Alabama Football fans are so passionate about the Crimson Tide, patience is sometimes discarded in favor of too-soon conclusions. Nick Saban teaches patience, fueled by resolve and doing the right things to become a Champion.
Saban’s philosophy is a good guide for all of us and not just about football. But since much of the joy of following a sports program is anticipation, fans do zero harm indulging whatever fancies them. Two weeks (okay, two-plus, maybe at some point, week zero can just be called week one) into a college football season decides nothing. Even a truly dreadful program like New Mexico State, could, before the season ends, win a few games.
On this site, we have done three SEC Power Rankings and each week some teams are a surprise. Broader than the SEC, there is a good example of why never to be sure about the outcome of any game. In week one Notre Dame escaped with an overtime win against Florida State. In 2020, FSU was 3-6; its worst season since before Bobby Bowden took over as the Noles’ coach in 1976. In 2020, the Fighting Irish were ranked No. 2 before losing to Clemson in the ACC Championship game and No. 4 before being embarrassed by Alabama Football in the CFB Playoff.
Given the recent history of the two teams, it is hard to understand how the Irish were only favored by seven points over FSU. After FSU loss by three in OT, national chatter proclaimed the Noles were back. A week later, after a loss to FCS Jacksonville State, it was obvious the Noles were not back.
What does this have to do with Alabama Football?
The story above applies more to other SEC teams than it does to the Crimson Tide. Alabama Football is not invulnerable. It is though – in the context of athletic competitions – highly predictable. With almost unprecedented repetition, Alabama Football almost always wins the games it is supposed to win. In 195 Alabama Football games, Nick Saban’s teams have lost just 23 games. Six of those losses came in 2007, his first Crimson Tide season. Since then the record has been 165-17; a 90.1 winning percentage.
Seven or eight of the 17 losses came against what were, on that day, better teams. The other losses were the results of sensational performances by opposing players or key Tide players lost to injury or unpredictably bad luck. Though it could happen in any closely matched contest, the Crimson Tide almost never beats itself.
Under Nick Saban, Alabama consistently finds ways to win. It may or may not win another SEC and National Championship this season. In September, it is impossible to know. As fans, we can’t approach it as Tide players do. They focus on the next drill, the next rep, the next study session – taking them as they come. We can be outcome-driven because they are coached not to be.
It is hard to not obsess over outcomes, as a fan of a program that has an every-season expectation of a National Championship. The 2021 Crimson Tide has time to develop, answerable only to team goals and expectations. Patience in that process is valuable. It might be for fans as well – at least until October gets here.
The smartest decision ever made about the CFB Playoff was delaying every season’s first ranking until the second half of the season. This year the first CFB Playoff weekly ranking will be released on Nov. 2.