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January 8, 2010TUSCALOOSA _ When the University of Alabama recently renovated Bryant-Denny Stadium, it placed large statutes of each national championship coach in front along the Walk of Champions.
However, it left the last spot empty.
"It was put there for this and I will recommend to the president that we go forth," said athletics director Mal Moore about adding Nick Saban after Thursday's 37-21 victory to secure the program's 13th title.
"Yeah. Hell yeah," he said.
"It is really difficult to express just how proud I am," Moore also said. "This team, these coaches and in particular coach Saban, the effort he's put into this program in the three years he's been here, and to reach this level and this peek, and win the national championship, is quite remarkable. I think it's just so fitting that we were honored to play in the Rose Bowl for the national championship and win it here."
Tide was beat up
Sophomore running back Mark Ingram was playing with a foot injury that caused him to miss some practice time and subsequently contributed to his cramping up.
"Mark had a little foot injury during this practice time that probably kept him from practicing as much as he needed to, and I think sometimes when players have the anxiety they have in games like this that it can affect how they perform in terms of getting cramps and things like that," Saban said.
Junior quarterback Greg McElroy also revealed that he sustained cracked ribs against Florida in the SEC Championship.
Junior linebacker Rolando McClain said that his bout with a stomach flu wasn't a factor, but ESPN reported he had two IVs before the game and one at halftime.
"Oh, I was going to play," said McClain, who had four tackles, two for a loss and broke up a pass.
Tight end Preston Dial's injury during the final moments was a neck spasm.
As expected, junior running back Terry Grant (abdominal strain) did not play.
Both Colt McCoy and Marcell Dareus were surprised that the defensive end's hit knocked the quarterback out of the game.
"I really didn't try to hit him that hard," Dareus said. "I didn't want to hurt him. It was a part of the game. You don't think, you just react, and I just reacted to what I saw. It is a part of the game. I didn't really try to hurt him."
However, the Crimson Tide saw a change in the Longhorns as the game went on, especially in the second half.
"It wasn't about seeing the fear, I saw determination," Dareus said. "They were like, man, we're not going down without a fight. Just because our leader is down, we're still going to play hard, we're still going to give them a fight.
"I mean, I saw more determination in them. They weren't going to give up."
Said Nick Saban: "Colt McCoy is a great player, and as much as I enjoy winning, you always hate to see a great competitor who's had a great career not be able to participate in a game that he's probably worked his entire career to be a part of. You know, that's heartfelt for us and his family, that he was not able to participate in the game today."
With 19 yards on three punt returns, senior cornerback Javier Arenas ended up 10 yards short of breaking the NCAA career record of 1,761 set by Texas Tech's Wes Welker in 2003. With seven touchdowns, he was also one short of the NCAA career mark.
The five sacks Texas recorded were the most Alabama yielded this season, with the previous high three by Auburn. It was the most since Utah had eight sacks in the 2009 Sugar Bowl.
It was probably a good thing that two seniors were the ones to give Saban the Gatorade treatment in the final moments. "I was looking for him to see how mad he was," Arenas said. "He got so furious he couldn't yell." Said Saban, much later: "Well, I wish they'd do the water. You know, the Gatorade is awful sticky."
McClain on the 24-hour rule not applying to this victory. "You can enjoy this until the start of the fourth-quarter (conditioning) program," he said.
Senior end Lorenzo Washington plans to stay active in the program even though his eligibility is up. "Once you go to Alabama, it's in your blood. You can't get it out, you're Alabama for life."
Alabama's victory gave the Southeastern Conference its fourth straight BCS National Championship and its sixth BCS title overall. The conference is now 6-0 in the title game. "This was a great night for Alabama players, coaches and fans and for the Southeastern Conference," commissioner Mike Slive said in a statement. "To give the SEC four straight BCS national championships is an outstanding accomplishment and to have three different SEC teams win national titles during that span shows the outstanding depth of quality programs we have in the league."
Strange but true, Alabama was 0-for-5 on third downs during the first half, but 7-of-11 on second downs ... Arenas, Mike Johnson and McClain were team captains. The Tide won the toss and elected to receive. ... The temperature at kickoff was 60 degrees, with little to no wind. The officiating crew was from the Big East, with John McDaid the referee.