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Alabama coach Nick Saban Has Curious Comments About 2021 Season

August 3, 2022

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ATHENS - Alabama Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said last year’s national-title season for Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs came during a “rebuilding year” for the Tide. 

Saban, who is entering his 16th season in Tuscaloosa, made those comments on WJOX’s McElroy and Cubelic in the Morning show. No. 1 Alabama lost 33-18 to the Bulldogs in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. 

“Last year - we had kind of a rebuilding year,” Saban said on the program. “We should have nine starters back on offense (and) nine on defense, but six guys go out early for the draft and now we have five back on offense and seven back on defense. That, in and of itself creates a few more question marks, but it also creates opportunity for other players to be able to shine in the program and be able to contribute in a positive way. So nobody knows for sure how this stuff is going to come to fruition but that’s part of the excitement and challenge we have to be able to develop a team.”

A few things. 

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First, Saban is correct. 2021 certainly was a “rebuilding year” for Alabama. We’ve seen these before. Think about 2010, but perhaps 2019 is a better example. Alabama can certainly take a step back in order to get a running start for the next year(s). 

2021, which was an excellent season in many regards (even for Saban’s Alabama) included a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback and an SEC title. Alabama just didn’t win the national title. It also struggled in a slew of games: on the road at Florida, the loss at Texas A&M, the six-point home win over LSU, the fight at Bryant–Denny against Sam Pittman’s Hogs, the impressive come-from-behind win over Auburn and the loss to Georgia in Indy

Did Alabama’s struggles in so many of those games (the word struggled “might” be applied to their 2020 wins over Georgia and the Gators) show the Tide’s problems or abilities? Few folks mention just how much Alabama had to earn its way to the College Football Playoff. Their season probably should have ended at Auburn, but Bryce Young and company found a way to take advantage of every Auburn mistake in the closing minutes to win. A week later they flew past Georgia in Atlanta. 

Both of those wins shows the power of Saban’s Alabama. It shows the default switch in Tuscaloosa is always “winning.”

Second, while it certainly appears that 2021 was a rebuilding year for Alabama, there are no certainties about winning it all when it is “your time”, or when you are favored to do so. And right now Alabama is favored to win it all.

Meanwhile, the Dawgs are still in the SEC - still ready to confront Saban and the Tide in Atlanta later this season if they both get there. Kirby said this at media days

“We will not be hunted at the University of Georgia. I can promise you that. The hunting we do will be from us going the other direction. We’re not going to sit back and be passive about.”

Does is matter that Georgia beat Alabama a season ago? Does that fact change things moving forward? It could.

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