Alabama Football: College football’s new normal is not normal at all

(Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) /

The 2022 Alabama football season has not been normal. In the long Nick Saban era of Alabama Crimson Tide football, playing for championships is the normal. This means, in the minds of Crimson Tide fans, the 2022 season is a failure.

No program can live up to such a standard, but going back to 2009 Alabama has delivered in extraordinary measure.

Not suddenly, but quickly, the Alabama Football standard is under duress. That vision of the Crimson Tide’s future is cloudy does not mean an end. What it means is college football has changed and will not go back to what it was only a few seasons ago.

It matters not if fans celebrate or bemoan the most impactful changes. For programs, coaches and players there is a new normal. Free agency, gained through minimal impediments to transfer, and NIL have become the new foundation upon which to build championship seasons.

For Alabama Football, Nick Saban played the new rules most skillfully for the 2020 season. Since then, and especially this season, other coaches have mastered the new rules better than the GOAT.

Now, at a point in life when few are adept at adaptability, Nick Saban must change course again. The championship-producing, Nick Saban ‘Process’ was built from recruiting, development, hard work, attention to detail and patience.

There is no longer time for patience.

College football’s new rules have de-valued multi-season development, in favor of what Kevin Clark, writing for The Ringer, calls “get rich-quick schemes.”

For multiple reasons that probably no fan fully understands, the 2022 Alabama Crimson Tide was not championship quality. Part of understanding why can be simply explained. The 10-2 Crimson Tide lost to two Transfer Portal quarterbacks and two coaches who understood how to prepare a roster in a microwave rather than a crock pot.

Kevin Clark’s piece in The Ringer is thoughtful and well worth the long read it requires. He admits he and no one else knows what comes next for college football. That feels accurate, and if it is, it means Nick Saban has to guess as well.

Another Alabama Football may never be again

Clark’s premise is, what Alabama Football was, it will never be again – and possibly “no one is built to succeed Alabama in the future.” Clark is not predicting an Alabama Football demise. He is asking that when Alabama’s run ends (and ALL runs eventually do) will any program ever again replicate what Nick Saban accomplished.

College football’s future will continue to have a small number of programs, including Alabama Football, able to contend for championships season after season. What it could also have is a new level of unpredictability, driven by frequently changing one-season, and maybe two-season, wonders who can derail the annually elite programs.

Next. Sugar Bowl will have intriguing RB matchup. dark

Alabama Football will not become one of, what may be many, ‘flash in the pan’ programs – not as long as it is led by Nick Saban. It won’t come to that because Saban is not averse to change. He will analyze all the changing factors and adapt. Fans will continue to demand immediate fixes to easily seen deficiencies. Nick Saban will, as he always has, dive deeper; challenging everyone around him, and as importantly, challenging himself to achieve excellence.