This time last season, Alabama head coach Nick Saban watched as SEC rival LSU capped off one of the greatest seasons in history with a National Championship victory. The then five-time championship winner missed the College Football Playoff for the first time and was set to go into 2020 with a very young team. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was leaving for the NFL. Joining him were wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III, offensive tackle Jedrick Wills, safety Xavier McKinney, cornerback Trevon Diggs, defensive tackle Raekwon Davis, edge rusher Terrell Lewis and Anfernee Jennings. All who were not only picked within the first two days of the draft but longtime starters for the Tide.
To college football fans, they were hoping this loss of talent and the rise of rival programs would signal the beginning of the end for Saban and the Crimson Tide. Instead, it would only mark the beginning of a year that Saban would remind everyone what he and his team are capable of.
The Marvelous 2020 Campaign
To understand how Alabama has reached another level, one must understand how they got here. After losing all that talent to the NFL, Alabama had to reconstruct the roster. Luckily, they had their usual cupboard of five-star recruits that have been waiting for their time to shine. That is on top of whichever stars elect to return.
Mac Jones, Tagovailoa’s late-season injury replacement, won the starting quarterback job. Running back Najee Harris returned, and wide receivers DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle were joined by John Metchie and Slade Bolden, who received ample playtime in 2019. Tight ends Miller Forristall and Jahleel Billingsley improved, and they somehow got even better along the offensive line despite Wills departing for the pros.
Defensively, Alabama struggled early before finding its footing. It helps having the best cornerback in the country in Patrick Surtain II, linebacker Dylan Moses, and defensive lineman Christian Barmore.
Alabama steamrolled opponents, as Jones, Harris, and Smith had seasons worthy of Heisman consideration. Ultimately, Smith took the award, having arguably the best season in college football history for a wide receiver.
As of Monday, Alabama finished the season undefeated for the first time in the Saban-CFP era, as National Champions. In fact, Ohio State did not even look like they belonged, even though they blew out Clemson the week before. Alabama was just on another level in the 52-24 route. And they are not going anywhere.
Building from Here
Alabama produces a ridiculous amount of NFL talent. NFL stars such as Julio Jones, Derrick Henry, Amari Cooper, Marlon Humphrey, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Josh Jacobs, amongst many others came through Tuscaloosa. What is most impressive is that a handful were not even multi-year starters, or even starters while at Alabama. The bottom line is Alabama is a pipeline of professionalism that prepares young men for the pros better than any other program around the country.
That is why Saban and the Crimson Tide are not going anywhere. According to 247sports, Alabama has the number one recruiting class for 2021. More often than not over the past decade, Alabama has been a staple amongst the best-recruiting classes in the country.
Of course, their top prospects, Jones, Harris, Smith, Waddle, Barmore, and others have not declared for the 2021 NFL Draft yet. But it would be shocking to see them return. Already, the team is going to have Bryce Young, 2020’s number one quarterback, set to be under center next season. He will have Metchie and Slade out wide, and the next great Alabama tight end in Billingsley to throw to. Not to mention their defense will have youth and experience, even with Surtain and Moses likely leaving.
Appreciating Saban’s Legacy
Saban just won his sixth National Championship in 14 years as the Alabama head coach, and his seventh overall. . He has never won fewer than 10 games since his first season at Alabama. His team has also never started or finished a season below 10th in the rankings since 2008. Saban has solidified himself among the greatest recruiters in the sport’s history. Above all, Saban might just be the best college football head coach in history. Already he had a strong case again Paul “Bear” Bryant. However, it is the amount of success in such a short amount of time that sets him apart. Bryant’s first of six titles came in 1961, his last in 1979. Saban’s entire career at Alabama has been shorter and he now has seven
Whether people realize it or not, they are witnessing the greatest college football head coach of all time. And he is leading one of the most amazing stretches of football from one program in history.