Just A Minute: Alabama is Dangerously Close to Having a Lost Season

Christopher Walsh

Before Nick Saban arrived at Alabama in 2007, the Crimson Tide’s individual honors on a national level were few and far between.

No one had won a Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award or Walter Camp Award for player of the year, nor a Chuck Bendarik or Bronko Naguski trophy for defensive player of the year.

Of the 25 major college football awards that ESPN.com lists on its awards page, just five had been won by a Crimson Tide player.

A decade later the reverse was true. There were only five awards an Alabama player had never won: Davey O’Brien (quarterback), John Mackey (tight end), Lou Groza (kicker), Ray Guy (punter) and Paul Hornung (most versatile), which had only been around since 2010.

Alabama had won so many trophies during that for years the display cases on the second floor of the Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility were seemingly in a constant state of expansion. When the workers finished and had everything just the way they wanted someone would win another one.

Talk about a good problem to have. 

Prior to the start of the 2018 season, Alabama opened up a new recruiting area in the Mal Moore Athletic Center, with one long wall dedicated national honors. Much like the way a lot of college football programs have a display with NFL helmets, and each player from the program who once played for that team listed, Alabama had trophies with all of its winners.

They included:

  • Heisman Trophy (outstanding player): Mark Ingram Jr. (2009), Derrick Henry (2015)
  • Maxwell Award (outstanding player): AJ McCarron (2013), Derrick Henry (2015); Tua Tagovailoa (2018)
  • Walter Camp Award (player of the year): Derrick Henry (2015), Tua Tagovailoa (2018)
  • Doak Walker Award (running back): Trent Richardson (2011); Derrick Henry (2015)
  • Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award (outstanding senior quarterback): AJ McCarron (2013)
  • Fred Biletnikoff Award (receiver): Amari Cooper (2014); Jerry Jeudy (2018)
  • Outland Trophy (interior lineman): Andre Smith (2008); Barrett Jones (2011), Cam Robinson (2016); Quinnen Williams (2018)
  • Chuck Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year): Jonathan Allen (2016), Minkah Fitzpatrick (2017).
  • Bronko Nagurski Award (defensive player of the year): Jonathan Allen (2016)
  • Dick Butkus Award (linebacker): Rolando McClain (2009), C.J. Mosley (2013), Reuben Foster (2016)
  • Jim Thorpe Award (defensive back): Minkah Fitzpatrick (2017)
  • Rotary Lombardi Award (lineman): Jonathan Allen (2016)
  • Ted Hendricks Award (defensive end): Jonathan Allen (2016)
  • Rimington Trophy (center): Barrett Jones (2012), Ryan Kelly (2015)
  • Campbell Trophy (top scholar-athlete): Barrett Jones (2012)
  • Wuerffel Trophy (community service): Barrett Jones (2011)

Add the Joe Moore Award for best offensive line in 2015 and one could take all of the trophies and play a game of checkers on a very, very large board (especially since the Moore weighs approximately 350 pounds. It takes an offensive line to move).

Throw in some coaching honors and the Disney Spirit Award for overcoming adversity following the 2011 tornado and you’d have enough pieces to play chess.

That’s unparalleled in college football history.

The reason why I bring this up is because earlier this week the finalists were named for most of the major awards, the ones that will be handed out during the Home Depot College Football Awards on Dec. 12. Not a single Alabama player was listed.

The two strongest contenders Alabama had were Xavier McKinney for the Thorpe Award for best defensive back, and DeVonta Smith for the Biletnikoff Award – although you could still make a strong argument that even though his numbers don’t show it reigning winner Jerry Jeudy is still the best receiver in college football.

This could be the first year since 2010 that Alabama doesn’t have a major award winner, which quite honestly reflects how this has sort of turned into a lost season for the Crimson Tide.

With a loss at Auburn not only will it be the first time since then that Alabama has had two regular-season defeats in one year, but the Crimson Tide won’t be in the College Football Playoff.

For most Alabama fans hearing for a whole year about losing to Auburn will be the worst part of it, but that’s something for another day.

Injuries are obviously playing a huge part in this year’s issues, yet go back to the beginning of the season and the draft hype surrounding the Crimson Tide. There was talk that Alabama had 10-plus players who were potential first-round NFL draft picks. Those are the players who need to step up the most this weekend. 

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