Want to know what a post-Saban Alabama Crimson Tide might look like?
This tweet says all you need to know. Kevin Scarbinsky tweeted, “Mark McMillian on Smashmouth: Dabo Sweeney texts me, says Roll Tiger. He’s a Bama guy. When Saban retires, lot of alumni will push for Dabo.”
The future of Alabama football could be an internecine struggle between factions wanting their own candidate.
Does that sound familiar? It should. It has been how every single coaching search in the post-Bear Bryant era has unfolded.
Factions have wanted everyone from Rick Neuheisel to Jackie Sherrill to Mike Dubose when job openings have occurred.
And the track record has left much to be desired.
Alabama’s post-Bryant coaches have included the competent Ray Perkins, the inept Bill Curry, the sounds like Bryant Gene Stallings, the joke Mike DuBose, the coward Dennis Franchione and the clueless Mike Shula and that is not even counting the horny Mike Price.
Each coach came to power in a unique circumstance with a unique claim to power. The most instructive of these is the DuBose fiasco.
Mike DuBose was elected the head football coach at Alabama by the insistence of a large majority of Alabama alums and fans. The fax campaign intimidated the athletic department leadership. OK, leadership is too strong a word for anything lead by Bob Bockrath. But, the point remains that the majority of fans selected DuBose.
In this case, Vox Populi was not Vox Dei. It was more Vox Idiota.
There were other candidates with support when DuBose won the job.
It was during this time a faction of Alabama alums wanted Neuheisel. The thinking was that an innovative offensive thinker with youth and energy would invigorate the Alabama brand.
Would Neuheisel have worked out any better at Alabama than DuBose?
It is hard to imagine anyone failing as spectacularly as DuBose.
Whatever the possibilities, the outcome was one faction winning while other factions were left irritated. Disappointment has been the most common result of an Alabama coaching search. When names like Jackie Sherrill or Howard Schnellenberger or Bobby Bowden are mentioned, but you end up with Bill Curry and Gene Stallings (who at the time had a losing record as a head football coach), there is going to be profound anger.
If a candidate like Curry or DuBose is named a coach there is another problem—a leadership vacuum.
Whatever criticism there is of Ray Perkins and Gene Stallings, at least these men had personalities strong enough to deal with assistant coaches and the chaos of being Alabama’s head coach.
This is Nick Saban’s greatest strength. He is the leader of the organization. No other voice rivals his within the Alabama community. Saban holds people accountable.
Need a roadmap to the DuBose debacle? He never held anyone accountable for anything. This resulted in NCAA troubles and losses on the field.
Alabama must find a coach capable of managing the entire program. While there will not be another Saban, Alabama can find a person who can be successful in Tuscaloosa. This person must be of sufficient stature to squelch the factional griping that inevitably will follow the coaching search.
If there is one thing to take away from that Scarbinsky tweet, it is that factions are already forming to plan the post-Saban era. Because of this, Alabama fans need to begin putting together not only a list of potential names, but more importantly, a list of traits necessary to be a worthy successor to Nick Saban. Otherwise, the next coaching search at Alabama could result in what has happened too often in Alabama’s past.