From putting McCarron on the scout team as a freshman to publicly spanking him, Saban has pushed McCarron in every way possible.
“He’s always responded the right way because we brought him up the hard way,” Saban said. “We kind of brought him up the way my dad brought me up. I expected him to do things the right way and I had a high standard for him. Whether it was slapping him on the behind on ESPN or whatever we’ve had to live through, we did it. He always responded to it the right way.”
And McCarron’s mom, Dee Dee Bonner, appreciates all of the tough love. Even the butt slap. Bonner said the incident was “nothing more than a parent getting onto their kid like they’re suppose to.” Bonner said it was Saban’s honesty that made her comfortable with letting her son grow up under his direction.
“AJ will tell you coach Saban is like a second dad to him. We’re thankful for that. His father is also appreciative of that,” Bonner said. “Some people think that we should be jealous or concerned, but we’re not. I wouldn’t want my kids anywhere else if they didn’t feel could come to a coach and talk to them if they had an issue or a concern whether it be in the classroom or their personal life or whatever. Knowing that AJ has that connection is a breath of fresh air.”
McCarron has been stellar on the field. His 35 career wins equal Jay Barker’s school record, which he’ll break on Senior Day when the Tide welcomes Chattanooga to Bryant-Denny Stadium.
McCarron already owns school records for career passing yards (8,184), touchdowns (70) and consecutive passes without an interception (291).
But how does McCarron want to be remembered?
“Just as a guy that did the right things,” McCarron said. “I don’t care about stats and all that. I feel like people get caught up in stats and worried about that and not worried about winning, and winning at the end of the day is what you want to do, which doesn’t bother me one bit. … I just want to win and do the right things for my teammates, and hopefully people will remember that.”
While McCarron will go down as the most successful quarterback in Alabama history, an emotional Bonner said all of the accolades won’t be what she remembers about her son’s career.
“Just his relationships and to know that he has formed life-long bonds with teammates and coaches,” she said. “To see the love he has for his teammates, coaches and the school has been such a blessing and I’ll remember that.”