Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Tide struggles through 2010


Coming into the 2010 season off a national championship with an offense almost identical and a defense that still showed potential, this Alabama football team was expected to do more beyond a 9-3 season.

Back in July when head coach Nick Saban took the podium as the first speaker at the 2010 SEC Media Days, he spoke loud and clear when he said this team would not be looking back to last season. He said the 2010 team had not proven anything. The 2009 team earned the title, but this group was a separate team and should be treated as such.

“Last year was a great part of Alabama tradition, certainly an indelible part of Alabama football history,” Saban said at Media Days. “But last year is basically over. You know, we’re not really defending a championship. I’m sure somebody is going to ask me, ‘How are you going to defend this championship?’ The championship’s a part of history, and we’re not going to defend anything.”

Regardless, Alabama came into the season ranked No. 1 in the AP Top 25, returning most of its offensive starters, including its quarterback and Heisman-winning running back. The media predicted the Crimson Tide to make a return trip to Atlanta for the Southeastern Conference championship. Perhaps the Tide could even make a case for championship title No. 14.

With such talk surrounding this team, it would be enough for them to lose their focus on what it would actually take to make such talk a reality.

“Look at the preseason, look at the ESPN All-Access special, look at the ‘Nick Saban: Gamechanger’ movie, look at the preseason ranking No. 1,” said Kevin Scarbinsky, a writer for The Birmingham News. “Everybody was telling them how good they were.

“Many people, including myself, picked them early on to repeat as national champions. It’s easy to say don’t listen to that. It’s easy to say you haven’t accomplished anything, or this team hasn’t accomplished anything, but when the whole world is telling you how good you are, you have a tendency to believe it even before you’ve actually achieved it.”

So then what happened to this squad that was almost destined to do everything all over again?

Scarbinsky said one of the most tangible reasons was the fact that the defense was so young. Having lost almost all of its starters to the NFL draft, it was a new set of players that needed to step up in a conference known for its defensive superiority.

An intangible matter, Scarbinsky said, was the fact that this team didn’t have quite the same chemistry and leadership as last year’s team.

“Even though they had a lot of the same guys back on offense, they never seemed to have that same chemistry as that ’09 team,” he said.

After the heart breaking 28-27 loss last Friday to Auburn, Saban said in the post-game press conference a big part of the team’s problem was learning to play a full 60-minute game.

“I’m pleased with the progress that we’ve made, but we didn’t finish the game today,” he said. “When you play against good teams, you’re going to have to play for 60 minutes. There’s a lot of lessons to be learned in how important finishing is and continuing to do things correctly. There’s a lot to learn about how you ensure success.”

As with the end of any regular season, there’s always hope for what will come in the season to follow. Though Alabama will potentially lose key starters on offense, the defense will be older and more capable next season.

“There will be some definite transition,” Scarbinsky said. “But the bottom line is that they’re not going to be lacking talent. They won’t just fall off to 7-5 or 6-6. The question becomes, will they be an 8-4, 9-3 team, or will they be an 11-1, 12-0 team? It’s hard to predict right now based on what they might lose.”

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