Friday, January 8, 2010

Q&A: Mark Ingram Postgame

Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram was selected as the BCS Championship’s Offensive MVP after his 116-yard, two-touchdown performance. He spoke with the media following the game.

Could you just talk about the emotions of accomplishing what you set out to accomplish? You win the National Championship, it's a perfect season, your names are engrained in at least the minds of National Championship fans forever. What does it mean, this accomplishment?

It's real special for our entire team and our entire organization. Since we lost to Utah last year, Coach said what do you want to be remembered as? Well, we had our mindset ongoing undefeated and winning the National Championship and winning the SEC Championship. Just the fact that we went out there and we worked every day and we had a common goal that we wanted to accomplish, it's real sweet that we're here and we took advantage of the opportunity. We're obviously proud and excited and can't wait to get to get back to Tuscaloosa and celebrate with the rest of Alabama and the rest of our team.

Could you expand on what Coach Saban was talking about, the two running back system, how you played off each other and always had that fresh pair of legs out there?

It's nothing but an advantage for our team to have two running backs, three, four running backs when they get in the game, as well, and you don't lose any production. Both of us can go out there and make plays, and we run together at night. We just both said we were going to go up for 100 yards. We said we needed to have a big game, we needed to have the team on our back tonight.

We just thrive off of each other, and even in practice. In the games when somebody is having big runs we thrive off each other in practice. When somebody is working hard and running sprints, we push each other and it helps us tremendously to elevate our games to different levels. It's going to be nothing but headaches for defense next year, next year or two.

Coach Saban talks a lot about process and about buying into his system he has over the past couple of years. Tell me, was there one particular moment for the players, the athletes, the team, a turning point when you knew it was going to work, when you really started to believe?

I remember our recruiting class, we were No. 1, and I was in what was kind of Coach Saban's first entire recruiting class, and we said we were going to win a National Championship our second year. It's kind of crazy that we actually did it.

But I remember after just seeing the seniors, like he said, buy into the program there, they had a 7-6 year before and we went 12-0, and kind of the turning point was when we lost to Florida and we lost to Utah. We weren't committed all the way, we were taking teams for granted and we didn't have the will not to be denied. We kind of took all his philosophies into perception, and this is where we are now. We had an undefeated season, and we're going to continue to try to have success.

Do you think that you've supplanted Florida as the power in the SEC?

Florida is a great team, and we're very grateful, and we worked hard all year, and that was our main goal was to beat Florida for the SEC Championship. They're a great team, and I think – I don't know. I don't know if we surpassed them, but we beat them, and we won the National Championship, so right now we're on top.

It's just a blessing, it truly is, and we worked hard for it. We shed blood, sweat and tears for this, and we're really excited right now?

What went through your mind when you saw Marcell, A) scoring the touchdown, and B) when you saw the first play when he knocked Colt McCoy out of the game?

Man, when he knocked Colt out of the game – I saw the hit, and I was like, ooh, I know that kind of hurt. But then somebody told me he was running off holding his shoulder. It was just real unfortunate for him because I got to know him as a person in New York and just know all the hard work he's put in to get to that point. It's really unfortunate that he didn't get to play in this game because I remember he was talking about it, about him having to watch the game from the sideline when he was a red shirt freshman. It was really unfortunate that he didn't get to play.

I just saw him keep moving the ball, keep trying to throw the ball, keep trying to run the ball. I was like they're going to do something, they're going to intercept the ball or do something. I saw everybody yelling and I saw Marcell taking off with the ball. He spun off somebody and then spun off another guy, threw the ball, got a 5 yard penalty, but it was all – I understand for him because D-tackles don't get in the end zone too much, so I was real proud of him. He made a big play, tremendous play that probably was the deciding factor in the game.

I didn't want to ask Coach about this because he doesn't like getting a lot of attention on himself. He is the first coach to win BCS title at two separate schools. Can you talk about what that says about him as a leader in every facet of the program?

He's just a coach that is driven, and he has a vision, and he tries to do his best to instill his characteristics in us. As you can see, like he was excited, but he was more excited for everybody else than he was more of himself. Just the things he can do to influence younger players is how he gets these national championship teams. He influences college athletes and high school athletes to buy into his system, and not only develop characteristics that' are going to help them in football but in life, as well.

I think that shows in the way he won the National Championship at LSU and turned our program around and helped us win the National Championship. He's just a great coach and he's real driven and he just tried to instill the characteristics that drive him in us, and we feed off of each other.

Mark, when you won the Heisman it was such an emotional moment for you. I'm just curious how you compared that moment with how you're feeling right now.

The Heisman was kind of shocking and something I never really expected coming into this year. And when I won the trophy, like, it was a great honor to win the trophy, but it was more than just a trophy to me. It was overcoming adversity. All throughout my life me and my family sticking together overcoming obstacles and people that tried to hold us back. A lot of emotion came from that.

This National Championship was more of everybody. I was so happy to leave my heart out there for the team, and blood, sweat and tears, we were out there running 110 sprints in 110-degree heat. We were like, ‘why are we doing this?’ Some days after practice you're like ‘why am I doing this’ or you get hurt and you're like ‘why am I doing this.’ Tonight was what it was all for, and just to know all the hard work paid off, it was more of just togetherness and a family and a feeling of all our brothers just being able to accomplish this together was real sweet for all of us. That's what the difference is.

Photo Courtesy of Alabama Athletic Media Relations