I’m not going to preview the season in the traditional sense. Instead, what we are going to do is use each team as a jumping off point to talk about other issues in the game, and maybe a little about the team itself.
But I sense you want a preview. So here it goes: Alabama is going to win the SEC unless some unforeseen disaster strikes their program. They are not simply the best team in the conference (and the country), but they are so far and away better than every other team, they have genuinely broken the sport.
I’m not saying this to complain about Bama and I’m not mad at them other than the extent Bama is a rival and I hate them winning a lot. But Nick Saban’s job is to win as many football games as possible and boy, has he done that.
Look, college football has always been dominated by the biggest programs and you can make a case that Alabama’s dominance of the SEC during the 1970’s was even more extreme. The difference was that the SEC was not nearly the all-powerful juggernaut in that era.
Bama only lost three games in a season once from 1971-80. They won eight conference titles in the span of nine years, and lost only four conference games… total. But they only turned that into three national titles.
So I don’t want to pretend Bama winning a bunch is a new thing. It’s not. But the difference between now and then is that the sports was trending towards parity during the 80s and 90s and, boy, has that trend reversed itself.
Since 2008, Bama has only had a three-loss season once. They have won six national titles in that span. But really, they have taken it to the next level in the past half decade. Since 2016, Bama has been to SIX of the past seven title games, winning three of them. The only time they didn’t make the title game was because of the Greatest Team of All-Time, the 2019 LSU Tigers. Let that be your guide.
This year, Alabama has 20 players on the media’s preseason All-SEC team. They have ten players on the All-SEC first team, out of 26 slots. That’s nearly half. They have the returning Heisman Trophy winner in Bryce Young, and he’s not even the best player on their roster, Will Anderson is.
Nick Saban has ruthlessly exploited every change in the college football rulebook to his program’s benefit. He is a perfectly amoral coach in this manner. He asks if this is what we want football to be? And when the rules change, he goes in whole hog.
He is the greatest recruiter in the history of the sport, and now he has the ability to recruit the players on your roster that he missed out on. Alabama gets the best high school players in the country and then, when the ones he didn’t get become elite talents somewhere else, he can get them to transfer in with no wait. He gets a second chance? How unfair is that?
How is anyone supposed to keep up with that? Bama recruits better than you, and now is the premier destination for what is essentially free agency.
This is not Bama’s fault, per se. They don’t make the rules, they just play by them better than anyone. There’s no one there to enforce those rules anyway, but there’s always someone there to hand them a trophy.
They’ll probably get another one this year, and there’s nothing we can do about it but get better at the same game. Beat them off the field so you can beat them on the field. Not just one year like 2019, but year-in, year-out. You can never take a season off.
Don’t get mad, get better.