As the confetti fell in Miami in January, Alabama had just crushed Notre Dame 42-14 and had won their second consecutive national title. But as they celebrated, Nick Saban’s gears were presumably turning in his mind that only knows football, Miss Terry and Little Debbie snack-cakes. His team had to replace their most cohesive unit, the unit that had been together for two years – two consecutive national title-winning years: the offensive line.
Saban’s teams at Alabama have always had the ability to rebuild and reload – the proverbial “next man up” mentality – filling the slot of a graduated or NFL-bound former teammate. But the offensive line of the 2011-2012 team wasn’t just any offensive line.
Barrett Jones was Saban’s favorite, played three different positions (right guard, left tackle and center), was an All-American in 2011 and 2012, and won the top award at his last two positions – the Outland Trophy for best interior lineman in 2011 and the Rimington Trophy for best center in 2012. Jones was picked in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Chance Warmack was a unanimous All-American and was chosen 10th overall in the 2013 NFL Draft. D.J. Fluker was a first-team All-American and was picked 11th overall in the 2013 NFL Draft. They all won three national championships at Alabama.
An offensive line that could be considered one of the best in the history of college football – possibly the most decorated – isn’t easily replaced, but if any program could, it’s Nick Saban’s Alabama.