For Landon Dickerson, No. 1 Alabama’s 52-24 win over No. 3 Ohio State for the CFP national championship was all about brotherhood.
The Alabama center, three weeks removed from season-ending knee surgery, simply wanted to finish what he started.
If it weren’t for his persistence and a late Brian Robinson third-down run, he wouldn’t have had that chance.
In an interview with “3 Man Front” on WJOX in Birmingham, Dickerson said he “butted heads with the medical staff, packed for the national title game before asking Nick Saban if he could and pleaded to get into the game before the final seconds ticked off the clock.
“It wasn’t about me,” he said. “It was about being out with the team one more time. I’ll admit it was a little selfish on my end because I did want to be out there dressed up, going through pregame warmups, talking with my guys one last time. This was a special team. Just being able to be a part of that and be around those guys for that moment and that game — it’s almost like a Disney movie. It’s one of those things I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Dickerson was carted off the field during the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 19. So, it took many on social media by surprise when he was on the field prior to the start of the CFP title game in full gear.
“The day after I had ACL surgery, I gave my crutches back,” he said. I had butted heads with the medical staff. “Dr. (Lyle) Cain and Jeff Allen, I told them going into the Rose Bowl, ‘You know I can play.’ And, of course, they never believed me.
During practices leading up to the win over Notre Dame and the CFP title game with Ohio State, Dickerson went to practice. He worked on quarterback-center exchanges and did some running. “Obviously, that freaked them out.”
Like his teammates, he packed his travel bag for Miami.
“The day before the game, I went to coach Saban and I asked him if I could dress for the game. I knew I already had my stuff down there. He said he didn’t have any issues with me dressing.
“As soon as I got through that hurdle, I was like since I’m dressed I might as well as go out and do pregame warmups and snap with quarterbacks and run around a little bit and now see how far I can go until Dr. Cain blows his head off with frustration.”
During the game, Dickerson continued to probe Kane for a way into the game.
“He told me if we’re up however many scores – I think he said something unrealistic like four touchdowns – I’ll let you go in. I think in his mind that would never happen.”
With about four minutes left in the game, Dickerson was still making his case since Alabama “was just running the ball. He didn’t go for that either, but finally relented to let him play if the Tide went into victory formation. Dickerson said Cain would ask Saban.
It almost didn’t happen. The Tide was facing a third and 9 at its 42 with 1:30 left. Surely, the Tide would have to punt, but Robinson took off on a 12-yard gain to the Ohio State 45. The Tide had a fresh set of downs.
“B-Rob ran, and, damn, I got excited and I jumped the gun,” Dickerson said. I ran up to coach and didn’t even ask. I said, ‘Hey, coach, I’m going in to take these final snaps.’ He said, ‘Aight, go ahead.’”
Mark Heim is a sports reporter for The Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Mark_Heim.