It wasn't pretty, but AJ McCarron wasn't worried. The fifth-year senior had been through his fair share of spring scrimmages, and a lackluster A-Day wasn't going to put him in knots. Not even six total interceptions, two of which he was responsible for, struck a nerve in the confident starting quarterback of the Alabama Crimson Tide. What level of concern did he have? "None," he said flatly, leaving the reporter's question hanging in the air without a second thought. McCarron has good reason to be confident. He led the country in passing efficiency on his way to earning a third national championship last season. He passed for nearly 3,000 yards and threw a career-high 30 touchdowns. He thought about forgoing his senior year to enter the NFL draft but decided better of it. There was a legacy to be won at Alabama, one absent any footnote of a meaningless spring game. "When you've played this game so long, and you win every year, you start to lose a little fire," he said days earlier. "Michael Jordan said it best: It's not the first one that's the hardest to win; it's every one after that. So what's your purpose, really? Why are you coming out every day? "Everybody has a time and an era in college football. USC went through it, Florida went through it. Miami went through it for all those years. Our biggest thing to me is, 'Why does your time and era have to end?' " It might not have to, at least not this season. McCarron, who completed 19 of 30 passes for 223 yards on Saturday, has all the weapons on offense to lead Alabama back to the promised land this coming season. But what happens when he leaves a year from now? Will the dynasty continue when No. 10 isn't under center any longer? It's something coach Nick Saban has considered. As early as signing day, he said he was looking for his next starting quarterback. If he could find McCarron's successor now, he could avoid a quarterback controversy later. "It's critical that some player that we have either in the organization or that we just recruited can develop into a potential starter for when AJ graduates," he said on Feb. 6, acknowledging the three freshman quarterbacks he'd welcomed to campus less than a month earlier. "AJ has done a great job here for us. He provides good leadership and I'm sure he'll help with the development of these guys by the way he prepares, how he practices."
After AJ, a dynasty at stake
ESPN | May 3