Alabama Football: What’s next for Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

Questions abound as Alabama football copes with the painful reality of not being a championship contender. What’s next for Saban and the Tide?

For a second straight season, Alabama football must move on from shattered championship dreams. It is different this time. As unrealistic as it was, there was confidence the Crimson Tide would always find a way to make the CFB Playoff field.

Now the program and its fans must contend with the reality of a post-season game, some players and many fans may not embrace. But Alabama football has bigger problems than lost enthusiasm.

Alabama football no longer elicits fear in the minds of top opponents. Under Nick Saban, Alabama football has been known for physical and mental toughness. It has been a team that rarely beats itself. It has been a team whose actions mirrored Saban’s two-word creed – discipline and accountability.

Those attributes are still held and practiced by many in the Alabama football program. But, it is clear there has been slippage. National pundits are quick to pounce on any Crimson Tide failure. But, Pat Forde was neither wrong or unfair when saying,

"Alabama has slipped. And it may not get back up anytime soon… The dynasty may or may not be dead. But the era of dominance certainly appears to be over."

No one knows how and when the Crimson Tide will “get back up.” We do know Nick Saban started seeing problems last season, well before the thumping administered by Clemson. The slide continued in 2019. So much so, it is fair to ask how much of Saban’s football DNA has been absorbed by the roster. All that is known is what is seen on the field and Saban’s comments about young players not understanding what he calls the ‘Alabama factor.’

There are other reasons for an ebbing Tide. The Crimson Tide lost its best players on both sides of the ball. With a healthy Tua and Dylan Moses, the 2019 team would be Playoff bound. Recruiting misses and transfers are part of the problem. There is considerable debate over the current coaching staff being seriously deficient. In contrast, a revolving door of assistants has also hampered the Tide for the last two seasons.

Calls for change will be loud. None will be more demanding than those made by Nick Saban. He is a warrior defined by not backing down from anything, including the pursuit of perfection.

On Saturday night, Nick Saban stated the players and coaching staff, included himself, are “very, very disappointed.” His explanation for the loss reiterated his core beliefs.

"I think the lesson to be learned here today is some of the things that I talked about — how important it is to be a disciplined team, How important it is to be accountable and people do their job. Everybody’s got to make decisions that are going to enhance the team’s chance of being successful."

In two key games this season, Alabama football failed to consistently achieve those foundational standards.

Next. What to make of the Iron Bowl. dark

Alabama football in 2020 will be a very different team than it has been in 2019. The every year, exodus to the NFL will change the roster dramatically. So will new talent. What else changes depends on Nick Saban. Doubting him is not advised.