Granted, you might already not hate Alabama.
Maybe you’re a legitimate fan or have family that is. Maybe, like a certain Harvey Updyke Jr, you really enjoy saying “Roll Tide.” Or maybe, like me, you have way too much respect for Nick Saban’s powerhouse to hate it.
Don’t get me wrong, I was rooting for Clemson in Monday night’s College Football Playoff National Championship – a game college football fans will remember for a long, long time. It had everything. Big plays in every phase. Pro talent all over the field. One team trying for their first title in 35 years, the other trying for their fourth in seven.
That last part is why, though pulling for Dabo Swinney and the beautifully orange-clad Clemson Tigers, I wasn’t mad that Saban and the Tide finished them off.
Besides being “sick of them winning,” there isn’t much to dislike about Alabama. They aren’t super flashy and generally avoid controversy. Like Clemson, their uniforms are brilliantly simple: A traditional look contrasted just enough – but not too much – by new-school Nike gear and the explosive athletes wearing it.
Though opinions on uniforms probably shape my college football rooting interests more than most, it’s in that simple aesthetic notion where the key to one of modern sports’ true dynasties symbolically lies.
As you know if you’ve watched college football at all the past eight seasons, everything about the way Alabama plays football is traditional. Run the ball, play sound defense, minimize your mistakes.
And yet, thanks to ridiculous recruiting classes, they’ve always been able to add a lethal amount of explosiveness to their punishing, old-school style of play. Offensively, that’s been especially true the last two seasons with Lane Kiffin calling plays.
Kiffin’s two seasons in Tuscaloosa have seen 2014 Heisman nominee Amari Cooper finish with the second-most receiving yards in SEC history and 2015 Heisman winner Derrick Henry set an SEC record for rushing yards — all while the Tide went 26-3 and appeared in the College Football Playoff in both years of its existence.
Credit Nick Saban for hiring Kiffin at arguably the lowest point of his eventful career, a move that confirms Saban’s self-proclaimed goal of “always trying to learn more from younger people in our profession who do things a different way.”
Hard to not respect that type of humility and ambition from a man who’s lost only 12 football games since 2008.
And now, after defeating his fishing buddy Dabo on the grandest stage, Nick Saban has done something college football hasn’t seen a coach do since World War II: Win four national championships in seven seasons.
Considering the game’s level of parity has increased tenfold since then, it’s hard to describe how remarkable of an accomplishment that is.
If, or when, he adds a fifth – there won’t be much of an argument against Nick Saban being the greatest college football coach of all time.
See, Saban’s Alabama machine isn’t just about “getting the best talent.” Because it’s not that easy.
As is vital in any level of football, he’s been able to balance talent with military-like preparation. Each can get you pretty far on their own, but efficiently mixing the two is why Alabama has been so damn good for so long. It’s why Tuscaloosa, AL has become an NFL pipeline.
It’s why, thirty years from now, we’ll look back at this Alabama dynasty as “history.” And I don’t know about you, but I’ve always enjoyed witnessing history.
So, while not every Bama fan is as humble as their legendary head coach, think about that before you choose to hate witnessing it.