I hope Alabama fans know just how well they’ve got it.
In the debate for greatest college football head coach of all time, both names at the top did (have done) a majority of their damage in Tuscaloosa, a city whose font size on a map is bigger than Milledgeville but smaller than Atlanta. Tuscaloosa is because the University of Alabama is, and the most talented players in the country flock there simply to play under the best and compete for championships. Just how well are things going in Tuscaloosa as of late? Alabama now owns half of the college football national championships over the last 12 years.
Both Bear Bryant and Nick Saban are excellent at making good on their promises to recruits. Following Monday night’s ‘Bama win, Saban passed Bryant for most national championships by a college football head coach with seven. All six of Bryant’s came with the Crimson Tide while Saban earned one in Baton Rouge before joining Alabama in 2007.
I’m not going to waste time making my case for which one is greater than the other for one key reason — they coached in two entirely different eras of college football. Similarly, I have qualms with comparing players from different eras as well. Yes, Tom Brady has won more Super Bowls than Joe Montana, but was Tom playing during a time when it was perfectly legal to physically mug a receiver while he’s running a route. I don’t think so. Bryant served in T-town for a quarter of a century beginning in 1958. He didn’t exactly have to deal with daily media requests or having players posting inappropriate things on social media. Not saying that made his job any easier than Saban’s either, just different. Bryant also did not have access to nearly the amount of research or resources today’s coaches are afforded.
Not many were surprised by what they saw Monday when ‘Bama blasted unworthy Ohio State. If you can’t win a National Championship when you have the winners of the Heisman, Davey O’Brien Award (best QB) and Doak Walker Award (best RB) all on the same team, there’s something wrong with that picture. You can go back and forth all you want about whether the coach makes the player or vice versa, but it’s just going to turn into one of those shouting matches that’s become all too prevalent on ESPN.
Back to my point about not being surprised, I conducted a little experiment just prior to Monday’s College Football Playoff Championship. I asked social media friends and followers to give their predictions on how the game would go, winner and final score. Fifteen responses came in, and all but one picked the Crimson Tide. What’s more, over half of those who went with ‘Bama had them winning by two scores or more. That’s confidence.
I wooed potential submitters by offering a prize, a mention in this here column. Top marks go to John Milledge Academy cheerleading coach Doug Stephens, a guy who clearly knows a thing or two about the game on the field as well as how to get fans cheering off of it. One other guesser was closer, but his prediction did not come in until over an hour after kickoff. Come on now. Congratulations Doug, if you did not feel like you “made it” by leading JMA competition cheerleading to five state championships, you certainly have now.