For many years, TideFans.com produced an annual feature called "Coaches to Watch," a discover-them-before-your-neighbors-do article identifying up-and-coming mid-major coaches who might one day be candidates at large schools like Alabama. The feature actually predates TideFans.com itself – the first one rolled off the presses following the 1996 season, when TideFans.com was still BamaNation.com and Dennis Franchione, who made the list, did so from his post not at TCU, but rather New Mexico.
Over the same time frame in which Nick Saban has dominated Southeastern Conference football – and if not for Clemson, dominated the entirety of Southern football altogether – only two teams from other conferences have been able to keep pace.
efore we get into a review of Notre Dame's season-as-whole, we'll address the obvious, meaning the two games against Clemson that Notre Dame split: Yes, Notre Dame played the hands-down No. 2 team in the country and beat them once. But if the rest of the season is any indication, no one really knows if the Fighting Irish are really good or not.
The same Covid-19 virus that wrecked TideFans.com's annual previews is going to have an effect on this analysis of the Missouri-Alabama opener, scheduled for Saturday in Columbia, Mo. As Nick Saban often says, it is what it is. Missouri will come into this game down approximately 10 players. That's 7 players held out for Covid protocol, plus two others opting out and a 10th player out with a “traditional” injury. That number could grow or shrink by the end of the week.
As football is often compared to wartime conflicts, and coaching strategy to military maneuvers, there needs to be some kind of martial terminology fit to describe what Alabama football did to the rest of the sport's landscape in 2020. Because when the fog of war finally cleared from its Miami battlefield, it only revealed the same blitzed terrain that had been present in Alabama's twelve other skirmishes. The Crimson Tide had buried Ohio State 52-24 much the same way tanks bury any detritus that is unlucky enough to find itself caught under their treads.
Georgia is coming into town, and while the Bulldogs don't have the kind of dynamic playmaker at quarterback that Ole Miss has in Matt Corral, the Bulldogs have a much better defense, and Alabama likely won't be able to count on matching score for score with the Bullies.
In yet another “2020 thing,” Alabama's matchup with Ole Miss this week depends on the meanderings of a hurricane that some people probably think is named for an airline.
Florida's Kyle Trask and Alabama's Mac Jones share a commonality that goes beyond just the position they play: Neither were ever expected to be playing the position this well, at this level, for these kind of stakes. If Jones' ascension to the position of starting quarterback for Alabama is odd to you, go read up on Trask's path to the job in Florida. Now, these two Clark Kents will be battling to see who comes out looking like ol' Clark's alter ego.
If anyone thought Ed Orgeron was capable of winning a national title and then maintaining an even keel in the years to follow, they simply don't know Ed Orgeron. Keeping up with what has happened at LSU over the last 11 months – no, it hasn't even been a full year yet since LSU was on top of the world, although to many LSU fans it probably feels like a decade already – requires a baseball scorer's book. Or maybe a copy of the board game “Clue.”
While Alabama has certainly had its fair share of bad outcomes against division rivals LSU and Auburn, one of the more underrated matchups every year in the SEC is watching Alabama take on Texas A&M. Former Aggie QB Johnny Manziel made it that way; prior to Manziel arriving, Alabama seemed to dispatch Texas A&M regularly and without a lot of fanfare. Manziel seemed to reset the cosmos in College Station, and subsequent quarterbacks have tried (mostly in vain, admittedly) to follow in his footsteps.