Alabama Football: On Nick Saban, nickels, dimes, Jimmys and Joes


What happens every time Alabama Football loses a game is at full throttle again. For some, it is a lament. For others, it is a boast. Either way, the message is the same, college football has left Nick Saban behind.

At some point, the claim may prove true. That possibility does make current claims any more valid.

All the Tide’s losses, going back to 2013, are shocking, at least to Alabama Crimson Tide fans. There have been 13 of them, going back to closing the 2013 season with losses to Auburn and Oklahoma.

If Saban has slipped as some say, the 121 Alabama football wins going back to 2013, show the lofty branch upon which Nick Saban has been perched – looking down at the rest of college football.

Skipping any debate over whether Nick Saban will always be CFB’s GOAT, he is that now, and no last-second, three-point road loss diminishes Saban’s status.

It is possible, however, to agree with everything above and proclaim no team should ever score 52 points on a Nick Saban defense. But a few other teams have come close. Oklahoma scored 45 points in the 2014 Sugar Bowl. Clemson scored 44 in a 2018 National Championship beatdown. LSU scored 46 points in 2019, in Tuscaloosa.

Without checking, I’m guessing there were plenty of ‘the game has passed Saban by’ stories, after each of those losses.

What makes the Tennessee loss so troubling is not the points the Vols scored, but how they went about doing it. Another blow-by-blow recounting is not needed.

Instead, what many Alabama football fans need is to understand why the Vols so often scored with what appeared to be inadequate resistance. I submit no one outside the Alabama football staff has that knowledge. What the rest of us seek is a belief that problems are correctable.

Some blame Saban’s complicated defensive scheme, which clearly did not work well enough against Tennessee. Others conclude Alabama has a ‘Jimmy and Joes’ deficiency in the secondary and perhaps also on the defensive line and at inside linebacker.

Throughout college football, it has long been debated whether recruiting or coaching is the most important ingredient for winning. Nick Saban knows it is both.

Alabama Football Base Nickel Defense

A few students of the game argue the Crimson Tide’s nickel defense, as it was sometimes schemed, was never going to stop certain Tennessee formations. Saban said the defense was better in the second half, using a dime package and sometimes dropping eight into coverage.

The most fearful of Crimson Tide fans think the Tide’s defensive weakness against the Vols was both scheme and personnel. It is staggering to contemplate that having any truth. A counter to such thinking is Tennessee scored 28 points in the first 18:19 of the game and 24 points in the other 41-plus minutes. Alabama did make adjustments during the game, just not quite enough.

Alabama Football is still the standard. dark. Next

Over the years, Nick Saban has shown an ability to adapt. There should be no doubt, he will remedy whatever is fixable in the short term – and do whatever needs to be done in the long term. The odds are high Nick Saban will prove the ‘passed by’ summations are wrong again