TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- With a win all but predetermined, Alabama’s 49-0 romp over Chattanooga on Senior Day was about staying in form for next week’s Iron Bowl against Auburn and appreciating the season’s last moments in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
There’s a reason you don’t play LSU for Homecoming; and there’s a reason that you don’t play Texas A&M on Senior Day. But a game against Chattanooga is a nice, relaxing way to give this decorated senior class a smooth sendoff before gearing up to face this season’s most important opponent: a cross-state trip to arch rival Auburn.
“We wanted to go out today and improve as a team, play better as a team, and play well for the seniors,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. “It was a pretty emotional day today for a lot of those guys.
“It’s kind of an emotional thing for me too at the end of the game because a lot of those guys have meant a lot to the program.”
A class of 16 seniors was introduced before the game with their families and was given rousing ovations from the fans who braved the uncharacteristically cold Alabama afternoon. Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron and the starters lasted through the first few minutes of the third quarter, but were pulled after the Crimson Tide had attained a 35-0 lead, the last time that the quarterback will ever throw a pass in Tuscaloosa.
“This has been the best five years of my life,” McCarron said. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
“It was just great, not only to go out with a win on Senior Day, but all the fans sticking around until the end really means a lot to us.”
Those fans that stuck around were rewarded after the game. This senior class—the winningest class in Alabama history—gave their appreciative fans one last memory of outright domination to remember them by. Led by McCarron, the group of seniors did a complete lap around Bryant-Denny Stadium, high-fiving anyone who could get their hand in the players’ path. Wide receiver Kevin Norwood was right behind McCarron on the victory lap and had to curtail some emotions after the game.
“I told you I wasn’t going to cry,” Norwood said. “I’m not going to cry because I did my best, I played my best, day-in and day-out, and gave it my all.”
By now, with so much success, Alabama fans are spoiled. A fan base so accustomed to winning that it is disappointed with a 25-point victory. But when the game ended on Saturday afternoon, a realization set in for the less-than-sellout crowd and the 16 seniors: These seniors won’t ever play in Tuscaloosa again. This class has done better than anyone could have hoped—most notably accounting for three national championships in four years—and will now advance to the next stage of their football careers and their lives after football.
Saban is close to this class, especially McCarron and linebacker C.J. Mosley, and the coach could not have been more complimentary to his graduating seniors after the game.
“The first thing I see is a bunch of good people that are going to have a very good opportunity to be successful in life at whatever they choose to do,” Saban said. “As a coach, you want to see guys reach their full potential, and I can’t really say anyone of those guys has not worked hard to do that.
“They have provided a lot of positive leadership for this team, which is really appreciated. They have been very, very productive in terms of their success that they have had here and contributed a lot to that success, everybody to varying degrees, but every one of them important in their role.”