Wednesday, January 09, 2013

the alabama dynasty

Did you watch the game?  Oh you know what game... Alabama's complete destruction of the Notre Dame Fightin' Irish.  I knew it was coming.  I knew that it would be a blowout.  Honestly, I think most Alabama fans knew it, but were afraid to say because of the sports superstitions that dictate saying such predictions jinxes and thereby ruins a win. 

A familiar sight for most of the evening.  Bama celebrating,
Notre Dame looking on, out of breath
But I knew it was coming.  Notre Dame is a team that took 3 overtimes to beat Pitt, who ended up losing to Ole Miss in the BBVA Compass Bowl.  Notre Dame is a good team, even with a sketch schedule, and it takes a lot to go 12-0.  So I give the Fightin' Irish props... but they are about the 6th best team in the SEC.  Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Florida and South Carolina were all better teams, with Mississippi State likely to give them a game.  It wasn't that Notre Dame didn't show up... they showed up.  They just got steamrolled. 

And frankly, I'm surprised the game was a close as it was

I'm a Florida fan.  I'm a Florida Gators fan surrounded by a wave of Alabama fans.  The Lovely Steph Leann is an Alabama graduate.  Her dad is.  Her mom roots for the Tide.  Her sister and brother, and the brother's wife are Alabama graduates.  The Crimson is everywhere, and unfortunately for Campbell Isaiah, he doesn't have a chance.

I graduated from Troy State University, so she has allowed the opportunity to have Campbell become a Troy fan... but using faulty rationale, because I did not go to the University of Florida, I therefore am faulty in rooting for them, and Campbell can therefore not be allowed to do the Gator Chomp at any time. 

(using this rationale eliminated the fandom of 87% of Alabama fans in this state, but that's beside the point... I do contend, however, that he will end up rooting for whoever he wants to.  I say that I get one to turn into a fan, and she gets the next one... The Lovely Steph Leann has claimed Campbell, so it looks like Lorelei Addison will be wearing a Troy Cheerleader outfit while doing the Gator Chomp.  Its only fair.)

The preceding paragraph was the set up to what I want to say, but making sure that you are aware I am not an Alabama fan, or a "Bammer" as the Harvey Updykes of the world are called, but am looking at this as a college football fan...

Here's my thought...

We are in the middle of, and thus bearing witness to, one of the greatest football sports dynasties in all of history. 

And I don't feel bad about saying it.  The Florida Gators winning two titles in three years wasn't a dynasty, they were just a really good football team with a really good quarterback.. TEEEBOOWW!!!!!   Remember, the year in between their titles, they were something like 8-5 or so...

The Alabama Crimson Tide has won 3 BCS Championships in four years.  The state of Alabama has held the BCS title for four years in a row, with Auburn's title coming after Alabama's first (for this run) and before their back-to-backs.

Consider this... in the last five seasons Nick Saban has been at the helm (his first season, there were wins vacated due to earlier infractions, so they only have a 2-6 record that counts), the team has gone 61-7.  That's 61 victories, 7 losses... and 5 of those are in two separate seasons (2 in 2008, 3 in 2010). Beyond that, they have a loss to LSU and one to Texas A&M, earlier this year.

This team is a monster.  And its not that they are good for a season or two (Auburn?), or are good enough to win a title, reload, then contend again (Florida?  LSU?), or are good enough to be good, but not enough to be great (Georgia?), they are good, and great, every year.  Every single year.

Roommates and buddies, center Barrett Jones and QB AJ McCarron had
a disagreement.  It made for one of the only real competitions of the night.
In fact the only time AJ was touched was when his own center gave him
a shove. 
Center Barrett Jones has more championship rings (3) than the Auburn Tigers have as a team (2).  Quarterback AJ McCarron has more championship rings (3) than he does losses as a starting quarterback (2--LSU and A&M).

And when I say "we are the middle of...", I mean it.  When Tim Tebow left Florida in 2009, we knew Florida would take a year or two to rebound.  Urban Meyer up and left, there has been QB after QB who have struggled over and over, and while coach Will Muschamp has them on the right road--a few bounces here and there from Notre Dame and Florida would have been the ones getting blown out in the BCS Championship Game--it has taken a few years. 

Alabama is different.  They are already reloaded for next season, and are preseason contenders and will likely be ranked #1 at the season's beginning.  And this is something that will continue for a while. Sure, they'll lose good classes, some years a mass of seniors will move on, leaving a dearth of underclassmen to carry the weight, and those years, you Bama fans will have to suffer through those dreadful seasons of 9-3 and 10-2--you poor fanbase.

Obviously, the titles won't be every year. As a matter of fact, I predict they won't win the final BCS next year, and will end up in the Sugar Bowl blasting Kansas State 56-7, but that just means they'll have to wait another year or two for "16". 

(I won't get into the whole "15 national championships" thing, and how ridiculous that claim is... while I stand in awe of Alabama, I'm not giving them props for what they don't deserve)

What's worse, for every fan of every other team not named Crimson Tide, is the upcoming playoff system.  From what I gather, one of the reasons that the playoff system is being implemented in 2 years is that other conferences were tiring of the SEC stranglehold on the BCS Trophy, and wanted to do something that didn't put the SEC in the game so often... which backfires, because not every year Alabama will qualify for one of the top two spots... but more often than not, they'll be in the top four, meaning they can play their way to the title game. 

And to me, this also brings up another interesting dynamic... the legend of Bear Bryant vs. the current coach, Nick Saban.  From an outsider looking in, Nick Saban is a better coach. 

Bear Bryant is a legend.  And the key word is "legend".  I'm not taking anything away from him at Alabama, and his 25 years, amassing a record of something like 237-46, a ton of bowl wins, and depending on how you count and who you believe, a bunch of national titles. 

In a great line, Saban was asked, "What do you do with all your
championship rings?  Do you wear them?" and he responded that he
lays them all on the coffee table in front of potential recruits.
But Nick Saban has three titles at Alabama in four years, and four titles to his name if you toss in the LSU one.  He has to deal with restrictions from the NCAA that The Bear never dealt with, from recruiting violations to when you can practice to how much you contact a player to dealing with gifts and money and boosters and so on, with ALL of it being broadcast to the world every minute from everything from Finebaum to Twitter.  A player gets drunk at a party, you know about it.  His own daughter got into a cat-fight at a sorority function, and we knew about it as it was going on. 

Bear Bryant never dealt with any of that.  I don't know how strict the NCAA was on things back in the 60s and 70s, and I know it took the SMU scandal in the 80s for them to really crack down on boosters and such, but I'm guessing that paying players didn't start with Southern Methodist.  (hear me now, I am not accusing Coach Bryant of doing anything illegal or cheating in any way).  Also, conditions in which players could practice weren't regulated (anyone see that movie about Bear at Texas A&M?  I'm sure some of that was real).

My whole point is, Bear Bryant never had to coach in an atmosphere of restrictions and parity that Nick Saban is having to deal with today.  Football players likely did the same things in 1966 as they do now, as did boosters, but you didn't hear about it, or it was easy to cover up then... not so much now. 

Perhaps the actual star of the game, AJ's lady
friend, Katherine Webb.  However, I will not stoop
to the levels of other sites and just toss her picture
up here for effect.  I refuse to do it.  Look else-
where for that. 
What people my age know about Bear Bryant is only stories from our parents and grandparents, and how good he was.  We hear tales of games and victories and names that have long since retired from the NFL or never made it that far and have retired from selling insurance 30 years ago.  What we know now is Nick Saban, and the masterful job he's done at not only Alabama, but Michigan State, Utah and even LSU, as much as we all hate LSU.  Let's be real, everyone hates LSU.  Even LSU fans, they just don't know it yet.

So it becomes a generational argument, and as the legend of Bryant gets passed down from father to son, so grows the Legend of Nick Saban.  I contend that in 20 years, those children who will be age I am now will be discussing Saban in Bryant-like mythos.  And Bear Bryant will eventually become a Knute Rockne figure... someone everyone know was great, but no one really knows what he actually did.  Sorta like people look at George Denny.  You know, the "denny" in Bryant-Denny Stadium.  Exactly.

Anyway, that's my assessment on Alabama.  They are very, very good football team, and will remain so for a long time.  And while wishing the same type of success for the Go Gators, I am recognizing the greatness of what is occurring and the rarity of it all.

There's my thoughts.

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