We find ourselves, dear friends, in the bleakest of times: Winter. With the return of college football season far, far away.
Yes, it seems like ages since the Alabama Crimson Tide roared past Notre Dame en route to yet another college football national championship--Nick Saban's fourth as a college coach, by the way, which places him in fairly lofty company--and it seems like ages, too, until we'll see the return of our beloved game in August.
But there's nothing we can really do about it, friends. We can only wait--and start thinking about the season to come, even though it's a long, long ways off indeed.
We'll start doing precisely that here, as we kick off our 2013 season preview content with part one of College Football Questions & Answers: The 2013 Preview Edition.
1. Will Alabama win it all ... again?
It's the obvious starting point for any discussion of the 2013 season. Because let's face it: Alabama, and coach Nick Saban, are dominating the college football landscape like no program since, well, I can't recall, really. There were the rowdy Miami teams of the 80s, and the bruising Nebraska squads of the 90s, and there was Florida State's run of dominance under Bobby Bowden, too. But there's something that seems a bit different about these 'Bama teams, and about Saban's leadership of them. For one, there is the fact that the Tide have managed to become dominant while also playing in not only the toughest league in the country, but also the toughest division in the country. All due respect to the 'Canes, Huskers and Seminoles, but that simply wasn't the case in their day, and yes, the fact that Saban has been able to win so much, and so consistently, despite all the challenges he faces on a weekly basis makes his achievement all the more impressive. Now, to the question: Can that success continue in 2013? Well, once again, it won't be easy; gone are such major 2012 contributors as Barrett Jones, Chance Warmack, Robert Lester and others, and it seems more than likely that underclassmen Eddie Lacy (TB), Dee Milner (CB) and D.J. Fluker (RT) will head off to the NFL as well. Losing so much talent would be crippling for most programs, but Alabama isn't most programs, and Saban isn't just any coach.
2. So in other words, they've got a chance?
Yes, they've certainly got a chance--a very, very good one, actually. While Lacy is gone, the fantastically talented T.J. Yeldon--a 1,000-yard rusher in his own right last season--will return, as will quarterback AJ McCarron and wideout Amari Cooper. The defense, meanwhile, should be outstanding once again; Saban has built his career on defense and in many ways built his 'Bama legacy on defense, too. As USA Today recently pointed out, Saban's Tide defense haven't given up more than 14.3 points per game in any season since 2007. That's simply staggering. Almost as staggering, that is, as Saban's relentlessness--his seemingly unyielding drive to win. It's what sets him apart from the rest.
3. So you're saying he's one of the best ever?
Yes. And there's simply no debating that any longer. The facts speak for themselves. Over the course of a career that has seen him coach at Toledo, Michigan State, LSU and Alabama, Saban has compiled a record of 154-55-1. Taking only his LSU and Alabama years into consideration--that's 12 years in the brutal SEC--he's 111-29. Most importantly, there is this: The man has now won four national titles--that's more than Bobby Bowden, more than Joe Paterno, and more than Tom Osborne--and is the only coach in history to win national titles at two different FBS schools. You can make the argument already that this man deserves to be ranked right up there with Fielding Yost, Knute Rockne and Bear Bryant among the all-time greats; and the thing is, he's not done yet. We're witnessing history, folks. My advice would be to simply enjoy it. Even if you happen to be an LSU or Auburn fan.