Alabama coach Nick Saban

Alabama football: Working through the stages of grief

Good morning. The Rammer Jammer is a daily rundown of everything you need to know about Alabama athletics, published every weekday morning.

After a day, the dust has somewhat settled on a national championship loss that seemed inconceivable to some, once upon a time. Throughout the country, Alabama fans are working their ways through the stages of grief. From the denial that Clemson deserved to beat Alabama to the anger (or bargaining?) that leads some actual people to actually call for the actual firing of Nick Saban or go full Deontay Wilder on their flatscreen, the offseason is shaping up to be a long one for many of the crimson faithful.

Of course, there are some who, with perspective, have moved straight to the acceptance phase. Those are the ones who know that the season was an historic run, even if it ended one second short of a championship, who know that the best team and champion are not always the same, and who know, most of all, that it’s only one game. Fans like the ones who showed up outside the Mal Moore Complex when the team arrived on Tuesday afternoon.

And players such as Tim Williams, who set to work consoling his teammates minutes after the devastating loss.

These are the rational thinkers — the ones who know that, while blame can be apportioned all around, it’s probably just a little insane to be calling for jobs after a one-score loss in a national championship game to the best player in half a decade. Or who know that calling for the benching of a true freshman quarterback who scored 36 touchdowns on the season, including the potential championship winner when the chips were down, in favor of another true freshman next season might not be the most logical move, even if Clemson didn’t believe in his arm.

I know the wounds from this one will be raw for a while, but the idea that a loss in the championship game invalidates everything positive about this season is just … insane. In fact, if that sounds like you, you sound like the voices who declared Alabama “dead and gone” after losing to Ole Miss last season. Alabama’s not the champion, but it could have been, and it could be next season.

Sometimes football teams — even the great ones — just lose when it counts. It’s time to accept that.


Seatbelt check

The football team wasn’t the only one to let a golden opportunity fade away this week. Alabama’s men’s basketball team had its best victory of the season in its grasp when it led No. 23 Florida at home with seven minutes to play. Then it all came apart, because the offense went silent. Sound familiar?

Alabama had looked like it was on the verge of a breakthrough for the last four games, and it may still be. The tournament still is in play for this team, though less so with each game that passes without a good win. The loss to Florida showcased some of Alabama’s positives — a suffocating defense and a game-changer in Braxton Key — but also some of its gaping holes. When Donta Hall fouled out of the game with five minutes to play, Alabama’s post presence vanished. Its pick and roll and pin-down screen offense stagnated. That, paired with some abysmal decision-making from point guard Dazon Ingram, doomed the Crimson Tide.

Alabama’s got a chance to get back on the horse when it travels to a disappointing LSU team on Saturday. Unfortunately for Avery Johnson’s team, it won’t get the chance to prove itself against top-tier opposition until Feb. 11, when Kentucky comes to town.

Built by Bama

  • A former Alabama cornerback is headed to Ohio State. 
  • Former Alabama tight end Brian Vogler signed a reserve contract with the Atlanta Falcons.
  • Golf Digest has an illuminating feature on Justin Thomas’s length off the tee. 
  • And the Boston Herald ran a story on Dont’a Hightower’s value to the Patriots as a player and a leader.

Comic relief

Jermaine “FunnyMaine” Johnson caps the season in his typically wry style:

Around the Capstone

  • Jordan Lewis was named SEC women’s basketball Freshman of the Week for the third time. That’s the most in program history. No other player has won the award more than once this season.