Nick Saban has it spot on. There’s no way you can have a college football playoff without its Alabama Crimson Tide. They’re among the key drivers of the NCAA’s healthy revenues this century, including $1.15 billion in 2021 to surpass the pre-pandemic $1.12 billion mark in 2019.
Next to . . .
Alabama is pretty good.
Alabama is very good. In fact, despite the Crimson Tide’s poor record by their standards — meaning it includes not one loss, but two — they’re the only team in the country that could keep the University of Georgia from heading to a second straight national championship roll.
It’s not Michigan and it’s not TCU, both with significantly less talent than a Georgia program United States today said finished third, fourth, first, second and first (backwards from 2022) in each of the last five recruitment cycles. It’s not defensively challenged Southern Cal or Ohio State, even if the Buckeyes make the CFP after being embarrassed at home by Michigan on Saturday.
It’s the only college football program to recruit as well (or slightly better) than Georgia in the last five years, and it’s also the last college football program to win back-to-back championships.
Saban’s Alabama teams from 2011 and 2012.
As for the current one, which beat archrival Auburn at home in Tuscaloosa during the Iron Bowl on Saturday for a 10th win of the year, 49-27 — this group of Tide players should become the CFP’s first two-loss pick since their Formation will be in 2014. More specifically, the CFP should take Alabama because of everything Saban told ESPN Saturday after Auburn’s win.
It all made sense.
“I don’t make those decisions, but I know what a resilient football team that was,” Saban told ESPN before providing more truth. “We lost two games against top 10 opponents, both in the last game of the game and away. We could have easily won both games, but we didn’t. We’re a good football team and hopefully people will recognize that and we’ll get a chance.”
About those two Alabama losses: You could say they were hit or miss because most of the time they were. They faced No. 5 LSU in October and No. 10 Tennessee in November, and both competed in stadiums that almost invented the term “hostile environment.”
The Tide almost didn’t care, and they had Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Young with a right shoulder so battered he barely trained for a month. Still, Young kept his tide close to defeating Tennessee until they dropped a 52-49 thriller in Knoxville on a late Tennessee field goal that barely wobbled over the bar.
Then came a 32-31 loss in overtime for Alabama to an LSU team that converted a two-point conversion.
“We had a lot of close games, didn’t always do our best in those games, but did enough to get 10 wins and persevered as a team,” Saban told ESPN, and here’s why we should trust what this guy says on all things Alabama and college football: He’s won seven national championships, including one at LSU and six in Alabama, where he grabbed his last ring after the national championship game for the 2020 season when his tide hit the Ohio State flattened 52-24.
Three years earlier, Saban secured the No. 6 title, and it was against Georgia, led by Kirby Smart, Saban’s former defensive coordinator, that the Bulldogs took over ahead of the 2016 season. Saban and Smart have won four SEC championships and four national titles together in Alabama.
Later, during the first four games that Smart’s Bulldogs faced Saban’s Tide, Georgia led or tied 171 of those 240 minutes. Georgia still went 4-0 with Alabama and that included the January 2018 national championship game, two SEC championship games and one regular season game.
Smart finally beat his old boss for the national championship last January with a 33-18 win in Indianapolis, but given the other Georgia-Alabama games with Kirby vs. Nick, here’s the question: was that January 2018 national championship game another? Stroke of luck? Loss to Alabama?
Yet another reason to include the Tide in this year’s CFP Final Four.
let’s find out