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No. 4: It's Bama's World, The Rest of Us are Just Living in It

The Tide had a great calendar year -- and not just on the football field. The only question is how long the streak will last

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Spor

Sometimes, it's just not fair how much success one program is having. Take 2006-07, when Florida won two straight NCAA basketball championships, sandwiched around taking the crystal football after the 2006 season. And if there was any program that most SEC fans would think has had enough success over its history, it would be Alabama.

Too bad. Alabama rang in 2012 with a win in its BCS National Championship Game rematch against LSU -- after hearing a month of complaints that they didn't belong there -- and ended the year with an SEC title and a shot at a second straight national title. That would be enough for a decade for most programs.

But Alabama's great year didn't stop there. The men's basketball team made it to the NCAA tournament for the first time in six years. And the Tide claimed its first national title in softball, just in case there was an area where they didn't excel. (Well, that and baseball, but we'll leave that for another day.)

In the course of all that, Alabama is doing things that no other team has done, for better or for worse depending on to whom you are talking. No team in the SEC's current streak, and no team in SEC history, has won the BCS National Championship Game. And the streak has not included a back-to-back national title winner. In fact, if you're counting repeat BCS champions and not factoring the AP into the equation, Alabama would be the first.

And it's football that has always been at the center of Alabama's mystique. For years, a number of people have argued that Alabama would never find another Bear Bryant -- and I've been one of them. (A number have less flatteringly implied that Tide fans have spent the last 30 years looking for one, and would welcome a zombie version as the head coach.)

Nick Saban is trying as hard as he can to prove that wrong. Not only would a win this year against Notre Dame give him back-to-back titles at Alabama, it would be his third in four years. This moment might be the peak of Saban's already-distinguished career; he had never won 10 or more games in consecutive seasons before he came to Alabama, and has never won fewer than 10 games since his first season in Tuscaloosa.

So maybe this year's strong showing by the Tide is more of the same instead of something truly new. But when a team has established itself at the top as firmly as Alabama, it's worth noticing. At least until someone knocks them out of the driver's seat.