene Stallings coached it to the pinnacle in 1992. And this makes it official: Alabama (14-0) is back. The rehab project is over. The disastrous Mike DuBose era is forgotten. The embarrassment of the Mike Price regime is expunged. The hard feelings of being dumped by Dennis Franchione have been washed away. And who was Mike Shula?

“Well, I’m really most happy for everyone else,” said Alabama coach Nick Saban, who won a title in just his third season and has gone 26-2 the past two seasons after a 7-6 debut in 2007. “You know, I’m happy for our fans, I’m happy for our players, I’m happy for all the people who work so hard to try to restore this, and I’m very happy myself that we were able to make such a significant contribution to something that’s a pretty significant accomplishment for our organization.”

With a 24-6 halftime lead, this game looked like it would be a laugher for Alabama with Texas quarterback Colt McCoy out with an injury and true freshman backup Garrett Gilbert floundering after completing 1-of-10 passes for minus 4 yards and two interceptions in the first half. But things got dicey in the second half.