Last month I suggested that Republicans were standing on the ledge, the short-term outlook was worrisome and the long-term future bleak.

It’s funny, Republicans in Washington, D.C. remind me a lot of the University of Alabama football team. A once mighty football program that won the 1992 national championship  (and 12 national championships overall) in the same manner congressional Republicans stormed D.C. in 1994. Both carried a solid foundation based on hard work, great ideas, strong recruiting, and discipline.

Soon thereafter the football program lost focus and began believing their glowing headlines. With these factors in play, the team followed their 1992 championship by cheating (twice) and replacing five coaches. The NCAA penalties and overall instability decimated the team for 15 long years.

However, in 2007 everything changed. The right leadership was brought in to transform the losing culture that was fraught within the program. That man was Nick Saban - and he instilled in his team that success was based less on reputation, and more on hard work, focus, talent, and good character.

In many ways, this is exactly what is needed within the Republican Party - new blood and new leadership to move the party forward. Like the hiring of Nick Saban, I am encouraged with the new leadership in the House of Representatives – which includes Eric Cantor (Whip), Kevin McCarthy (Deputy Whip), and Mike Pence (Chairman of House Republican Conference).

In the senate, reformer John Thune is now Vice Chairman of the Republican Conference. I’m convinced these are the type of leaders that will reestablish our foundation and eventually carry the Republican Party to legislative and electoral success.

But we’re not done yet.

The next step is party chairman. While a laundry list of candidates are jockeying for the position, I’m encouraged to see the field led by Chip Saltsman, Michael Steele, Katon Dawson, Saul Anuzis and the latest entry of Ken Blackwell. All of these men want to take the party in a new direction.

Saltsman has written a detailed plan, which includes bringing updated technology and new media to the forefront of the party. Steele implores minority growth within the party – a monumental task that has never been more important for our future. Dawson has proposed a “Project 3141” plan – which means Republicans need to fight electorally in all 3,141 counties in the United States. Anuzis wants to focus on technology and transparency while Blackwell wants to remake the Republican Party as a whole - refocusing on our strengths of limited government, traditional values, strong defense, voter technology, targeting, and turnout.

Finally, there is current chairman, Mike Duncan. Although not a “change agent”, one has to be impressed with the three big Republican victories since November 4th and he deserves some credit for investing in those races.

So I’m encouraged that Republicans are putting leaders in place that will bring new ideas to the table, build upon our core strengths (of less government and sound ethics), and have a stronger focus on principle.

16 years ago the University of Alabama football team won the mythical national championship and then spent 15 years throwing it away. But they found their way again with Nick Saban – going 12-1 and heading for a New Year’s Day Bowl Championship Series game.

Strong leadership has a tendency to change the compass of organizations. If we are to get our party back, it will take leadership, a strong will and focus – not complacency and laziness. Let’s hope Republicans continue to move in the right direction.

Phillip Stutts is president of Phillip Stutts and Company. In 2004 Stutts served as the National 72 Hour/Get-Out-The-Vote Director for the Republican National Committee and President Bush’s reelection.