Love him or hate him, Nick Saban owns the SEC and the other coaches and teams are renting space in his house. There is no other coach who continues to produce winners year after year and dominates the conference and college football. Not Ohio State, not Florida State, not Oklahoma. No program can match Alabama’s success since Saban set foot on campus in Tuscaloosa. And before that, after a quick cup of coffee in Miami with the Dolphins, LSU knew the power of Saban with his own brand of football in the bayou.
The 45-40 win proved Saban’s brilliance and claimed a fourth national title in seven years for the program. Now, with many questions about the program just hours after a huge win over Clemson, all Saban will do is preach the same kind of football that has gotten him to this point.
Steve Spurrier used to be the standard by which all other coaches worked to become – now they all want to be like the stone cold leader of the Tide.
If you were to ask him, Saban does want anything to do with the comparisons to the late, great Paul “Bear” Bryant, but they are inevitable. Two icons in different generations setting a standard that has been hard to tear down. Alabama did it in 2013. Ohio State took care of it in 2014. Losing to the Buckeyes in the semi-final game last year put a renewed focus on the team. Yet, there was still something missing.
This year, the year with a Heisman Trophy winner in the backfield and a defense that looked better than Saban’s teams in 2009 and 2001, there was no doubt this team was set for destiny. A loss to Ole Miss was a minor hiccup, possibly the wakeup call the program needed.
In the end, victory wore crimson and silver.
Alabama could have five first round draft picks in the April NFL Draft. Defense has been the team’s calling card for the majority of the season, and because of that four defenders could be snatched in the first 20 picks. The fifth is Derrick Henry, whose star may never be as bright as it is now, should make the move to forego his final year and school and declare for the Draft. Where he is drafted is anyone’s guess. But with a need for most teams to find a more substantial running game, Henry could hear his name at the back end of the first round.
A night where he rushed for 158 yards and three touchdowns proves he has done everything on the college level and it’s time to move on.
COKER IS A STAR
This is the second straight game there Jacob Coker proved he can be a major weapon in the Crimson Tide offense. The transfer from FSU has shown lately he can be an effective leader and is precise in his passing game. The 335 and two touchdowns showed he took his time, especially in the second half and challenged the Tigers defense. Tight end OJ Howard helped his cause with five catches for 208 yards and two scores. There was balance in the Alabama offense against a good Clemson defense.
WATSON SHOWS HE IS A BIG TIME TALENT
This is the first game I really watched Deshaun Watson play football. The defense has been a big hit in Clemson, but there is a reason Watson was a Heisman finalist. He threw for 408 yards and four touchdowns, but also ran for 73 yards against Alabama’s vaunted front seven.
That’s a win for the Clemson quarterback. This is one of those games like the 2005 Rose Bowl between USC and Texas. Both teams left it all on the field.
Clemson and Watson will be back next year. Despite Mackensie Alexander and Shaq Lawson turning pro, this is a team built for the long haul and Clemson has arrived as one of the premiere programs in college football. Despite all the talk about ACC vs. SEC, this was the best game college football could have asked for and the CFP committee got it right on the money in 2015.