That’s six for him. Nick Saban won his sixth national title last night and his fifth at Alabama. And let’s get something clear, only Nick Saban wins that game. Not because he’s a wizard of a coach, even though he is. Not because he’s been there before, because he has. But because he’s the only guy in the country who can bench a 25-2 starting quarterback and turn to a 5-star freshman. And a bunch of other five-star freshmen when the starters aren’t getting it done. That’s not to slight him or the process, that’s to tip the cap to the process. Because as much as the process is about winning the moment and doing your job, it’s also about recruiting. And Saban does that as well as anyone ever has.
And the end result, Saban with another title, was the most predictable thing ever after they barely got into the playoffs. As I said back when the four teams were announced, the most Saban thing ever would be to sneak into the tournament and then win the whole damn thing. And they did.
And for much of last night, they really didn’t deserve it. That was the most un-Alabama performance I’ve seen in a long time. Undisciplined. Getting caught with more than 11 men on the field. Roughing the passer. Mental errors by a team that never makes mental errors. And that’s before we get to Mekhi Brown punching a Georgia player, getting flagged, and then getting into it with staffers on the Alabama sideline.
They weren’t just not playing Alabama football, they were unraveling in shocking ways. Completely melting down and getting worked by a true freshman in Jake Fromm. They looked gassed on defense, like they’d run into a better version of themselves, because they had.
But Tua saved them. And changed everything. Tua coming in and playing the way he did makes Nick Saban look like a genius. If he comes in and tosses a couple picks or fumbles a few snaps, we’re not talking about Nick Saban the genius right now, we’re talking about how Saban panicked and went away from his starter when they were only down two scores at halftime. But Tua didn’t do that. Tua made that decision look brilliant. And I know some of you recruiting honks will want to come in here and say that you saw that coming when Tua stepped on the field. Stop it. You didn’t. Nobody did. Maybe not even Saban.
Nobody saw a true freshman dragging a whole team out of the funk of the first half and them putting them in position to win the game in regulation, before a brutal miss from their kicker from 36 yards out. That was rough. Really really rough. Not even close. And you can’t tell me that wasn’t pressure. It was. And I get it.
I was nervous and I was 3,000 miles away and not kicking. I can only imagine the pressure he was feeling being on the field and kicking. Saban’s horrendous history with kicking continues and nearly cost him again. But Tua saved them in overtime.
Can you imagine how furious Saban would’ve been if he lost to a former assistant on a missed kick like that? Answer: extremely.
But because of Tua, that didn’t happen. And because of Tua, now everyone wants to talk about Saban’s titles and his legacy. Either that or talk about how tired they are of talking about Alabama.
I get that. There’s Alabama fatigue. It’s real. But Tua changes that. Because he changed everything. And I don’t care how bitter you are about Nick Saban and his bitterness, or how much you think Nick Saban cheats, if watching Tua do what he did last night doesn’t make you shake your head in amazement, then that’s your problem. And you should probably just stop watching football.
If seeing a freshman come onto the biggest stage and play with absolutely no fear, just throwing lasers all over the place, doesn’t at least make you smile, then you’re a major troll. Because it made Nick Saban smile and that dude never smiles. This is the same guy who complains about winning a national title because it cut into his recruiting time and last night he was practically giddy, declaring “I’ve never been happier in my life. Never!”
That’s the most amazing thing about what Tua did last night, he got Saban to let down the Saban act for a moment and just be a person and a happy person at that. And the bad news for everyone in college football and everyone who’s tired of Nick Saban and Alabama is that Nick Saban and Alabama aren’t tired. You might have Alabama fatigue, but Alabama doesn’t have fatigue.
By all accounts, Saban is as motivated and driven as ever before. And from the looks of the second half, he finally has something he’s never really had before – a star quarterback. Saban probably enjoyed that win for all of five minutes before he started planning for next season. Which means the winning won’t stop and your fatigue won’t end.