The best way to describe most of the Alabama crowd inside Bryant-Denny Stadium after the loss to Ole Miss on Saturday night is confused.
Alabama fans are not used to seeing their favorite team get handled the way it was by Ole Miss. They were not sure how to feel. Unfortunately for those Alabama fans, the experience they had in seeing their team pushed around by the Rebels is going to become a lot more familiar by season’s end. In other words, the loss suffered at the hands of Hugh Freeze’s team is not the only defeat the Crimson Tide will collect this season.
This is partly a product of a history that cannot be denied. The SEC has not produced a repeat champion since the 1997-98 seasons. Why would that be any different this year?
If anything, it is even harder to pull off that feat now than it was in the past because, in the current age, every program spends big money on its coaches and gets big exposure from national television. The built-in advantage that Alabama used to have because of its heritage is just a lot less significant than it once was.
In fact, Alabama’s dominance has been eroding somewhat quietly for a while. According to OddsShark.com, the Ole Miss game was the 14th time in the last 19 games that Alabama has failed to cover the spread. What that means is that even though Alabama has been winning, the rest of the SEC — if not the rest of America — has been slowly catching up to them.
Furthermore, most of the stars for Ole Miss in its win over Bama are players that Nick Saban would have loved to have been able to sign, but could not. Tuscaloosa is still a major landing spot for a lot of blue-chip talent, for sure. But more and more often, elite players are deciding they would rather play elsewhere.
This is probably due to the fact that many of Alabama’s biggest rivals have been a lot more willing to embrace the modern style-of-play than Saban has. In games where the Tide has looked the least impressive over the last four seasons, the coaches that have had success against it are guys like Freeze, Gus Malzahn, and Kevin Sumlin — a trio of coaches that share a fondness for a hurry-up offense than Saban openly hates.
The end result is that Alabama is still a program that many should envy, but few should fear.
The Tide will no doubt win its share of games in 2015, but its failings against Ole Miss combined with the recent trends in the SEC suggest it will probably find itself on the losing end far more often than the folks in Tuscaloosa have come to expect.
— Saturday Down South (@SDS) September 20, 2015