Count on Nick Saban to use Georgia loss to push Alabama’s dynasty forward next season

INDIANAPOLIS – No. 1 Alabama fell a fourth short in their bid for a seventh national championship under coach Nick Saban.

No. 3 Georgia scored 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter in a 33-18 victory in the 2022 College Football Playoffs championship at Lucas Oil Stadium on Monday. Saban, who has guided Crimson Tide to six championship game appearances in eight seasons, used that as an opportunity to express his own talking points.

Saban, who will turn 71 next season, is already laying the groundwork for another national championship race in 2022. In other words, this show is not over, even if the fall is what everyone anticipates.

Two of the most popular contemporary television series are “Succession” and “Yellowstone,” and both detail the struggle of a wealthy family to protect their wealth. It is seductive television because it makes the viewer feel empathy for the “rich” despite their flaws. On the college football landscape, Alabama is WayStar RoyCo at Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. In this sense, Saban can play the role of Logan Roy or John Dutton.

The difference is that Saban is a real-life success story, and that became box office sports entertainment on Monday. Alabama (13-2) fell short in their bid for back-to-back championships, and Saban took that opportunity to praise his team despite the loss.

“They are a great group of winners,” Saban said. “They won by going out this year. They came from behind and won close games to get a chance to play in this game. I feel really bad that we didn’t finish the game better than in the fourth quarter.”

Saban also congratulated his protégé. Former Alabama assistant Kirby Smart, who was with Saban in four of those national championships as defensive coordinator between 2008 and 2015, led No. 3 Georgia (14-1) to his first national championship since 1980.

“I love Kirby,” Saban said. “I think Kirby has a lot of respect for us. He did a great job for us for a long time. If we were to lose a national championship, I’d rather lose one to one of the former assistants who certainly did a great job.” I work for us. “

Saban also made no excuses for losing star catcher Jameson Williams, who left the game with a knee injury after a 40-yard reception in the second quarter. Alabama already lost John Metchie III, its other 1,000-yard receiver, to a torn ACL in the SEC championship game on Dec. 4. Saban didn’t use Williams to promote a win-at-all-cost mentality.

“He has a knee injury,” Saban said. “We won’t know the extent of the knee injury until we have an MRI. In fact, he wanted to play in the second half and the medical staff wouldn’t let him, which I think was smart because he has a future as a soccer player.” . player.”

Then Saban, who was flanked by Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young and All-American linebacker Will Anderson, drew the ending sequence for the returning stars to hear. Alabama trailed 26-18 in the final two minutes with a chance to tie before Kelee Ringo’s 79-yard interception kicked off Georgia’s celebration with 54 seconds remaining.

“That’s what happened,” Saban said. “I guess you saw the game, but that’s really what happened. That’s what it felt like. That’s what Will felt and that’s what Bryce felt, who feel so bad that they couldn’t do better to try not to let that happen. “

Saban made sure to highlight those team leaders before stepping off the podium, saying, “They are not defined by a game.” Young hit 35 of 57 passes for 369 yards and a touchdown, but the two interceptions in the second half were part of Georgia’s comeback story. Anderson had four tackles. Those two have become a kind of clones of Saban.

“We didn’t execute,” Young said. “At the end of the day, that’s up to me. For us, not finishing the units the way we want, it’s just not running.”

“Nobody lowered their head,” Anderson added. “It was the same with the Auburn game and this whole year, everyone has been very positive,” Anderson said. “It took us a while to get to the level of Alabama.”

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That standard will not change in 2022, even in an environment that will challenge Saban’s continued ability to adapt.

The transfer portal has also helped Alabama. He handed over Ohio State’s Williams and Tennessee’s linebacker Henry To’o To’o this season. Williams was an All-American by consensus and To’o To’o led Crimson Tide in tackles. LSU cornerback Eli Ricks, a first-year All-American in 2020, and Georgia Tech’s Jahmyr Gibbs, who had 1,216 yards from scrimmage this year, are on track for 2022.

Saban made his most pointed comments at the CFP championship press conference on Sunday on the subject of Name, Image and Likeness.

“I think what’s a bit concerning is how you use that to get players to decide which school they will go to, because I don’t think that was the intention,” Saban said. “I don’t think that’s the intention of the NCAA.”

Saban doesn’t say something like that unless it carries an underlying message. After all, Alabama has had the highest recruiting class according to nine times since 2010. Crimson Tide’s lowest class ranking in that stretch is No. 5.

“I think we probably need some kind of national legislation to control that to some degree, because I think there will be an imbalance relative to who can dominate college football if that is not regulated in some way or way,” he said.

This could be construed as Bitter Grapes or Saban protecting that top-tier pipeline to Tuscaloosa, but there is more to it than that. Saban isn’t talking about another school taking Alabama’s place. He’s talking about Alabama keeping its place in the pecking order.

Monday was a reminder that Crimson Tide can do all of that and still find the best team. Alabama lost 42-35 to Ohio State in the 2014 college football playoff semifinals. Crimson Tide lost CFP championship games to Clemson in 2016 and 2018. Alabama was back on top two years after each of those defeats, but Georgia is a suitable foe for years to come given its recruiting success under Smart. After Monday’s PFC committee meetings, the playoff expansion is not imminent and Saban’s contract runs through 2028-29.

“Yellowstone” and “Succession” might not be must-see TV shows by then, but Alabama will be on the hunt for the national championship while Saban is on the sidelines. After all, the Saban era began in 2007, when “The Sopranos” was in its final season. We still don’t really know what happened to Tony Soprano, but Saban, again, is real life.

We know what to expect now. “The Process” begins again.

“Congratulations to Georgia for the job they did, but no one can take the SEC Championship from this team, the Cotton Bowl championship,” Saban said. “I am extremely proud of everything this team had to overcome to get to this position and have a chance to win the national championship. We just didn’t finish the way we needed to.”