Relaxed McCarron moves past Iron Bowl

This season, Alabama QB AJ McCarron was at his best while playing the best. ESPN Stats & Information

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- As AJ McCarron sat and answered questions about his Heisman Trophy candidacy this week, there was a sense of calm in his voice. He smiled, leaned back and relaxed as he laid his case bare.

It was strange. He wasn't agitated to be there. He wasn't itching to leave. A senior who has built a reputation as being gruff with the media, McCarron seemed genuinely happy and almost giddy to be talking about his upcoming trip to New York City for the award ceremony.

McCarron said he never would have traveled to New York unless he was nominated for the Heisman Trophy or invited to attend the NFL draft. Now one of those two dreams is about to become a reality.

"I just can't wait," he said. "I'm really looking forward to it, and being able just to see everything and going through the process is just a dream come true. It's going to be cool."

There was no talk of the Iron Bowl and Alabama's crushing defeat at the hands of Auburn. It has been less than two weeks since that game knocked McCarron and the Tide out of the championship picture, but it seemed like a distant memory as he spoke comfortably about what's next.

And true to his word, McCarron -- who said after the loss that football is just a game, it's not life -- seems to have moved on from the game.

"You've got to move on, live life and be happy," he said. "Because life's way too short to sit back and think about what you should have done and be mad about it."

Recently, McCarron has found time away from football. He has continued to work out and run with the team, but he hasn't thrown a football since the end of the regular season. Instead, he's letting some of the younger guys take reps during practice.

"My old self is taking a break for a minute," he said.

Last Saturday, McCarron turned off the SEC championship game at halftime so he could go Christmas shopping with his girlfriend, Katherine Webb. This week, he and his family are making the rounds at various awards shows and ceremonies.

He was in Orlando on Thursday for the Home Depot College Football Awards Show. He will be presented with the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award in Baltimore on Friday. And he'll wrap up the tour in New York City for the Heisman Trophy presentation on Saturday night.

McCarron never has been one for awards and individual recognition, but his teammates believe he's more than deserving of college football's most prestigious honor.

"For a quarterback to come in, [run] Alabama's system under Nick Saban and go out and do the things he's done, help this team win two national championships -- he has less interceptions than anybody -- but for him not to get the recognition he needs, it's ridiculous," said Tide wideout Kevin Norwood.

His résumé is pretty impressive. During three years as Alabama's starting quarterback, McCarron has led the Tide to two national championships and a record of 36-3. As a senior, he has thrown for 2,676 yards, 26 touchdowns and just five interceptions, and he played his best games against the likes of Texas A&M, LSU and Auburn.

"If you look at my play over three years, I feel like no quarterback in the SEC or the country has played as consistent as I have," McCarron said in a rare moment of self-reflection. "I think the numbers do the talking. When you look at my stats against top-10-ranked teams, I don't think anybody's stats compare to mine.

"I just let my stats and play do the talking and sit by the side, I guess."