2019: A Pivotal Season for Nick Saban

Nick Saban

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Throughout most of the 2018 college football season, the Alabama Crimson Tide looked virtually unstoppable. The Tide steamrolled its way through the early part of their schedule. Propelled by super sophomore Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback, Alabama looked so dominate that more than a few observers anointed them as perhaps the greatest college football team of all time. The 2019 version of the Tide figures to be another potentially stellar unit, and don’t be surprised if some of the same hyperbolic rhetoric used to describe Alabama teams of the past surface once again. 

Number one classes aside, the Clemson Tigers made Nick Saban and his Crimson Tide look very ordinary on the games biggest stage, the CFB National Title game. Clemson so thoroughly dominated Alabama that it made the Tide look like they didn’t belong in the first place. Alabama didn’t exactly dominate during the final stretch of the regular season when opposing teams began stacking the line of scrimmage. Suddenly, the much ballyhooed Tagovailoa began turning in more humanlike performances. With the Heisman trophy seemingly his to lose going into the SEC Championship game versus Georgia, he did just that. Were it not for Jalen Hurts late-game heroics, Alabama doesn’t make the playoffs at all. Talk about irony. 

The blowout loss to Clemson shocked the college football world and helped serve notice that the Alabama stronghold on college football was fragile, at best. Clemson was the better football team, and it showed on the field. And the Tigers aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. QB Trevor Lawrence is back for at least two more seasons, and unless the ACC can be resuscitated back to life quickly, it appears Clemson will be regular fixtures in the CFB Playoffs for the foreseeable future. The utter dominance the Tigers displayed in dismantling Alabama could be a sign that the Crimson Tide may no longer be the premier program in the sport. Seldom has a Nick Saban team looked as vulnerable as they did last January. 

Nearing seventy years of age, could it be that Saban is starting to lose his edge? This season might be the turning point for the legendary Alabama coach. There will certainly be eyes watching. Or will old Saint Nick show that he still has a few tricks up his sleeve and have the Tide back to clicking on all cylinders? Don’t be surprised if the latter is the case. For now anyway, there is no doubt that Dabo Swinney and his Crimson Tigers are kings of the zoo. 

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