January 19, 2013 11:06:05 PM
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The University of Alabama on Saturday celebrated its third Bowl Championship Series National Championship in four years in front of thousands of crimson- and white-clad fans.
The day began with a parade down University Boulevard in Tuscaloosa that concluded at the walk of champions outside Bryant-Denny Stadium. Players, coaches and support staff walked through the plaza, which honors every national championship and SEC championship team in the Crimson Tide's illustrious history, up to a stage set up outside the stadium.
Coach Nick Saban addressed the crowd on the sunny day, along with Alabama President Judy Bonner, Director of Athletics Mal Moore, and BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock.
"(Saban) is the best coach in the United States," Moore said. "Thank God he's on our side."
A "2012" etching was unveiled at the base of Saban's statue Saturday, which already had inscriptions from his previous BCS championships won in 2009 and 2011 at the school.
Saban also won the 2003 BCS championship while coaching the LSU Tigers and is the only coach to win four BCS titles.
Permanent team captains Damion Square, Chance Warmack, and Barrett Jones also were recognized during the celebration.
"I've never been more proud of any group I've ever coached than the players and the coaches on this particular team," Saban said.
Radio broadcaster Eli Gold, who calls the football games on the Crimson Tide Sports Network, emceed ceremonies that ended with confetti, fireworks, and a highlight video of Alabama's 42-14 victory against the University of Notre Dame in the Jan. 7 championship game.
The game was replayed in its entirety on a video board outside the stadium as fans filed in before the festivities.
"When this year started, we knew this would be probably our most difficult challenge we've ever faced," Jones said. "In college football today, repeating is something that's really hard. But this team embraced the challenge full on and we were able to achieve that."
Several highly touted recruits, such as linebacker Reuben Foster and defensive tackle Montravius Adams, were in attendance.
Former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio also took in the festivities. His son, Luke, will attend Alabama in the fall as a preferred walk-on quarterback.