Commentary by Lt. Col. Jay Fulmer
50th Operations Support Squadron commander
I have a confession to make; this is my favorite season of the year. Now, I am sure many of you are thinking I am talking about fall. After all, most of us are eager to put this hot and dry summer in our rearview mirror and enjoy more comfortable daytime temperatures with just enough of a chill at night to warrant the use of a fire pit.
Of course, the arrival of October does mean Halloween is just around the corner. I am sure most parents can relate to the entertainment I get watching my children seriously deliberate what the right costume is to wear while “trick-or-treating.” However, the season I am talking about has nothing to do with the weather or which feisty fairy my daughter wants to be. I am talking about football season. Especially, Alabama “Crimson Tide” Football. It just so happens that this year’s football season coincides with the 50th Space Wing’s compliance inspection. This offers a unique opportunity to tie together my passion for Alabama football to our current inspection ramp up and I’m not going to pass it up.
Those of you who have had the pleasure of spending time around the great state of Alabama know about the Crimson Tide’s dominant football history. If you have not, allow me to list a few accomplishments: most national championships (13), most SEC championships (22) and most bowl wins (34). We have also been home to some of the greatest field generals the game has ever known, with the names of Bear Bryant, Gene Stallings and now Nick Saban hallowing the grounds of Bryant-Denny stadium. All-time greats, such as Joe Namath, Kenny Stabler, Jay Barker, Shawn Alexander, Mark Ingram, Julio Jones and Trent Richardson, have all donned crimson and white.
Likewise, the 50 SW dominates as a team on a daily basis, providing command and control to more than 150 satellites, executing an annual budget of more than $223.6 million, and deploying warfighters to locations around the world. We too have accomplishments that rival the most impressive of trophy cases: multiple General Herres awards, multiple General Moorman awards and the 2011 Omaha trophy, just to name a few.
For all its history and accomplishments, Alabama is just the same as any other football team. Players will block, tackle and execute the fundamentals they have been perfecting since grade school. What separates the greats from the rest is their ability to execute as a cohesive unit. There was no better example of this than the 2011 season. I can already hear the Louisiana State University fans disagreeing with me, but if you look at the stats, the Nov. 5 LSU-Bama game was dominated by the individual performances of Alabama players. Alabama players led LSU in passing, receiving and rushing categories. The funny thing is…Bama didn’t win the game. LSU prevailed 9-6 in a defensive struggle that went into overtime. I’ll let you in on a little secret as to why LSU won this game. When the game is close and the pressure is on, individual players do not tip the scale to a “W,” teams do. We beat ourselves when Bama didn’t play as a cohesive unit. Fortunately, we had another opportunity that season to face LSU in the national championship and this time, Nick Saban’s squad came ready to work as a team and those results are in the history books.
While the IG may note our many accomplishments and find us in the middle of a great season, none of that will matter. Just like the Nov. 5, 2011, game between two Southeastern Conference rivals was a snapshot of their seasons, the week of the inspection will be a snapshot in time of our performance as a wing. How that picture turns out will depend on our preparedness to execute as a team. Alabama had a short turn around after their loss to redeem themselves; we will not have that luxury. We recognize and remember great victories and leaders on the playing field and battlefield alike. However, in sports as in the military, the sum is always greater than parts, with no crowning achievement resting solely on the shoulders of any one individual. There is no doubt that together as a team, we can come away with an outstanding rating.