The Battle Plan

Dec. 17, 2013

Our Sugar Bowl matchup with Oklahoma will be a special opportunity! It not only matches two of the most consistently winning programs in the history of college football, but it also is a game between two programs that have combined for a staggering 62 bowl game victories and 59 College Football Hall of Fame inductees.

Coach Saban

Obviously, I was very pleased to conclude an agreement with Coach Saban last week, an agreement that will keep him at Alabama for the remainder of his coaching career. I remain impressed with his commitment to building complete student-athletes and continuing to build on the incredible foundation of success that he has created. He and Ms. Terry have brought so much more to our University, to Tuscaloosa and to our state than a championship program.

Captains

Captains for the 2013 Alabama Football team, as elected by their teammates at the Annual Football Banquet, are AJ McCarron, C.J. Mosley and Kevin Norwood. In addition to watching them perform all season, I had a chance to speak with them recently. These three young men are not only great football players, they are outstanding young men, the kind of people any of us would enjoy and be proud to spend time with - thoughtful, respectful, intelligent and well-spoken. They each deserve the immortality that goes with being an Alabama Captain, and the entire Tide Nation appreciates their loyal service.

Outstanding AJ

In addition to being the runner-up for this year's Heisman Trophy, our outstanding quarterback, AJ McCarron, was the deserving winner of two national awards last week - the Maxwell Award (going to the nation's outstanding player) and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award (awarded to the top fourth-year or senior quarterback in college football). Just as he has throughout his career, AJ is an outstanding representative of our school, our athletics program and our state. In fact, the daughter of Johnny Unitas commented that his acceptance speech was the finest she has heard in the 27 years of the award.

The Butkus Winner

The leader of our defense, linebacker C.J. Mosley, got a special surprise at our recent Football Banquet. We all knew he was a finalist for the prestigious Butkus Award, but C.J. and the rest of the audience were shocked to see the one and only Dick Butkus, former great Chicago Bears linebacker, emerge through the curtains onstage to present C.J. with his trophy ... personally delivered!

This honor is not awarded solely based on excellence on the field, but also on character, attitude and clean living. C.J. is deserving on all counts. And I can tell you without a doubt, by seeing how C.J.'s face lit up when he saw Mr. Butkus, that this year's winner fully appreciates and understands the significance of this great award.

Cade Foster

I would be remiss if I didn't say a few words about Cade Foster. I spent some time recently talking to Cade and I was truly impressed with his character, his outlook on life, and his academic goals and aspirations. He has been a great kicker and citizen for Alabama during his time here. All true Bama fans are proud of his accomplishments. The way his teammates and our fans have rallied around Cade speaks volumes about the kind of person he is. I personally look forward to our next game in the Sugar Bowl and seeing Cade kick the winning field goal or extra point.

Excellence in the Classroom

Our football program continues to raise the bar in every facet of student life, including academics. In 2009, the Alabama football team set a BCS record by fielding 23 student-athletes with undergraduate degrees in that year's national championship game in Pasadena. This year's team will surpass that mark. We expect to have a total of 28 student-athletes with degrees on the field against Oklahoma in this year's Sugar Bowl. Two of those will have completed master's degrees.

May you and your family and friends enjoy a wonderful holiday season. We look forward to seeing you in New Orleans to help the Tide start the New Year off in style.

Let's Keep the Tide Rising!

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