❚ Sa­ban and Alabama might roll for a while,

USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - INSIDE - Paul Payne

MI­AMI GAR­DENS, Fla. – As the Crim­son Tide con­tinue to roll, a new phrase has been coined: “Alabama fa­tigue.”

A unified coali­tion of Alabama haters has emerged, beg­ging for some­body, any­body to de­throne the Crim­son Tide from the lofty perch atop foot­ball’s hi­er­ar­chy they have main­tained for most of the past decade. Alabama has been ranked No. 1 at some point dur­ing the past 11 sea­sons, and it has claimed five na­tional ti­tles in that span.

But you had bet­ter get used to it. Alabama isn’t go­ing away any­time soon.

Its 45-34 dis­man­tling of Ok­la­homa in last week­end’s play­off semifinal was quickly de­cided. The Crim­son Tide scored on its first four pos­ses­sions to take a 28-0 lead, send­ing the weary Alabama haters scram­bling for the TV re­mote.

The vic­tory in the Or­ange Bowl at Hard Rock Sta­dium places Alabama (14-0) in the na­tional cham­pi­onship game for the fourth con­sec­u­tive year.

The Crim­son Tide will face Clem­son with the ti­tle on the line for the third time on Jan. 7 at Levi’s Sta­dium in Santa Clara, Cal­i­for­nia.

Some might in­sin­u­ate that Alabama fan are spoiled, that this un­prece­dented run of suc­cess can­not con­tinue for­ever. Maybe so.

But as long as Nick Sa­ban is in charge of the pro­gram, don’t ex­pect a let­down.

His at­ten­tion to the most minute of de­tails, his re­lent­less pur­suit of per­fec­tion and his un­bri­dled in­ten­sity never take a day off.

Plus, the Crim­son Tide just signed per­haps their best batch of re­cruits ever in this cur­rent topranked re­cruit­ing class. Ex­pect less turnover among the coach­ing staff dur­ing the offsea­son, with offen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Mike Lock­sley’s de­par­ture to Mary­land likely to be filled by quar­ter­back whis­perer Dan Enos.

But the most omi­nous mes­sage for those who view Alabama as some sort of Death Star was ut­tered by Sa­ban ear­lier last week.

“The road to suc­cess is al­ways un­der con­struc­tion,” Sa­ban said. “We know we can’t win ev­ery game, and we know we can’t be per­fect, but we’re cer­tainly try­ing to work ev­ery day to close the gap on how good we can be.”

In other words, with Sa­ban one win away from his sixth na­tional ti­tle at Alabama — and his record-setting sev­enth, which would sur­pass the leg­endary Paul “Bear” Bryant — the best might still be yet to come.

So to all the naysay­ers who em­brace the “any­body but Alabama” mind-set, get over it.

This dominant run by the Crim­son Tide won’t slow down any time soon as long as Sa­ban is call­ing the shots.

Nick Sa­ban

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