By Shane from Centerpoint
After watching the Alabama Crimson Tide football team physically whip the Texas Longhorns – the second most talented squad in America – an old, yet familiar air of confidence began to envelope me. You know, that winning attitude every Alabama fan carried like a badge during the seventies, a 10-year era when the “Bear” guided the Tide to 100+ victories and several national championships. Alabama’s final two games this year were truly Bryant-like performances. Like Bryant, Nick Saban has the capability to create a dynasty. In other words, if Saban stays 10 years, the Crimson Empire should enjoy another magical run.
Some might say that Saban and Paul Bryant are total opposites. My opinion is far from that. From a football perspective, I believe they approach the game from the exact same mindset.
Back then Bryant had – and Saban now has – a team nobody wants to play.
The Alabama players in the seventies were bigger, faster, and stronger than everybody they played. Bear had an abundance of quality depth at all positions, with fierce competition for playing time serving as their motivation for achieving excellence. Coach Saban has duplicated every characteristic mentioned above. He’s used high-caliber standards to form a unit that matches every aspect of those Bryant–coached teams.
From the day he arrived on campus, Coach Bryant was successful in creating a winning environment. Nick Saban has done the same.
In fact, Nick has lead Bama to an SEC championship and a national title, while delivering an NCAA record-tying 26 wins in the past two seasons. Thinking Bryant yet?
Additionally, Coach Saban has basically out-coached the entire league for two years. He currently “owns” the two teams that Bryant believed were most important. Tennessee is three games under Saban’s thumb, with Auburn now two games back.
His legacy leaves no doubt that Bear Bryant was one of the best recruiters in college football’s storied history. I have no doubt that Nick Saban will stand beside him on the podium when all is said and done.
By the end of next year reality will inevitably sink in for the rest of the SEC. The Tide has risen back to the “elite” status they enjoyed during the reign of the greatest coach of all time.
Teams like Tennessee, Auburn and LSU are about to return to the back of the bus, where they were accustomed to sitting during the Crimson Tide’s glory years.
Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Arkansas will suffer even more than in the past.
Good teams like Florida will have their championship hopes crushed when they move across divisional lines and face the Tide.
Non-conference competition will dwindle as coaches try to avoid a potential loss that could drop their team in the polls.
Truthfully, SEC programs were neurotic during Bryant’s tenure. In those days many coaches entered the SEC with high hopes and ended up with a moving van in their driveway.
Amazingly, Coach Nick Saban has already forced complete overhauls at Tennessee, Auburn, and Mississippi State. He even made the great Urban Meyer quit! Who’s next? Stay tuned! There will be more to come.
In the midst of his dominant reign, Bear consistently kept conference opponents off–balance by keeping their programs in turmoil. Coach Saban seems to have that same effect.
Actually, Alabama’s legendary championship tradition was created before Paul William Bryant took the job, but he took winning to unprecedented heights in his 25–year career.
Saban, by winning the national crown in his third year, has only scratched the surface of his potential at Alabama. He has the ingredients in place to dominate his competition for the next 4-5 years and I see no change on the horizon.
Sure, Bryant and Saban are two totally different personalities from football eras that are literally worlds apart. Yet, they have one trait that forever links them together as one – winning.
Shane writes a weekly column for the Call News and the Capstone Report.