The disappointing conclusion to the Crimson Tide’s season hardly diminished the feeling that the program is still rolling. Even though Alabama couldn’t outlast star quarterback Deshaun Watson and Clemson in Tampa, its run to the championship game amounted to a statement of continuity. The pieces will change from year to year, and offensive coordinators may come and go, but the Crimson Tide are going to keep winning big as long as Nick Saban is calling the shots in Tuscaloosa.
They entered 2016 with seven draftees and a starting quarterback to replace, but it quickly became clear that Alabama was well equipped to chase college football’s top prize again after claiming it the previous season. The trampling of USC in Week 1, the smooth ride through the SEC and throttling of the Gators in the conference championship game cemented the Crimson Tide’s position atop the Power 5 food chain. As other SEC programs stumbled around it, Alabama devoured everything in its path. It took one of the greatest players ever, Watson, delivering an epic performance to deny Saban his sixth championship ring (four of which have come with the Crimson Tide, one with LSU).
Alabama will have to account for more NFL-related departures and major offensive coaching staff turnover this off-season, but you can count on it entering the fall at or near the top of the polls and every power rating before embarking on another run to the playoff.