Everyone loves a winner. But a dynasty? Not so much.
Tom Brady and the reign of the Patriots – hated.
The New York Yankees of multiple eras – despised.
UConn women’s basketball – enough already.
Then there is Alabama football. The Crimson Tide is on an unprecedented run of success, winning six of its 18 total national titles in the past 12 seasons. Throw in three Heisman Trophy winners, a gaudy number of NFL first-round picks and top-ranked recruiting classes year after year, and it all adds up to one thing - Bama fatigue.
“Most people would tell you that Alabama’s dominance, which is a big part of the lack of parity in college football the last 10 years, is not good for college football,” said Sports Illustrated college football writer Ross Dellenger. “They would tell you they want more parity and a more diverse group of teams in the playoffs.”
Alabama has earned spots in six of the seven College Football Playoffs, played in five title games and won three. Before that, Alabama won three BCS championships in four years, which ironically pushed college football to implement the playoff system for more parity.
All that did was give Alabama a better opportunity to make the postseason. But it also made the rest of the SEC stronger.
“Having a dominant team can be looked at as a positive because everyone is chasing that team,” Dellenger said. “In every sport you have some kind of dynasty or dominant team that everyone is trying to knock off.”
Alabama’s dominance forced the rest of the league to get its act together. And it did. LSU won the title in 2019, Georgia met Alabama in the 2017 title game, and Auburn’s played for a national title twice in the last 11 years.
“You look at why the SEC is successful and dominant, which is why college football doesn’t have much parity,” Dellenger said. “You look at recruiting and the recruiting footprint of the SEC, and the 11-state footprint has produced 60% of the five-star prospects in the last 10 years. The other 39 states have produced 40%. That’s a pretty telling stat.”
But they are all still chasing Alabama. And the gap is widening. The Crimson Tide rode roughshod over its SEC opponents last season, and several of its rivalry games were blowouts. That’s been the case for several years under Nick Saban.
From the 2009 season Alabama has won 101 games by 20 or more points and 61 by 30 or more points, with an overall record of 153-15.
“What's boring to me are blowout games, even if it's against a big rival like Auburn or LSU,” said Crimson Tide fan Cathy Newman, a biology professor at Louisiana-Monroe. “Games with a very lopsided score just don't keep my attention. Competitive games that are still close in the fourth quarter are the most fun to watch.”
The blowout wins, national titles and all the individual accolades are a byproduct of several things, but mostly one big name.
“It’s a perfect storm at Alabama,” Dellenger said. “It has a history of success and the richest tradition in college football. Because of that tradition you have a lot of passion for football so you have a lot of resources that pour into football. Then you have maybe the greatest coach – certainly the greatest CEO-type, recruiter-type, defensive mind in college football history.”
This summer, Alabama’s playoff road was well on its way to being a slam dunk.
A serious push was made to expand the playoff to 12 teams, and heading toward approval. It was proposed the six highest-ranked conference champions would earn a playoff spot with the six highest ranked at-large teams. That would make Alabama’s chances for a playoff spot almost inevitable.
You know what happened next. Chaos.
Oklahoma and Texas stunned the college football world by jumping ship from the Big 12 to the SEC, which pumped the brakes on the 12-team playoff push.
The addition of the Sooners and Longhorns makes an already strong conference stronger, and adds a potential stumbling block in the Crimson Tide’s path toward more national titles.
“When you look at Texas and Oklahoma and the resources there you would think they would give Alabama and the other SEC teams trouble,” Dellenger said. “They are in a recruiting hotbed, they have the history and tradition and the resources. They have the recipe that Alabama has. You would think they would make it more difficult for Alabama and their playoff path.”
The national title path may be a little more difficult for Alabama, but for some Crimson Tide fans it never grows tiresome.
“It’s been anything but boring,” said longtime Alabama fan Lula Creitz Todd of Tuscaloosa. “I’ve enjoyed the games so much and have grown to love and respect coach Saban. Watching him grow into an engaged and hugely involved member of this community has been so good.
“And shoot, you never know when Auburn or Mississippi State is going to stop us cold...it happens.”