Is the Alabama football dynasty dead?
It’s a ridiculous question to even ponder. Of course, the Alabama football dynasty is dead.
But that doesn’t mean the good times are over in Tuscaloosa or that the next national championship is more than a year away.
First, let’s get the dynasty question out of the way.
When one team has won two of the last three national championships and is one win away from a third in four years (which Clemson is), then that team is in the middle of a dynasty.
That means no other team, including Alabama, can be considered a current dynasty. That designation is reserved for one team, and that team is clearly Clemson.
Alabama fans may read that cold, hard fact and think, “you’re really going to look stupid for writing that when we win the national championship next year.”
That would be incorrect. Alabama could go undefeated next year and the next year and the next year and the next year, at which point Nick Saban would be the master of yet another historic run. But even that wouldn’t change the fact that as a new decade began, the Alabama dynasty had ended and Clemson’s dynasty was in full force.
Let’s take a look at where each program sits as the final campaign of the decade comes to a close.
Clemson is on a 20-game winning streak. Alabama is on a one-game winning streak after dismantling Michigan in the second half of the Citrus Bowl. By comparison, LSU has won 14 in a row, while Tennessee has somehow pieced together six straight wins since losing to Alabama.
The last time Clemson and Alabama faced off against each other the Tigers delivered a convincing 34-16 win. That started a three-game Alabama losing streak against Tigers (Clemson, LSU and Auburn).
Clemson just dominated a weak ACC. Alabama failed to reach the SEC Championship Game.
Alabama, for the first time, had two players skip its bowl game simply because they decided to quit on their team and their program. Everybody at Clemson was dialed in for another playoff run.
Clemson just finished the Early Signing Period with the No. 1 recruiting class in the country for the first time ever. Alabama also had another fabulous class.
Here’s where Alabama fans need to focus their attention. Yes, Clemson is the current college football dynasty, but Alabama is still positioned better than any other program to take away that designation.
Let’s take a look at what makes Alabama one of the best programs in the country and why Las Vegas will have the Tide as one of the betting favorites to win the national crown next season.
Although Alabama did not beat a single ranked team this season, the Tide remained incredibly consistent against lesser opponents. Since Saban got things rolling in Tuscaloosa, the Tide has never lost to a team that isn’t at least close to elite. The last Alabama loss to a non-ranked opponent was the 2007 Iron Bowl. That’s 91 straight wins against non-ranked opponents, which is an NCAA record.
Also, an NCAA record is the Tide’s current streak of being ranked No. 1 in the country at some point during each of the last 12 seasons. The second-longest streak ever is seven years, established by Miami from 1986 – 1992. Alabama won’t open the 2020 season on top, so there will be work to do to extend that streak. But there’s every reason to believe the Tide could get back there at some point during the season. Early matchups against Southern Cal and Georgia could give the Tide a boost that wasn’t possible in 2019.
There were exactly two great quarterback prospects in the high school Class of 2020, both from the state of California. One is headed to Clemson, while the other will play for Alabama. Alabama will have a lot of options at quarterback in 2020, but it’s only a matter of time before Bryce Young becomes the face of the Alabama program.
It’s hard to imagine that any college football program could win 11 or more games in nine straight seasons. It’s just as mind-numbing to think a program could win 150 games over 12 seasons (an average of 12.5 wins per year for more than a decade). But that’s exactly where Alabama sits as a new decade begins.
Alabama’s star-studded roster and the fact that Saban is still going strong would indicate that the winning could continue for a while.
Who knows, with a couple of breaks, the Tide might even overtake Clemson to again become college football’s reigning dynasty.
Randy Kennedy, who has been a leading voice on the Gulf Coast sports scene for 17 years, writes a weekly column for Lagniappe. Follow him on Twitter: @kennedy_randy.
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