Jan. 16, 2010
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama football team commemorated its 13th national championship with a celebration at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Head Football Coach Nick Saban led the Crimson Tide on to the field, where the team was greeted by the cheers of an estimated 38,000 fans on the UA campus.
Alabama won the school’s 13th national title with a 37-21 win over No. 2 Texas in the 2010 Citi BCS National Championship Game on Thursday, Jan. 7. Sophomore running back and 2009 Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram was the offensive MVP, while sophomore defensive end Marcell Dareus was named the game’s defensive MVP.
The entire Alabama team was recognized for its accomplishments on Saturday with the national championship trophies, the SEC Championship trophy, the Heisman Trophy and the Butkus Award all on display.
UA President Dr. Robert Witt, Director of Athletics Mal Moore and Coach Saban addressed the crowd, along with Ingram and the permanent captains - Javier Arenas, Mike Johnson and Rolando McClain.
Senior Cornerback Javier Arenas
On the bittersweet feelings of today’s celebration:
“To see the fans as ecstatic as they are, and they deserve to be for the accomplishments that we all accomplished as a whole – the university fan base, the football players and the coaching staff. Just to see everyone once again in the same arena for the last time for some of us is a good feeling.”
On looking back at his accomplishments:
“I think when you play on a team like this and you develop the same characteristics of working hard and never accepting anything less than what you’re capable of, you’re so focused on the next thing and trying to get better at doing something. That’s the position I’m in. I’ve got a lot of things to focus on, finishing school, training and getting ready to move on to the next level. I’m so focused on that that I don’t really have time to look back; because that would mean that my football career is over when you start looking back. There is a lot more to be done. Now I’ve glanced back at some of the accomplishments that I’ve been able to gain, especially with helping my teammates. It’s cool for a second, but for the most part I’m focused and I’m moving on.”
On his excitement level moving forward with his football career:
“I’m very excited, but once again I’m very detail oriented. I’m working out and planning my schedule to work out and figuring out ways I can get better. I’m excited about what the future holds, whatever it is. You know me; I’m going 100 percent with it. I’m giving it all I have.”
Senior Left Guard Mike Johnson
On his life since the National Championship game:
“It’s been hectic. It’s been a lot of fun, though. You can’t ask for a better way to go out as a senior. To be a part of this team and have an experience like that in the last year. Today was a good time. It’s a nice way to sum up things for us as a football team. It’s a great way to express our gratitude to our fans. I know it was nice for our coaches to do the same thing.”
On receiving championship rings:
“I don’t know when those come. I’m not on the team anymore so I’m not as in the loop as I used to be. When they do come, though, I’ll be here. We were sized for our rings not too long ago. I’m just excited. I can’t wait to get that thing on my finger.”
On the progress of the program since his freshman year:
“It’s just amazing. I looked at Rolando next to me during the celebration and I just said, ‘This is crazy’. It just shows that if you put in so much effort and hard work, it really pays off for you. I really honestly feel like we’ve worked harder than any other team this year. That’s why we were able to come out on top. It was about putting in the hard work and it’s crazy to see where we’ve come from.”
On what Coach Saban said to the team before the celebration:
“He just said to enjoy it. I believe the main message to the rest of the team was, after today, it’s on to next year. We take this day but it’s about next year now. Fortunately, I have a little bit longer to celebrate. They are going to work to get ready for next year and I’ll start working toward my future. I’m sure everyone is just enjoying this day.”
Senior Tight End Colin Peek
On initial reaction to today’s crowd:
“You couldn’t ask for anything better. I love this place because the fans are fanatical. I couldn’t have asked to be part of a better family. It’s not the previous players or alumni; it’s the fans that root for you every day. No one makes you play harder when you come out of the tunnel even when you come out for an event like this where it’s just massive amounts of people yelling their hearts out. I am just so thankful to have that support behind me.”
On the feeling you had begin on the field today:
“At one point I was sitting next to Preston Dial and Greg McElroy and I turned to them and said this is a moment we will remember of the rest of our lives. It had the awe moment where you realize that this is the last time you will be on that field as player at the University of Alabama. I really just wanted to soak it in because when it’s all said and done 20 years from now, I’m still going to remember this.”
On the opportunity to play in Senior Bowl:
“It’s a great opportunity. The Senior Bowl is the all-star game of college football. I’m so thankful that was able to have an invitation there and hopefully make the most of it. It’s going to be a fabulous opportunity to meet with a lot of GM’s (NFL general managers) and coaches. It’s going to be an awesome opportunity.”