NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- Alabama coach Nick Saban has had several weeks now to diffuse what he’s termed the “David vs. Goliath” buildup to the Citi BCS National Championship Game.
Clearly, Saban has no desire for the Crimson Tide to play the role of Goliath, and neither do the players.
Alabama’s cause wasn’t helped much by Florida’s dominating performance in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The Gators could have named their score against Cincinnati in a 51-24 rout. And that’s the same Florida team Alabama spanked 32-13 in the SEC championship game back on Dec. 5.
The real media crunch will start later Sunday when the Alabama and Texas players report for their first scheduled interviews at the Newport Beach Marriott and Spa. The Alabama players are almost defiant about not letting this become a situation where Texas is painted as a huge underdog.
“That’s what the media is about, just hyping a lot of things up,” Alabama senior cornerback Javier Arenas said. “They blow it up. That’s what’s going to happen, no question. That’s what they do. Then when you take down Florida, that’s when they say you’re going to blow out Texas, which is insane because it’s two great football teams going at it.
“It’s going to be a very competitive football game.”
Wonder if Arenas and his teammates have been listening to Saban, who was tersely deflecting any talk of Alabama being an obvious favorite the night the Alabama vs. Texas matchup was officially announced?
But with Texas looking so beatable in its Big 12 championship win over Nebraska and Alabama looking so impressive in its win over Florida, it was a given that the Crimson Tide were going to be seen nationally as the better team.
Of course, a week earlier, Alabama was lucky to escape at Auburn after falling behind by 14 points and pulling out a 26-21 win thanks to a fourth-quarter drive.
Alabama senior offensive guard Mike Johnson knows what the Longhorns were thinking if they watched that game.
“That this team can be beat,” Johnson said.
In other words, all that matters is who's the better team come Thursday at the Rose Bowl.