With the season now behind us I feel like I need to revisit a few things I wrote this year. Channeling my inner-Clay Travis, here’s my “I told you so” moments from this season. But first, two quick highlights if you don’t want to read the whole thing.
1) August 23rd was the first time I mentioned this could be the best defense in NCAA history.
2) In Week 4 – five weeks before they even played – I mentioned the real possibility of LSU and Bama playing again for the BCS title.
*Disclaimer: I guess I’m used to writing “back seven” out of habit even when the defense Bama uses is a 3-4, so please forgive me.
Aug 23rd: Bama’s Back Seven – The back seven of Bama could make for one the best defensive teams college football has ever seen due to talent, coaching and really bad qb play (not you, Tyler Wilson) in the West. A few things to take into consideration… In 2010 Bama ranked nationally in the following defensive categories:
- 5th in total defense (286 ypg)
- 10th in Rushing Defense (110 ypg)
- 13th in Passing Defense (176 ypg)
- 3rd in Scoring Defense (13 ppg)
- Expect Kirby Smart to look like Joe Lee Dunn at times… well, minus a few hundred pounds
Week 1: Alabama -36’ vs. Kent State. Bama could be the best defensive teams college football has ever seen.
Week 2: Bama -10 @ Penn State – As I said last week, this Bama defense has the ability to be the greatest defense ever.
Week 4: Bama – 11’ vs. Arkansas – This week’s SEC Game of the Year. The two best coaches in the country – at least the two best offensive and defensive minds in the game – face off to take charge of the West before both get LSU in November. Bama covering a set of NFL receivers is the best SEC in-game match-up I can remember in years. Each week I’ve been saying Bama’s defense has the potential to be one of the greatest that college football and it will certainly be put to the test.
What we learned from Week 4:
- Bama’s defense has a chance to be considered the greatest in college football history if they keep pace. Settling down after a quick start from Tyler Wilson, what they did to Petrino’s offense was other-worldly. If McCarron plays error-free football – completing the four or five difficult passes required from him each game – it’s going to be hard to keep the Tide from winning it all. The collapse of 2010 is all the motivation Saban needs and Cam Newton’s no longer around.
- Anyone ready for the LSU-Bama game on the fifth of November? Could we be looking at a rematch in the BCS title game, pitting two teams in the same division of the same conference? You better damn believe it. You don’t think an 11-1 Bama or LSU team will have a high enough BCS ranking to be the #2 team? Either team would win in Norman. They would win in Palo Alto. They would win on Pluto.
Week 5: Bama -4’ @ Florida: Charlie Cameltoes hasn’t seen this kind of defense since the NFL so Bama wins and covers 28-17.
Week 5 what we learned: Is this Bama defense is inching towards the title of the best defense in college football history. What exactly are the ingredients that go into claiming that “mythical moniker?” Let’s take a look:
National Ranking of Defensive Statistics (and remember Bama’s played the two best offensive teams in the SEC):
- Total Defense – #3 (190 ypg)
- Rushing – #1 (39 ypg and 1.9 ypc)
- Passing – #5 (152 ypg) and yards away from the #2 spot
- Points Per Game – #1 (8.4 ppg)
- Pass Efficiency - #2
- First Down Defense - #1
- TFL (#15), Fumbles Recovered (#60), Interceptions (#35)
Obviously those five categories speak for themselves but I find the last three telling. It means Bama plays straight up to shut an offense down. Exclusive of the sterling statistics Bama’s the most violent college defense, too. Rarely do they miss “in space,” the biggest cliché of the past five years, and deliver the kill shot in the process. Where this defense ends up I can’t say, but I’ve been writing before week one is you’ll have to do serious work to convince me this isn’t best ever.
Rematch in the BCS title game? Let’s say Bama runs the table – SEC title included – and beats LSU by a field goal. Would LSU have a high enough BCS ranking to jump a handful of undefeated teams? Does five years of SEC success support a case for LSU? Did LSU maul the winner of the PAC-12 and Big East? Flip it with LSU beating Bama there’s no way a one-loss Bama team leaps a few undefeated teams?
Week 7: Bama -24’ @ Ole Miss – Broken record section of the week. What separates the Bama defense from the LSU defense? Bama can survive without delivering a haymaker. They line up and punch an offense in the face play after play until it blacks out and crumbles; their stats are my corner man.
Week 8: Bama -30 vs. UT – Wow, UT is a 30-point dog to a football team not playing in the NFL? To make it worse it’s the hated Crimson Tide. A bye week before the LSU game means the Tide won’t let off the gas with a week of rest forthcoming. To be honest, I’m not sure if there’s such a thing as letting off the gas with their style of play. Defense > short field for the offense > run > score.
Keys to the LSU-Bama Game: “It’s the biggest football game in the history of mankind.” OK, let’s move on to the four keys that will decide this game.
1 - The Field Goal Kicker – Sometimes the homely girl at the end of a crowded Hollywood bar – or the least-talked about – is the one you want to hitch your wagon to at last call. Her name isn’t Honey Badger. She doesn’t cuss people out in public. She doesn’t smoke synthetic or real weed. She doesn’t eat real or synthetic grass. She doesn’t talk in circles or say “aight” every third word. She has neither a process nor a plan. She doesn’t have shiny rims on her car or wear fancy suits purchased at the mall. She doesn’t pass the “look test,” yet this forgettable girl might be the most important girl in a crowd of 102,000. A Kate Upton in Rosie O’ Donnell’s clothing, if you will.
Week 12: A good friend of mine recently asked me how the Saban era would end in Tuscaloosa, and for some reason the first thing that came to my mind was a scene out of Forrest Gump. (The whole Alabama football connection makes this analogy even more bizarre than it already is.)
Remember when Gump’s galloping back and forth across the country with his loyal followers trotting behind him like he was some kind of mythical God, one they were almost afraid to talk to? Then one random day Gump turned to his legion of followers and said something like, “I think I’m going home now.” With no explanation supporting his departure his followers were caught off guard and looked at each other like their brains had been removed. Gump was tired of life on the road and retired to his boat near the water catching shrimp and figuring out all the things he could do with an apple. (Or at least that’s how I remember it.)
When Saban unexpectedly retires during a 90-second impromptu presser his departure isn’t going to be much different than Gump’s. He’ll say he’s tired and wants to go home. Using hand gestures to hammer home his point, he’ll talk about developing a process to spend time on a boat near some random lake to catch shrimp or something, a’ight. And just like that… poof… he’s gone forever. Like Gump abruptly leaving his dedicated followers in a state of disbelief, Saban’s unexpected vanishing act will leave the entire Bama nation feeling like they just lost their purpose in life. Yes, it will be that devastating. Ultimately, Gump only cared about running and Saban winning; all that came with that was secondary. If you don’t think this exact scenario will play out you are wrong. And I can also assure you that the three paragraphs written above are incredibly ridiculous. Over/U on the retirement of Nick Saban at six years – Under
November 29th: Many believe there will be a split title (BCS/AP) if the Tide leaves NOLA victorious, but I believe Bama bags both titles with a victory. This is a game to decide a champion, right? In sports there can only be one winner and that’s why the game is played.
I know society likes to coddle its youth with the “everyone is a winner” mentality but big boys play in the SEC and not everyone can be a winner. Sorry. A shared national title makes sense if two teams don’t actually play each other, but this is not the case. If Bama beats LSU in THE national championship game why in the world should a title be shared?
What’s that you say, LSU fan? We beat Alabama on the road… Bama didn’t win its division or conference because we did… We’ve beaten three teams in the top-10 of the BCS standings and have two more BCS top-10 wins than the rest of the BCS top-10 combined… Bama beat just three teams with a winning record all season… Our road win at Bama will be more impressive than a Bama win against us at a neutral site…
We should all take a step back and look at it from a different perspective.
Let’s say this year’s Kentucky hoops team goes undefeated beating Florida three times (SEC tourney included) along the way. Only losing three games all season, all to Kentucky, the Gators end up playing the Wildcats a fourth time in the national title game and win. Should the AP crown Kentucky as national champs despite losing the title game and the USA Today crown Florida? If you think Kentucky deserves half of the national championship after this loss you’re firmly in the camp that believes “we’re all winners.” Hey, that’s cool with me but when it comes to sports your “Can’t We All Just Get Along?” t-shirt is weak.
Ultimately, if the Tide beats LSU in a rematch both trophies will end up in Tuscaloosa. End of story. Maybe Mark May and Lou Holtz will give Tiger fans helmet stickers for second place, but second place should never be confused with first place. And to think some people have the audacity to believe that even if the Tigers lose to UGA, and then end up beating Bama, they still deserve to be champions.
Society these days…
December & January: I slacked and didn’t write anything.
January 10th: The best defense ever? I certainly believe it is.
Tyler B. works as a communications specialist for a Louisville, Kentucky company. A lifetime SEC fan – long before it became “acceptable” to cheer for every team in the conference – he plans on writing several books about college football that have a fantastic chance of never being written.