TUSCALOOSA — While celebrating Alabama’s 15th national championship, Crimson Tide team captain Barrett Jones already was looking ahead.
He figured he’s allowed, since he completed his eligibility with the 42-14 win over Notre Dame, which clinched this season’s championship. Now, he’s a fan, preparing to watch a 2013 team that will include his brothers, Walker and Harrison Jones.
“Let’s go get No. 16. Roll Tide,” Barrett Jones told the crowd during Alabama’s national championship celebration Saturday.
The day included a parade with all of the football team members, the school’s Million Dollar Band, university president Judy Bonner, athletics director Mal Moore, homecoming queen Lissa Handley Tyson, Tide play-by-play announcer Eli Gold and even BCS executive director Bill Hancock. Head coach Nick Saban and his wife, Terry Saban, rode in the parade’s last car.
The day ended with an hour-long ceremony on the plaza outside the north end of Bryant-Denny Stadium, with Moore, Bonner, Jones and Tide head coach Nick Saban offering remarks.
Thousands appeared to be in attendance, although the university didn’t provide a crowd estimate. The parade and ceremony marked a time for fans to honor the team and its coach, who drew his biggest praise from Moore.
“What else can be said about him that hasn’t already been said,” Moore said. “Thank God he is on our side.”
As for Saban, he focused on his team, which he said, “I’ve never been prouder of any group than this group right here.”
He said this team meant so much to him because it managed to repeat as national champs.
“To win back-to-back championships is one of the hardest things to do in any sport,” he said. “That will be the legacy of this team -- to repeat and do things not many people are able to do.”
The ceremony began with a crimson drape over part of the stone behind Saban’s statue in the plaza, which lists the years of his national championship teams at Alabama. During the ceremony, Tide seniors Chance Warmack and Damion Square — team captains along with Jones — took off the drape to reveal “2012” etched in stone.
Later, Warmack wondered if some other set of team captains will uncover a “2013” etched in stone next year.
“Definitely, the train isn’t stopping at all,” he said. “Players leave, but players come in, and the coaches stay the same. They’ll be even better next year.”
Hancock revealed for the crowd his older sister graduated from Alabama. He even managed a “Roll Tide.”
In addition, he recognized Alabama’s three national titles in four years.
“For most people, if they’re luck, winning one is a once-in-a-lifetime event,” he said.
Saban closed by speaking about the Alabama fans.
“We have the greatest fans in the land,” he said. “That makes this special to be a part of. We thank you for that, and Roll Tide.”
Contact Mark Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org or 256-340-2461.