Since 2018 the perception of Alabama football has changed. Let’s consider how and why.
Going into the 2020 season, Alabama football has much to prove. After disappointments in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, a jump-start is needed. And one that ends in another National Championship run.
In a recent post about the coming season and LSU, a reminder was offered that staying at the top is harder than getting to the top. Except for the 2012 National Championship that has proven true for the Alabama Crimson Tide. Since the 1995 season there have been only two repeat National Champions. Southern Cal was stripped of its repeat. When the Crimson Tide did it in 2012, other titles soon followed in 2015 and 2017.
In January 2018, we wrote about what the Alabama Crimson Tide had become.
What does or does not qualify for dynastic status will long remain in contention. What should no longer be a subject of disagreement is college football’s ‘Greatest Dynasty.’ It belongs to Alabama football and Nick Saban.
Some may try, but no sound argument can refute our claim. Only one National Championship into the Tide’s Nick Saban era, Allen Barra, writing for ‘The Atlantic’ said,
the Crimson Tide has the greatest program in college football history
Barra made that statement the week of the Crimson Tide vs. LSU game the Tide would lose 9-6. The game’s outcome changed nothing, as was proven two months later in the 21-0 defeat of LSU in the 2011 National Championship game.
After the 2018 overtime victory, beating Georgia for another National Championship, the college football world could not ignore the reality. The Crimson Tide had accomplished the greatest Championship run in college football history.
Most Alabama football fans believe that run is not over. The Crimson Tide is expected to contend for another National Championship at the end of the 2020 season.
Winning the next one will be harder than the last three, for one reason. A big difference in 2020 is the nation’s elite programs no longer fear playing the Crimson Tide. Some of them appear to honestly relish it.
Many, not just Alabama football fans, scoffed at Ed Orgeron in 2017. After LSU lost to the Crimson Tide 24-10, Coach O faced questions in the visitor’s media room in Bryant-Denny. In response to a question about competing with the Tide, Orgeron said, “we comin and we ain’t backing down.” Alabama football fans had not forgotten Coach O’s comments a year later when the Tide shutout the Bengal Tigers, 29-0 in Baton Rouge. The Tide scoffing turned into full-throated derision.
The Bengal Tigers did not back down. Would they have won in Tuscaloosa in 2019, had Tua been healthy? Maybe not, probably not – any answer does not matter. What does matter is that top teams no longer fear battling the Crimson Tide. Not, LSU, not Clemson, not Georgia, not some others view the Crimson Tide with any degree of awe.
In a sense, elite players on elite teams have never feared the Crimson Tide. But teams also have a collective mindset. So many times, going back to 2009, opposing teams have known in advance or well before a game was over – they were going to lose.
Part of the reason is college football has changed. The physically dominating style of Crimson Tide teams in 2011 and 2012, has been supplanted by new offensive systems and speed. The Crimson Tide can win Championships in that new college football world. It just will not have the same fear factor it enjoyed in the past.
Some young coaches simply refuse to back down against the Crimson Tide. After the 2018 Oklahoma loss to the Crimson Tide in the CFBP semi-final, Lincoln Riley said “they outplayed us early … we completely outplayed them the rest of the way.” Lincoln must have misread the box score.