Alabama Football: Tide Had Great Season Despite Disappointing Finish


Another trip to the Sugar Bowl brought more heartbreak for the Alabama football team. In a national semifinal game in the first College Football Playoff, the Crimson Tide were once again shocked in the Superdome.

It is a frustrating trend for a program that had built one of the greatest dynasties in college football history over the past seven years. Alabama is 34-3 against non-conference foes since 2008, with all three losses coming in the Sugar Bowl game. Every time you think it’s going to be different, it gets worse. But that doesn’t change what this team accomplished this year, and it certainly doesn’t turn this season into a failure.

The story of the 2014 season will be more about grit, toughness, togetherness, and pride than the dominance that shaped many of Nick Saban’s previous teams, including his three teams that won national championships. The story of this team will include the story of a quarterback and his offensive coordinator, who proved many wrong time and time again throughout 2014.

To say Blake Sims was fantastic for Alabama this past season would be an understatement. Sims had one of the greatest seasons of any quarterback in school history. He finished the season with 28 touchdown passes, tied for second all time in school history, and his 3,487 yards was the most in school history. He did it completing nearly 65 percent of his passes, while also running for 350 yards and seven touchdowns.

Sims couldn’t have done it without Lane Kiffin, the offensive coordinator who had come from three much-maligned head coaching stints with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders, Tennessee, and USC respectively. Just like Sims, many doubted Kiffin’s ability to lead the Crimson Tide offense. Just like Sims, those people couldn’t  have been more wrong.

Kiffin consistently put Sims and the Alabama offense in position to score and got the most out of their abilities. He turned Alabama into one of the more dynamic offenses in the country, and for the most part called very good games. While the Sugar Bowl wasn’t the best day for either of them, it doesn’t overshadow what a prolific duo they were throughout the season.

This team as a whole had more weaknesses than most of Saban’s teams, and watching them overcome those to win games in thrilling fashion made this team uniquely special. This team didn’t win a national championship, but they won the SEC championship and the Iron Bowl. As much as Alabama fans would love to win the national championship every year, when you win the SEC, win the Iron Bowl, and make the four-team playoff than you have had a successful season.

If you had told the fan base after the loss to Ole Miss on October 3 and the sloppy performance against Arkansas the following week that the Crimson Tide would have ended up in the first four-team playoff as SEC champions, I would have inquired about your interest in all of the beach property I own in Florida.

But Saban stayed positive, the team stayed the course, and they eventually grew into champions, and even though they didn’t win the national championship, what they did reflected everything positive and everything great about Nick Saban’s process. Watching him in the postgame and throughout the season you could tell how much Saban appreciated that.

Alabama fans don’t historically remember teams that finish short of the national championship as fondly as those that won the big game, but hopefully this team isn’t forgotten and their accomplishments are appreciated for years to come.