Alabama football: Why repeating as champions is so hard

[Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]Championship Merchandise
[Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]Championship Merchandise /

Why does Alabama football rarely repeat as national champions?

No one can argue that Alabama football is the greatest program in the history of college football, and Nick Saban is a big reason why. With so many titles and records, no one will top the Tide anytime soon.

Still, Alabama has only repeated as national champions once in the Nick Saban era. With six rings, one would think that there would be more repeats during the Tide’s run. So, why has Alabama failed to repeat so often?

First, let’s state the obvious. Winning a single championship is hard enough, and it doesn’t get easier with time. Other teams are recruiting better, and the underdog role is real. With the same teams in the CFP race every year, it gets hard to beat the same top teams year in and year out.

Still, this hasn’t hurt Alabama in the past. If it were so easy to beat Alabama football after losing to them, this would also impact the SEC title race. Alabama has repeated as SEC champions plenty of times in the past, and they usually beat the same few teams in the SEC Championship.

Alabama also doesn’t get complacent. This argument is used for other teams who fail to sustain success. After reaching the top, the drive to stay there can go away. For Alabama football, this is not the case. They are almost always in the title hunt, but they slip up at the very end to either Auburn or a CFP opponent.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to the rotation of talent. In the past, Alabama’s title teams have looked different between championships. Since Alabama repeated with A.J. McCarron, Alabama hasn’t had the same starting quarterback from a title to the next season. Jake Coker graduated after winning a ring. Tua took over the starting job and had to learn how to be a full-time starter. This year, Mac Jones will be gone.

Alabama has rarely returned the key contributors from a title team. They usually go out on top and declare for the NFL Draft, and that timing hurts Alabama the most. They lost Derrick Henry after 2015, and they lost Calvin Ridley and plenty of key defensive players in 2017. When the team looks so different, the odds of repeating simply come down to coincidence.

dark. Next. Linebackers to dominate again

The same will happen this year. Alabama football will be without almost every starter on offense, and they will have to replace most of the greatest recruiting class ever. Still, the Tide have hope as the Bryce Young era begins, and perhaps Alabama will see their second repeat of the Saban era.