NEW ORLEANS -- Nick Saban had a hard time remembering staying up that late.
Monday night went well into Tuesday morning after the Alabama football coach claimed his second national title in three years. He even skipped the two Little Debbie oatmeal cream pies over coffee and the Weather Channel to sleep in.
“I couldn’t get people out of my room until 3:00,” he said. “I haven’t been up until 3:00 in a long time.”
He hasn’t been this satisfied in a while either. Claiming Alabama’s 14th national title with a comprehensive 21-0 beating of LSU Monday night, Saban couldn’t deny savoring this one even more than the previous two championship moments.
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“Well, to be honest, I think I maybe did,” he said. “This team was a special team, not that the 2009 team was any different. It was a really special group and I feel very privileged to have been a part of that.”
That 2009 Alabama title team went unblemished, won the SEC title and had a Heisman Trophy winner in Mark Ingram.
This team took the longer road to the same destination, losing to LSU 9-6 in the regular season and requiring a few upsets to earn Monday night’s rematch.
LSU, the unanimous No. 1 team in human polls entering the night, only crossed midfield once and was outgained 384-92 by an inspired Alabama offense.
Unlike the November loss, Alabama pulled the reigns off quarterback AJ McCarron. The sophomore responded by completing 23 of a season-high 34 attempts for 234 yards to earn offensive outstanding player honors.
“I don’t think I did anything special, really. I mean, I always bust my butt in the film room,” McCarron said. “I mean, it helps when you got a little longer, you can study them a lot more. But I bust my butt in there, and I know everything they want to do -- certain downs and distances. But that goes back to our coaching staff.”
Saban said the throw-first game plan was drawn up after watching the game film from the first LSU game. They had to trust McCarron to throw down the field and take a few risks.
“I just want everybody to know I’m not conservative,” Saban said. “I want to throw the ball all the time.”
LSU, meanwhile, threw the ball only 17 times. Quarterback Jordan Jefferson was sacked four times and intercepted once.
No, Tiger coach Les Miles wouldn’t return to the Bourbon Street balcony he celebrated the 2008 BCS Championship Game victory.
“I told my team that it should hurt,” Miles said. “We fight like hell. And we finished second. It’s supposed to be painful.”
Saban’s postgame celebration went a little better than the last one. He took a Gatorade bucket to the face in the closing moments of the 2010 championship win over Texas courtesy of seniors Eryk Anders and Chris Rogers.
Saban was visibly unhappy after that dousing.
He was all smiles this time. “The players improved in terms of their ability to deliver and I improved my ability to accept,” Saban said smiling again. “Everybody was happy.”
But how long will that last?
Saban’s morning-after news conference two years ago got contentious when he was asked about being the preseason No. 1 with a shot at repeating.
Tuesday, he said “every year is a bit of a rebuilding year,” and he’s not looking to hang it up any time soon.
“I really do think that maybe only thing that’s changed about me is winning the game is not enough,” Saban said. “It really is not enough. “Doing it the right way is one of the big things this team did.”