Everybody gives massive Alabama nose tackle Terrence Cody credit for saving the Crimson Tide’s undefeated season when he blocked two field goals in the fourth quarter of a 12-10 win against Tennessee.
Cody credits Leigh Tiffin, according to USA Today.
And why not? Tiffin, the Tide’s senior All-America placekicker, had all of Alabama’s points that day on field goals from 38, 50, 22 and 49 yards.
Tiffin has had a handful of days like that in his career, even a career-high five field goals against Mississippi this season, scoring 16 of Alabama’s 22 points.
But he has never had a signature, legend-making kick the likes of the 46-yarder Hunter Lawrence, his Texas counterpart in Thursday’s BCS title game, booted as time expired to give the Longhorns a 13-12 victory against Nebraska in the Big 12 championship game.
Heck, he hasn’t even made the most famous kick in his family.
That would belong to his father, Van Tiffin, an All-America kicker at Alabama in the mid-1980s who will forever live in Tide lore for his last-second 52-yard field goal that beat archrival Auburn 25-23 in 1985. Van is the son of Bob Tiffin, founder of Tiffin Motor Homes Inc., Red Bay, Ala.
Tiffin hopes for a similar experience Thursday night in the Rose Bowl. It’s not that he doesn’t want quarterback Greg McElroy and running back Mark Ingram to convert third downs. But there’s a part of him that roots for fourth down.
“I think you’re in a bad situation if you want the offense to convert every time,” Tiffin says. “If you don’t want to go out there, you’ve already lost.”
Alabama hasn’t lost this season, and Tiffin has rarely missed. He’s made 29 of 33 field goals. He’s Alabama’s career leader in field goals (82) and points (378). With two field goals against Texas, he could tie the Bowl Subdivision season record of 31. The FBS career record is 87.
Tiffin was a finalist for the Lou Groza Award for best placekicker, losing out to UCLA’s Kai Forbath, and he talked to Forbath recently about kicking in the Rose Bowl, UCLA’s home stadium.
“He says it’s a great place to kick,” Tiffin says.
If a long kick in the waning seconds is to determine the national title, Tiffin says he’s ready. He takes his mind-set from Nick Saban, Alabama’s famously focused coach.
“He talks about blocking out the clutter,” Tiffin says. “You can’t be worried about what some fan is going to say if you miss it.”
But he knows there are few fans like Alabama fans. They still idolize his father. They don’t forget heroes — or goats.
Tiffin has been more hero than goat, but few ‘Bama fans have forgotten his freshman meltdown in 2006, when he was subbing for injured kicker Jamie Christensen and, in a game against Arkansas, missed three field goals and an extra point in a 24-23 loss.
“That (stunk),” he says. “But that’s all a part of it.”
That game shook the freshman’s confidence. Three years later, he’s rock solid.
“Coach Saban says to approach my job like an assassin, and I like that analogy,” he says. “You might only get one chance. You might wait all game to get it.”