Why Alabama football doesn’t care about moral victories

Alabama football has only one standard: perfection

Over Nick Saban’s tenure with Alabama football, the Tide have had more first-round draft picks than losses. It’s statistically more likely for the Tide to win a national title than it is for them to lose two games in a season under Saban. Alabama has two undefeated seasons in the Saban era, which is more than any other school in that same timespan.

Needless to say, the Crimson Tide have a different idea of success than the rest of the country. That’s what happens when you win more national titles than some programs win conference titles.

This season, we’ve seen plenty of “moral victories” in college football. Teams will end the game with fewer points, but they’ll focus on what they did well or how close it was. Butch Jones once coined the phrase “champions of the game of life” for this concept.

Since Saban’s first title with Alabama football, the concept of a moral victory has been thrown out the window. It’s very clear why. When you are the top dog, there’s nothing worse than failing to live up to the potential. When you have the best talent, coaching and facilities in the country, anything less than victory would be a failure.

Every Alabama football player who has stayed in Tuscaloosa for at least three years with Saban has won one national title or more. Playing for the Tide is existential. You’re playing for the present crown of national champions, but you’re also playing to validate the work from your past. You validate your own work in the offseason and the work by former players to build a winning culture and program. You’re also playing for the future of Alabama football by proving the dynasty is still alive.

When that is your standard, sometimes winning is not enough. You’re not playing to win the scoreboard. You’re playing to be the best you can possibly be, which has a higher threshold than scoring more points.

That’s what sets Alabama football apart. If winning the game may not be enough, losing will never be.