Alabama lost for the second time in the regular season for just the second time since 2010 (2019 being the other). On the flip side, the defending National Champions, Georgia Bulldogs, walloped Tennessee at home to establish themselves firmly on top of the College Football world once again. Naturally, the talk is about the passing of the baton from Saban to the man who once used to be his understudy, Kirby Smart. There is undeniably some of that going on, but the notion that Alabama won’t still be at or near the top of the college football world moving forward is a gross over-exaggeration.
Let’s begin with what went wrong with this year’s version of the Crimson Tide. Despite all the hype coming into the season, this team had holes all over. Defensively, their secondary is far from where they have been in the past. On offense, this is the worst receiving core we’ve seen since Saban took over, and the line has been inconsistent all season. Outside of Bryce Young, who has been spectacular again this year, this team left a lot to be desired when talking about College Football Playoff contenders.
With that being said, Alabama is still a couple of breaks going their way from being undefeated. I would argue the refs played a significant role in the Tide’s first loss of the season to Tennessee, and while LSU outplayed Bama for most of the game, it still took a two-point conversion on the last play in one of the craziest environments in college football to dethrone the Crimson Tide.
Frankly, I’m not sure how many times we have to claim the Alabama dynasty is dead before learning this lesson — never count out Nick Saban. This is the first time since 2010 that the Crimson Tide won’t be in the National Championship conversation. They have been at the pinnacle of the sport for well over a decade, despite analysts around the country counting them dead at least three different times.
Does the current state of Alabama football need fixing? Absolutely. They could use some fresh, energized blood on their coaching staff to re-establish the culture of the program. Are the programs around Alabama catching up? Without a doubt. Kirby Smart has brought Nick Saban’s formula to Georgia seamlessly. Tennessee is on the rise, and LSU is as well with Brian Kelly at the helm. Alabama will likely never dominate quite like they once did because of it.
However, if you don’t think Nick Saban — the greatest college football coach to ever grace the earth — can figure out what’s going wrong at Alabama, you haven’t been paying attention to what’s gone on over the last 15 years. Alabama will be back stronger than ever, and I don’t think it will take much time for it to happen.
Photo: John Korduner/Icon Sportswire