By MIKE HERNDON
Here we go again.
Have we gotten to the point where every time Alabama loses a game, people will be lining up to declare the dynasty dead? Apparently.
No, you’re right: Monday’s 44-16 beatdown by Clemson was no ordinary loss. It’s the first time a Nick Saban-coached Alabama team has lost by more than 14 points. Ever. And though there have been other losses where the Tide seemed less prepared or less hungry than their opponents – particularly Sugar Bowl losses to Utah and Oklahoma after the 2008 and 2013 seasons – the fourth quarter of Monday night’s game is the first time I felt like I saw another team completely break Alabama’s will.
It’s still difficult to believe the Crimson Tide didn’t mount some sort of comeback. Because they always have.
This loss also came in a national championship game, obviously, and only once before had a Saban-coached Alabama team gotten to the final game and lost. That came on the last play two years ago – a play that many Crimson Tide fans still believe was an illegal pick, but whatevs.
Since that loss also came against Clemson, which is 55-4 with two national championships in the last four years just like Alabama, Monday night had the feel of a changing of the guard.
So it’s perhaps unsurprising that, as it grew apparent in the second half that the game was out of reach, The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach tweeted a message she’d gotten from a “P5 coordinator” musing that it was the “beginning of the end of the dynasty.” Numerous would-be Twitter prophets echoed the mantra.
Have we learned nothing?
Joel Klatt and Colin Cowherd led a chorus in 2015 proclaiming the dynasty dead after a couple of losses to Ole Miss. The Tide’s won two national titles since then and Ole Miss got put on probation.
To Klatt’s credit, he did dismiss the idea that Bama is headed downhill this time around and said Alabama and Clemson are the class of college football and likely to be playing for it all again next year. Not a particularly hot take, but still noteworthy coming from the mouth of a notorious SEC basher.
And then, of course, he and Cowherd proceeded to bash the SEC over its bowl record, as though the best measure of conference strength were a bunch of games for fifth place.
Look, I get it: If pundits keep predicting Alabama’s demise, sooner or later they’ll be right. And they all want to be the sage whose prophecy came true.
But if I really care about trying to be right, and not just throwing out random predictions and hoping one sticks, I’d say the level of excellence that’s come to be known as the Alabama dynasty won’t be over until Nick Saban leaves or retires. And despite a rash of rumors about jobs in Texas, the NFL and elsewhere pretty much anytime they come open, the likeliest scenario is that he’ll remain at Alabama until he decides to head off to the lake for good.
Saban will have another large turnover of assistants, and he’ll probably lean toward Xs and Os guys over recruiters this time. Alabama will bring in another top recruiting class again anyway and the Tide will reload for another run with the best quarterback Saban’s ever had and a ton of NFL talent.
And Clemson will be there waiting for them.
The Tide’s dynasty isn’t over. They’re just having to share it now. The Tide and Tigers are college football’s version of the ’80s Lakers and Celtics — and that sure was fun, unless you were a Knicks fan.
(Photo by Carol M. Highsmith/Wikimedia Commons)
Categories: College football