It was the best of dynasties. It was the worst of dynasties.

Analyze Alabama’s status after narrowly losing the national title game at your peril.  In the meantime, consider this:

On top of that, there is a huge climb for any SEC team to remotely challenge Bama right now. No team in the conference had less than four losses and no team other than Bama won 10 games. Bama can take a step back and still be two steps ahead of anyone in the conference. They are doing a pretty good impression of Florida State in the 1990s, with the rest of the SEC playing the part of the ACC minnows.

Within the conference, the question isn’t whether Alabama has slid a bit lately.  It’s whether it’s slid less than any other SEC school lately.  For the moment, it’s pretty obvious what the answer to that question is.

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54 Comments

Filed under Nick Saban Rules, SEC Football

54 responses to “It was the best of dynasties. It was the worst of dynasties.

  1. It really comes down to whether Florida, Georgia or LSU gets its collective s— together. Each program has the inherent advantages of Alabama. Florida and Georgia have better and deeper local talent bases to draw talent from. LSU typically doesn’t miss on its local blue chip players and has a fan base as rabid as the Tide’s. Whoever does will compete with the Tide for the throne. Here’s to hoping that Kirby is the one to do it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 92 grad

    Agreed Thomas. It’s pretty simple, Alabama can be beat and all it takes is playing good football. The fundamentals of the game equalize everyone. Bigger stronger faster helps but you still just have to play good football.

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    • “The fundamentals of the game equalize everyone.”

      That’s the thing about the Process. Saban takes these blue chip athletes and develops football players with great fundamentals. They play their role for the good of the team. You don’t typically see an Alabama player break down fundamentally. It happens, they correct it, or the kid is never heard from again.

      The Georgia-LSU game in 2004 is still the blueprint for beating a Saban coached team. Take advantage of matchups and hit them in the mouth.

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      • Rocketdawg

        A deadly accurate QB and two or three big tall receivers that can get open against man press coverage. Mike Williams was doing his best Reggie Brown/Fred Gibson impression on Monday night.

        A kick ass defensive line/front 7 doesn’t hurt either.

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        • Mike Williams won the game for Clemson IMO. He was the one guy, even more so than Watson, that they didn’t have an answer for.

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        • As Gary Danielson always says, “a great QB and WR duo can beat a Saban defense.” Ironically, the blue print has never changed. You have to have enough of a ground game to avoid perpetual 3rd and long, hit medium to long passes on the perimeter, and hold up against a Saban running game. For all his greatness, people forget that he is not known for being a great game day strategist or making great adjustments. The entire Saban doctrine is to minimize the risks that cause losing. To be clear, that is not to say that his teams “play not to lose”.

          One of those factors is NOT having a program that is QB dominated. If you are the clearly superior team and your QB has a bad day and (see UGA-UF in 2011/2012 as prime examples), you could lose a game that you should win. (we won both inspite of Aaron NOT because of him!). Yes, AJ was a legitimate passer. Yes, he has recruited other highly rated passing QB. Yes, he hired smart offensive coaches. yes he has had elite WRs. That said, he has never really allowed his offense to be led by a QB. McCarron bristled at the “Game Manager” moniker, but that is what Saban generally wants from a QB.

          What is crazy to think about is that he allowed Hurts be the QB that pushed him out of game manager mode. Hurts scrambling created tons of highlights and points, but it probably detracted from Bama’s overall offensive efficiency. Further, it covered up his passing deficiencies until they were too far down the path of being able to contemplate alternatives.

          That said, we have to build our program to be great in all phases of the game. When we do that, the relevancy of where we are relative to Bama increases. In the meantime, I assume they will continue to recruit well, perpetuate their culture, and win a lot of football games.

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          • For all his greatness, people forget that he is not known for being a great game day strategist or making great adjustments.

            As someone who sat through the entirety of the 2012 SECCG, I’m not sure I buy what you’re selling there.

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            • Cpark58

              Steve Spurrier is probably the greatest “game day coach” of all time and it won him a natty over his spectacular career, as many as a gene chiczik.

              Top flight recruiting, unhampered commitment to perfection from everyone involved, and Howard Hughes level attention to detail. That’s what makes Bama Bama. They do those things on every rep every day and the score usually takes care of itself on game days.

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            • Atticus

              How did he adjust in that game? UGA had about 70 players on scholarship and couldn’t get one defensive stop in the 2nd half. We had no depth they had a ton. That and a bomb to Cooper is all it took, not much strategy there.

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          • paul

            It seems to me Saban doesn’t often need to be a great game day strategist. He prefers to win the game on the recruiting trail, in the film room and on the practice field. Unlike the Old Ball Coach, who might just make up plays on the sideline.

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        • That’s exactly what we had in 2004 — a QB who was dropping dimes in press coverage to wide receivers that could win 1-on-1 matchups and a front 7 that absolutely stymied the LSU offense that day

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      • Or he’s de jure out of position, but de facto in the right place. sigh

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Cpark58

    The thing Alabama has going for it is that everyone from the president of the school to the bagmen to the sidewalk alumni working the parking garages have a common goal and are pulling in the same direction to get there.

    Until other schools have that solidarity, it’s a race for #2.

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    • Mayor

      UGA could have that kind of solidarity–if we only would just make the commitment to do it. But the suits at B-M and in the administration care more about $$ than they do about winning. We need to get rid of the people who have that mentality. But will that happen? No way. The love of money rules in Athens, GA. Until that changes………..

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  4. Macallanlover

    Hard to argue the gap between Bama and the rest of the SEC; they have continued to move forward and the rest have slipped away. I see us getting to Atlanta next year as, almost, a given but don’t see us competitive with either Bama or LSU. That may be our role for some time because we aren’t going to out-Bama Bama as long as Saban is there. Doesn’t mean we won’t, or can’t, beat him occasionally, but only LSU is geared up to compete with them on a regular basis, imo.

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    • Will

      Is no-one else seeing what is happening with our recruiting? We are pretty similar talent wise to Clemson today and are currently bringing in a class that would have been #1 many other years. (the 2013 debacle decimated this year’s senior class, but otherwise our roster is pretty comparable to Clemson) Clemson’s team had ~52% 4 and 5 star players, Richt averaged right at 55% for his tenure, this years class is sitting at 85% which is equal to or slightly better than Saban’s average at Bama (80%). I don’t see the gap as wide as this thread implies… maybe I am naive

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      • Clemson’s WR are light years better than ours. That’s not a shot at the current roster, it just is what it is.

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      • 1smartdude

        The only position we are close to being comparable to with Alabama is RB. You might say QB, as long as you’re not comparing moving around in the pocket or taking off downfield. Depth is light years different at almost every position. I’d say we’re three years away, just from depth alone and that’s provided we continue to get classes like the 2017 class. If not, we’ll start going backwards again. That’s simply what’s it’s come down to with what Saban has been able to build every single year. You’re either catching up or going backwards because of the consistency of what Alabama is doing. Clemson beat Alabama not only because of the formula of a dynamic QB and WR’s, they’ve also had great recruiting classes. Not as good as Bama though, which is why you’ll see Clemson take a step backwards this year. FSU probably replaces them pretty easily. On the other hand, Bama starts the year ranked #1 again. While the Clemson win gives hope of breaking the stranglehold, it’s just not going to be that quick and easy.

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      • Macallanlover

        Anyone with any interest can see what you are seeing, a very good class, with the potential to close that gap. But they not only aren’t signed yet, haven’t played a single down, and sometimes don’t develop as they are projected. Maybe I am just cautiously optimistic, not willing to put my all faith into just the opinions of the “gurus” of how an 18 year old will be in 3-4 years. Great looking class, but how do we develop them, how do they mature, and will the scheme allow them to realize their potential? This isn’t a game of individuals, it is how they jell together that will determine their success. One class, add 2-3 more to it, mix, stir and then see what we have. There is a gap, we may be closing it…let’s hope.

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  5. Spike

    It’s gotta end some time, doesn’t it?

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    • Macallanlover

      True, perhaps a couple of years after Saban leaves. The head start they have is substantial, they will be in a favored position until something drops them back a few notches.

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      • Sherlock

        a couple of years after Saban leaves.
        Dabo will be there. If he can do what he is doing at Clemson, I imagine he will be find at Alabama.

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        • Atticus

          Not happening. They will build statues of him at Clemson if he continues this run. Nobody follows a legend that wins 5 titles and succeeds. It will only be a matter of time. Now maybe if Saban leaves, they hire someone else, he fails and THEN they bring in Dabo I could see that. But he loves it at Clemson and its his program, that wouldn’t be the case at Bama.

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          • Sherlock

            Bear Bryant loved in College Station, but “Momma called. And when Momma calls, you just have to come runnin’.”

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          • 1smartdude

            Dabo is already there in his mind. Does anyone really believe he wouldn’t jump all over the Alabama job?

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            • Mayor

              If he did it would be a mistake. He is a legend at Clemson but he can never equal or surpass Saban or the Bear in T-town. If Dabo moved to Bama if he didn’t win a nattie almost immediately half the fanbase would want to fire him. Remember Bill Curry? He went 10-2 and people put for sale signs in his front yard.

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        • mp

          Who would choose to immediately succeed Saban? Better to get the job after Saban’s successor is shown the door in year 3 Dabo would be smart to wait it out.

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  6. Otto

    I would not read all that much into 1 year. The SEC dominated bowl season just a year ago. Bama’s season was as close to a rebuilding year as Bama has had in a long time Freshman QB and coaching turnover.

    A&M and Auburn were both have good seasons until QBs couldn’t play.

    Remember the media is as quick to say the SEC down as they are to say the Big10 is back.

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    • Uglydawg

      This is true, Otto. And as tired as I am of seeing Alabama dominate the conference, I find solace in the espnites misery that despite all of their talking and chaff, the Big 10 can’t be hyped into competing. They will talk their heads off again next year, but in the end, not much will change. That’s the silver lining.

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      • Otto

        Further, don’t be quick to point to the SEC being down or that Bama has beat the West into mediocrity. I pointed to A&M and Auburn with QBs getting injured, Ole Miss also had turnover. It was a perfect storm but I will hold off a season or 2 before making sweeping statement. The West had a down bowl season in ’14 turned around in ’15 to dominate, and the SEC is a game below .500 in ’16

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  7. JCDAWG83

    I’m not sure I’d say winning 14 in a row with a true freshman qb and a defensive line lacking Bama’s traditional depth due to injuries and the previous Spring’s NFL draft and losing the championship game on a last second touchdown catch made possible by a blatant illegal pick play constitutes a “slide”. The Senator posted an article not long ago that pointed out how young of a team Bama has this year.

    As Mark Twain said “…reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated”, those proclaiming Bama’s fall from greatness may be speaking a little prematurely.

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  8. Uglydawg

    This is one of the best discussions I’ve seen on GTP. Lot’s of good insights given by everyone. There doesn’t seem to be a flaw in ‘Bama’s slaw. But you never know what might happen. If the Baylor bunch comes to Auburn, they could actually challenge Bama in the Iron Bowl. Lose that a couple of times straight and the Bama fans will show up with torches and pitchforks.
    Most Alabama fans I know are nice people and are considering sparing Clemson’s oak trees, but many of them can’t even admit they lost to a slightly better Clemson team. They are livid that things actually didn’t go their way. It “rubs” them the wrong way. (BD excluded..class act, that guy)
    Sooner or later, there will be that perfect storm that levels things somewhat. Until that day, we’ll just acknowledge the obvious..they’re in a class by themselves, save Clemson..and a Watsonless Clemson is going to be a diminished Clemson.

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    • JCDAWG83

      Clemson after Watson will be Clemson before Watson, a good team that will go 9-3/10-2 and battle FSU for the ACC. The ACC is pretty much a mirror of the SEC except there are two legit teams in the ACC.

      Watson was a once a generation player. His presence changed the program while he was there. Bama is a constant in that the “process” works without really relying on a superstar player. Top recruiting classes don’t hurt either.

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      • Will

        ACC was hands down a better conference this year.

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        • JCDAWG83

          Top 3 in the ACC, Clemson, FSU and Louisville were better than all but Bama in the SEC but the rest of both conferences were pretty equal and equally weak. If Ole Miss hadn’t lost Kelley, they would have had a much better record, they were a good team to start the season but they had no real depth.

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          • hooper

            As my brother likes to point out often the last few weeks, the NATS were 3 and 0 against the SEC east. That by itself says a great deal about the SEC this year.

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  9. AthensHomerDawg

    Coach Richt is gone one year and only one team can win 10 or more games? Wonder if Miami can get into the top 20 preseason?

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  10. Good luck out Bama’ing Bama. They have it down to a fine art. Plus, bag men extrodanaire.

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  11. Oh yeah and someone’s ego will get the best of them and replace Saban. Like following Wooden. No way to win.

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