Alabama Football: Two views on tonight’s outcome, both warrant reflection

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 12: The Ohio State Buckeyes kick off to the Oregon Ducks during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at AT
ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 12: The Ohio State Buckeyes kick off to the Oregon Ducks during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at AT /

Hours from now, Alabama football will earn its 17th National Championship or fail to do so. Either result warrants reflection of the Crimson Tide, past, and future.

Joy and despair await for Alabama football fans. One will be embraced. The other shunned, avoided, discarded. Less than a few hours beyond either outcome, Nick Saban will be moving forward, preparing for what comes next.

Few Alabama football fans will mirror Nick’s transition pace. If the result is a 17th National Championship, we will celebrate for days, even weeks. A loss will linger even longer, at least to the first kickoff of the 2018 season, but more realistically, it will haunt most of us forever.

Here are a few suggestions for Alabama football fans to consider in each outcome.

First, the easy part

No. 17 is not just another national championship. It marks even more historical milestones for the University of Alabama and Nick Saban. Five national championships in nine seasons is a first in the college football poll-era.

Dynasties defined before the BCS and College Football Playoff create considerable debate. Too many seasons without consensus national champions cloud dynasty claims. Before the poll-era, the process of naming a national champion was too often suspect. Alabama football fans will be fully entitled to claiming the Tide-Saban Dynasty as college football’s greatest. That not everyone will agree does not matter.

Minnesota was national champion five times in eight seasons from 1934-1941, but the poll-era did not begin until 1936. Alabama football fans know the Crimson Tide won six national championships under Bear Bryant but the span was 19 seasons.

The 2017 national championship gives Nick Saban six, tying him with Bryant. Nick’s six came in a 15 season span. The achievement arguably makes Saban the greatest college coach of all-time. What cannot be argued is that he is the greatest coach of his era.

The hard part of reflection

Alabama football fans did not need Scott Cochran to decide coming in second does not warrant trophies. The Crimson Tide football program defines itself by national championships. It is both an unfair and unrealistic measurement but it will not and should not change.

To understand what a defeat means, start with what it does not mean. It is the end of the 2017 season but not the end of anything else. Before most of us wake on January 9th, Nick Saban will be planning and building a return for another championship opportunity.

Bear Bryant built a dynasty in the 1960’s that crumbled in two 6-5 seasons in 1969 and 1970. Then he built another one in the 1970’s. Time must pass before the end of dynasty runs can be defined. What happens for the next five or so seasons will define if this Tide-Saban Dynasty ended Monday night.

While we cope with our disappointment, there is much to remember and to celebrate. Over the last decade, Alabama football has won 124 games (89 percent of its games), four national championships, five SEC championships and been selected for every College Football Playoff. No one else has come close to that level of success.

Next: 50 Greatest Alabama Football Players of All-Time

The 2017 season is not the end of anything, other than the college careers of some fine young men. We can’t wait until next season.