Just A Minute: Alabama Being Rewarded by Players Making the Right Decisions

The Crimson Tide's basketball and football titles can trace their success back to some decisions that had huge impacts on the programs and and seasons
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Alabama hasn't enjoyed seeing the football team and basketball program both capture Southeastern Conference titles during the same academic year since 1975-76.

That's a long time to wait, but also reflective of just how hard it is to pull this double-double off. 

The Crimson Tide men's basketball team hadn't won the regular-season championship since 2002, and hasn't captured the league tournament title since 1991. 

It'll head to Nashville as the top seed next week, but as we've indicated before Alabama won't be the favorite. 

There are still a lot of parallels that exist between the two programs, starting with good coaching, and both teams being led by its seniors. However, a strong one that shouldn't be overlooked is players making good decisions about their futures. 

As our own Joey Blackwell pointed out in his story Senior Trio Responsible for Alabama Basketball's Dramatic Shift in Culture, John Petty Jr., Herb Jones and Alex Reese will all be remembered years from now as the crucial keys in the rejuvenation of Crimson Tide basketball. 

They all made the crucial decision to come back to Alabama when the coaching change was made and Nate Oats hired two years ago. 

This isn't to suggest that players should always come back, or that those who left didn't make the right choices for themselves. It also would be fun to imagine what this team might have done with Kira Lewis Jr. still on the roster, but he was a solid first-round draft pick and is now playing in the NBA. 

Something similarly happened in football this past season, and at Nick Saban's encouragement.

Players like Tua Tagovailoa, Henry Ruggs III, Jerry Jeudy and Jedrick Wills Jr. left early for the NFL after the 2020 season and understandably so. They were all top 15 draft picks. But DeVonta Smith, Najee Harris and Alex Leatherwood all stayed and helped key Alabama's remarkable season. 

Smith won the Heisman Trophy, Harris has improved his draft stock and other players were able to step up, like Mac Jones, who very easily could have left a year ago.  

Fittingly, maybe his best quality as a quarterback is his decision-making.