Enjoy a few months away from Alabama

The Alabama Crimson Tide are playing a football game tonight, which means…well, absolutely nothing.

Don’t be cruel.

That’s how things work in Tuscaloosa.

The SEC championship is out of reach. All hope of a place in the College Football Playoffs is gone. That means Bama hasn’t stood a chance of winning his seventh national title since Nick Saban arrived 15 years ago.

Which, of course, means the season for the tide is practically over.

How significant is this for the greatest dynasty in college football history?

One has to go back to November 13, 2010, when Alabama last played a regular-season game without affecting the national championship race.

Since that day more than a dozen years ago, The Tide has hoarded five national titles, finished runners-up three more times and lost in the semifinals in the first year of the playoffs. In the other two seasons, painful losses to rivals Auburn in the regular-season finals saw Bama eliminated from the title race.

With two losses – gasp! — Already this season, Alabama will be racing onto the field at Bryant-Denny Stadium to beat Austin Peay, relying on motivational goals generally reserved for the common man.

Things like pride and a better bowl bid.

“We still have goals that we want to achieve,” emphasized linebacker Jalen Moody, without naming them. “We have to go out there and prepare every day so we can go out the way we came in. We can’t win a championship now, but we still have to go the right way.”

Alabama’s departure is good news for the rest of the nation, who were tired of spending most of each January watching Saban’s behemoth win or at least fight for championships.

Then again, it seems like a good time to add some perspective to what an amazing run this has been for the Tide:

• The last time Alabama played a meaningless regular season game, fellow SEC coaches Steve Spurrier, Urban Meyer, Mark Richt, Gene Chizik, Les Miles, Bobby Petrino, Houston Nutt, Dan Mullen, Joker Phillips, Derek Dooley and Saban were Robbie Caldwell. Texas A&M and Missouri coaches need no mention; Those schools were two seasons away from joining the SEC.

• The last time Alabama played a meaningless regular-season game, Barack Obama was nearing the halfway point in his first term.

• The last time Alabama played a meaningless game in the regular season, the Miami Heat’s “Big Three” – LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh – started sluggishly 5-4 in their first season together.

• The last time Alabama played a meaningless regular-season game, people were still using BlackBerry phones, calling a cab when they needed a ride, reading a newspaper to find out what was going on in the world, and shopping in so-called shopping centers one.

• The last time Alabama played a meaningless regular-season game, Tom Brady was a 33-year-old kid and the Buffalo Bills were 8-0 at halftime in the NFL season.

• The last time Alabama played a meaningless regular-season game, Ke$ha had the #1 song in the country with “We R Who We R” and “Megamind” was the highest-grossing movie.

• The last time Alabama played a meaningless regular-season game, most of us had never heard of Elon Musk.

Some are wondering — hope is perhaps a better word — that this slight drop in a season is a sign that Saban’s control of the game is waning.

He just turned 71. Nothing is forever.

Sorry, that’s just wishful thinking. While it was undoubtedly a disappointing season by Alabama standards, the two losses came from a last-second field goal in Tennessee and a two-point conversion at LSU in overtime.

The Tide is just four points away from going unbeaten and is back in the thick of it. In 2023, there’s no reason to believe the school won’t be one of the leading contenders for the title again.

For now, Alabama has next week’s regular season finale — the Iron Bowl vs. Auburn — to stoke its competitive fire.

Depending on how things play out, The Tide could end up in a Major Bowl, although it’s hard to imagine future NFL players like quarterback Bryce Young and linebacker Will Anderson risking injury to play in a postseason game, that doesn’t really matter.

“To play this game for what we want to achieve, what we want to do, to restore the identity that we want in Alabama football,” Saban said. “That’s what we’re going to try to finish and do and it will be interesting to see how the players decide to do that.”

Never bet against Nick Saban.

Just enjoy this rare chance to spend the next few months without him.

photo Alabama head coach Nick Saban speaks with an official during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Mississippi in Oxford, Mississippi Saturday November 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)
photo Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) runs with the ball in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Mississippi in Oxford, Mississippi, Saturday November 12, 2022. Alabama won 30-24. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)
photo Alabama head coach Nick Saban, center, leaves the field after an NCAA vs. LSU college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman)
photo Alabama wide receiver Jermaine Burton reacts after a touchdown in the first half of an NCAA vs. Mississippi college football game in Oxford, Mississippi, Saturday, November 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)
photo Alabama tight end Cameron Latu (81) points to the sideline before a play in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Mississippi in Oxford, Mississippi, Saturday, November 12, 2022. Alabama won 30-24. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)
photo Mississippi wide receiver Malik Heath catches a pass past Alabama defenseman DeMarcco Hellams (2) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Oxford, Mississippi, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022. Alabama won 30-24. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)
photo Alabama head coach Nick Saban reacts to a play during the first half of an NCAA college football game against LSU in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, November 5, 2022. LSU won 32-31 in overtime. (AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman)
photo Alabama quarterback Bryce Young targets Mississippi in the first half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, November 12, 2022 in Oxford, Mississippi. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)
photo Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs (1) fends off Mississippi’s Otis Reese (3) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Oxford, Mississippi, Saturday, November 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)

Source