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ld, but his previous six losses were agains

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Nick Saban knows what he wants to say. For a week and a half, he has thought about this. And today, inside Bryant-Denny Stadium, he has a plan: Start out slow, pat everyone on the back like hes supposed to and then pivot. It wont be a smooth transition, but it will be one everyone remembers.Its January 16, 2010. Its below freezing. Theres a constant drizzle, but it doesnt dampen the spirit of the parade and the celebration that follows. Not after the near-two-decade national championship drought that came before, the void since Gene Stallings and Derrick Lassic dominated Miami in the 1993 Sugar Bowl. Some 38,000 people have shown up to revel in lucky No. 13, filling the half of the stadium in view of the podium. Its way more people than senior offensive lineman Mike Johnson and his teammates anticipated. A couple dozen fans gather behind the stage for a chance to listen, for a shot at winding up inside the wide-angle lens of history.Saban is flanked by trophies as he leans into the microphone at midfield. To his left: the SEC Championship, the Heisman, the Butkus. To his right: that old crystal football the BCS used to hand out. His team is behind him. Athletic director Mal Moore and chancellor Robert Witt are on stage, too. They listen intently to the man they spent so long chasing, believing he could resurrect Alabama. After Moore made his final pitch to lure Saban from Miami in 2006, Witt asked him how he felt about their chances. If I dont get Coach Saban on this plane, Moore told him, Im not coming back to Tuscaloosa, Im going to Cuba.Three years later, and here they were, Saban making it a point to thank both Moore and Witt as he addresses the crowd. Then comes the turn, the moment he was waiting for.But I want everyone here to know, Saban says, holding his hand out to stop the applause. For this, he needs their undivided attention. His voice grows louder.This is not the end. This is the beginning.Those two sentences, that sentiment, would come to mean many things to many people. For Witt, it brought a sigh of relief. For those players coming back next season, a loud wake-up call. For fans, it was everything.Sabans words that day didnt lead to a second national championship in 2011. Rather, it was a way of going beyond that, a way of reaching out for a third and fourth title to come. It was bold, no doubt. Confident. Focused. Determined. Looking back, it was the mission statement of his plan to build and sustain a dynasty at Alabama.* * *No one saw this day coming.Its August 26, 2016, and Saban is addressing reporters for the final time during fall camp. Up next: the season opener against USC -- the first step in Alabamas quest to repeat as national champions.Everything is familiar about this scene. Saban is part prickly, part charismatic. Asked whether the staff has discussed playing two quarterbacks, he says matter-of-factly, No, we havent had any discussion about that.A reporter has a follow-up, but wonders first whether Saban wants to finish his answer.Its a pretty simple question and pretty simple answer, Saban says before pausing a moment. Like Id tell you if we were going to.Cue the laughs. Cue a big grin across Sabans face.Its all so normal. But in the context of Saban circa January 2010, its anything but.Setting aside the notion that he seems happier than ever -- or happy at all -- the simple fact that Saban is still at Alabama, beginning his 10th season as the Tides head coach, is noteworthy.Witt was optimistic this day would come, of course, but in his heart of hearts he was never certain. Saban had never stayed anywhere more than five years prior to arriving in Tuscaloosa. Another college job could have pulled him away, maybe the challenge of another shot at the NFL.When Witt and then-athletic director Moore shook Sabans hand in the locker room after beating Texas for the title, they knew they had to stay on top of him. In what Witt described as a coordinated plan, the two communicated a message to Saban: Everything we said to you during the recruiting process regarding having the resources you need to be successful, youll have them.Sitting behind Saban in Bryant-Denny Stadium six years ago, Witt heard, This is not the end. This is the beginning, and his wheels started turning. He took a half-beat longer than the rest of the crowd to start clapping. But he thought he knew what Saban meant: What they said when they were recruiting me was the truth.Witt put it another way: I was focused on, Its the beginning, of what hes going to do -- at the University of Alabama.We werent sure which direction the program was going to go, said offensive lineman and team captain Mike Johnson. After Year 3 and winning a national championship, you wonder if something will come up and hell head out of town. I think when he said that, it calmed everybody down.Now they felt they had him. For life.To this day, Witt and Saban maintain a close working relationship. Witt has seen firsthand his growth -- the way he has tried to savor some of the victories, the way he has relished becoming a grandfather. Witt has even found ways to make Saban laugh. But that doesnt mean he has seen him slow down. That singular focus of his hasnt subsided.The easiest way for me to describe that dimension of Coach Saban is by example, Witt said. It was a day or two after signing day a few years back.As Witt and Moore were leaving the football facility they decided to stop by Sabans office to see how he was doing. Only he wasnt there.And Mal said, I know where he is, and we went down to a small office he uses for screening film online. He was looking at film of high school juniors. He was already thinking about the next signing day.Nicks entire professional life has been very intense working an extraordinary number of hours, Witt added. I dont see him being able to retire easily. Hes just too used to the intensity. So I think were going to be blessed with a few more years.* * *The coaches heard the payoff to Sabans speech first.It was the day after the national championship. They were all still in California at the team hotel making preparations to leave when a staff meeting was called.According to then-offensive coordinator Jim McElwain, thats when Saban said it: This is not the end.Time to start recruiting. Time to start building for 2010 and beyond.The understanding is that piece is done, and no one really cares what you did for me yesterday; What are you doing for me today? McElwain said. And yet that was the mentality of the whole organization. Not just the players. Im talking about anything that touches [Sabans] desk. And if you thought any other way, it was probably a good opportunity to leave.He knew there was success to come, and he was going to build it, said then-defensive coordinator Kirby Smart.Smart said repeating those remarks at the championship celebration was clearly by design.It worked on Greg McElroy. As a first-time starting quarterback, he had just won a national championship. He and his teammates were still, as he put it, coming down from the high that began in Pasadena, California. They werent ready to start thinking about a repeat as they took their seats inside Bryant-Denny Stadium. Then Saban turned on a dime.He wanted to make sure, not only us as a team but also to the fan base, that look, this is not something that were going to settle for, this is not going to be a one-time thing, this is something that we anticipate doing every year, McElroy said.Hes always focused on whats next. People always mention the process. That is the process -- not looking back, looking forward and figuring out a way to overcome the obstacles that lie front of you.* * *O.J. Howard and Jonathan Allen were pups when Saban gave what has become Alabamas version of the Sermon on the Mount.Howard was all of 15 years old, a gangly tight end imagining what it would be like to make varsity in Prattville, Alabama. Allen was a wide receiver in Virginia still years away from the transformation that would make him a nearly 300-pound defensive end.Their memories of that time in early 2010 are hazy. But thanks to a video thats played before every Alabama home game, Sabans message has become a sort of callback for the seniors.This is not the end ...This is the beginning, Howard finished.Said Allen: When you truly believe in your process, when you truly believe in the work ethic and dedication of you, your staff and your family, then you can have the utmost confidence to repeat the success youve been having.Confidence is one thing. Cockiness is another, though.Alabama may have the best coach of his generation. It may be the most talented team top to bottom in the country. And playing in the SEC, it may have the clearest path back to the playoff. But that guarantees nothing. Their No. 1 ranking in both polls is as much a curse as it is a gift.What isnt certain now -- in fact, what can never be certain -- is how players will handle success. Will complacency creep in? Will they start worrying about themselves more than the team? It has happened before. Former linebacker Reggie Ragland said that in 2014 some of his teammates were more concerned with draft grades than the scoreboard. Its human nature; winning becomes less important the more you do it.Its why you cant look back. Its too dangerous.The day after beating Clemson to win the national championship earlier this year, Saban took a brief nap on the team plane as it headed back to Tuscaloosa. Then he opened a laptop to watch a replay of the game. He wasnt trying to relive the glory -- that brilliant onside kick, Derrick Henrys three rushing touchdowns, the confetti and the celebration that followed. Rather, he wanted to do some self-scouting, breaking down offense, defense and special teams. He wouldnt have time later, he explained. He had to be on the road recruiting within two days.Even now, as Alabama begins its quest for a fifth national championship under Saban, his words following that first title still ring true. He has tweaked the message of late -- So what? Whats next? is the new locker room manta -- but theres no mistaking the source material.The message that I was trying to send when I said that was, We didnt just come here to win one national championship and then thats the end of it. We want to continue to build on this standard and challenge everybody to have a consistency in performance over time to a standard that is something special, he said. So it wasnt the end. It was the beginning. That was the way we wanted it to be.Now the challenge is, can you continue that in the future? Were certainly going to try as we have for the last nine years. Cheap Jerseys Wholesale . The Oilers come in having lost five in a row (0-4-1) and 16 of their last 20 games, dropping a 2-1 decision to the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday. Cheap Jerseys China . Pettersen, winner of last years Evian Championships, had nine birdies and three bogeys, holding off a series of challengers led by Marion Ricordeau of France. The second-ranked Norwegian made her season debut after missing the LPGA Tours opening event last month in the Bahamas because of a shoulder injury. http://www.authenticjerseysnflwholesalecheap.com/ .com) - The red-hot Los Angeles Kings will try to extend their winning streak to a season-high seven games when they visit the Edmonton Oilers for Sundays clash at Rexall Place. China Jerseys Authentic . Goals from Jerome Boateng, Franck Ribery and Thomas Mueller extended Bayerns unbeaten run to a record 37 matches. "This record is incredible," Bayern coach Pep Guardiola said. Wholesale NFL Jerseys China . The mixed zone is not a place to make friends. LONDON -- Taking the court as the No. 1-ranked player for the first time, Andy Murray got the job done.The Wimbledon champion was tested for much of his opening match at the ATP finals but still came out on top, playing in his home country and beating Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-2 Monday at the O2 Arena.It was obviously nice to play in that stadium with the crowd like that. It obviously helps, Murray said. After a long, kind of, few months, its nice to know that Im going to be finishing the year playing in that sort of atmosphere.Murray took over at the top of the rankings last week, replacing Novak Djokovic. But the year-end No. 1 ranking is still up for grabs and could be decided on Sunday if both Murray and Djokovic reach the final.The prospect of attaining that, however, doesnt seem to be weighing too heavily on Murrays mind.The last few days, I havent thought about it too much, Murray said. It didnt change much for me.It certainly hasnt affected his ability to win matches. Murray has won a career-high eight titles this season, including a second Wimbledon title in July and a second straight Olympic gold medal in August. Since then, he has won titles in Beijing, Shanghai, Vienna and Paris.The latest victory on Monday didnt come so easy. Murray struggled to win his service games in the first set against Cilic, but still ended up saving all but one of the five break points he faced in the match. On the other side, he converted four of his five break points.When I need to step in, I didnt. When I need to wait a little bit longer, I wasnt waiting, said Cilic, the 2014 U.S. Open champion. The hitting could have been better. Yeah, a little bit unfortunate to go 6-3, 6-2 down, where it felt it was much, much closer in the first sett.dddddddddddd Beginning of the second, I had couple chances as well.In the early match, Stan Wawrinka finally lost a match at the ATP finals to someone who hasnt been ranked No. 1 in the world. The U.S. Open champion, who has reached the semifinals of the season-ending tournament for the last three years, was beaten by Kei Nishikori 6-2, 6-3.It was not a great match compared to what I can do, thats for sure, said Wawrinka, a three-time Grand Slam champion. I dont think I find anything on the court today. I was a little bit slow on everything. I was hesitating a lot with my game, my movement.Wawrinka holds a 6-7 record at the tournament for the top eight players in the world, but his previous six losses were against Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal -- twice to each.Mondays loss doesnt mean Wawrinka is out of the tournament, but it hurts his chances of finishing the year as the No. 3-ranked player. Wawrinka, Nishikori and Milos Raonic all have a chance to end up one spot behind Murray and Djokovic.Im sure I still have something inside me to play some great tennis before the end of the year, so Im going to try everything for that in the next match, Wawrinka said. Im going to do what I need to do tomorrow to get ready for trying to play better in two days.Nishikori, currently ranked fifth, helped his own chances of reaching that third spot by breaking Wawrinka twice in each set while not allowing a single break point on his serve.Im not thinking too much about rankings, but would be nice if I could finish 4 or 3, Nishikori said. I see good chance to be there if I can play good this week. China Jerseys Cheap NFL Black Jerseys Wholesale NFL Autographed Jerseys NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys NFL Cheap Wholesale Nike NFL Jerseys Wholesale NFL T-shirts Camo China NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys China Cheap NFL Autographed Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys 2019 Wholesale Nike NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys 2019 Cheap Nike NFL Jerseys China NFL Hoodies ' ' '

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