"Bear Bryant is dead and you need to move on and accept you'll never be "Alabama" again."
First, I know there will never be another Bear Bryant. No coach will ever attain the mythical nature of the Bear or affect the game and the way it's played like he did. It's just flat impossible. That being said, it is not unreasonable to expect Alabama to hire a coach/coaching staff that can produce similar results. There are plenty of coaches in the modern game that are building juggernaut programs that are always competitive in their conference and perpetually in the hunt for a national title. Let's take a look at a few examples, starting with one of our own favorites:
Stallings began his coaching tenure at Alabama in 1990. He posted a 7-5 record that year before posting five 10+ win seasons (including four straight), a conference and national title in '92, and owning the Western Division during his tenure. The biggest knock on his record is that he was perpetually bested in the conference championship by...
Spurrier also began his tenure in the SEC in 1990. He went 9-2 that season before winning the conference the following season and posting a 10-2 mark. He would go on to capture the conference title five more times while also winning the national title and playing for another. During his stay in Gainesville, the Gators stayed at 9+ wins every season. Spurrier's return to the SEC hasn't been quite as successful as his initial run, but it's a testament to his coaching abilities that he has a perpetually lousy team like South Carolina heading to bowl games and competitive in conference play.
Richt took the reigns at UGA in 2001 and in that time has posted a 52-13 record. In his first season he went 8-4, and then followed that up with 13-1 conference winning record. This season looks to be only the second year in which his Bulldogs will drop below 10 wins.
Beginning in 1998, Brown has made the Longhorns one of the best teams in the nation. For three straight years he posted 9 win seasons before getting over the hump in 2001 by going 11-2. Since then his teams haven't dropped below 10 wins, and he ran the table last season to capture a national title. The only serious knock I can make on Brown's record is his losing record to rival Oklahoma.
Speaking of OU, Stoops took over in 1999 and has posted a 75-16 record. In his first season, the Sooners went 7-5 before running the table in 2000 and capturing a national title. The next three seasons saw the Sooners posting 11+ win seasons and playing for two more national titles. The 2005 season saw a drop when the Sooners lost Heisman winning QB Jason White to graduation and star RB Adrian Peterson to injury, but still managed an 8-4 record and a win over a quality Oregon team in the Holiday Bowl. Special mention should also be made that returning QB Rhett Bomar was kicked off the team when it was discovered he was violating NCAA rules shortly before the start of the season, and the Sooners are one terrible bit of officiating away from being 7-1 with a QB that played wide receiver all last season.
In 2001 Carroll took over the Trojans of Southern Cal, posting a 6-6 record and a bowl loss to Utah. Since then he has gone 11-2 (Pac 10 Co-Champs), 12-1 (Pac 10 and AP National Champs), 13-0 (Pac 10 and BCS National Champs), and 12-1 (Pac 10 Champs and appeared in the BCS title game). Carroll's biggest knock is the Reggie Bush scandal and the growing reputation for possible thuggery among his players.
Since 1995, Carr has posted a 102-34 record at Michigan. He won the national title in his third season by going 12-0 and has either won or shared five conference championships. Last season was a let down, going 7-5, and Carr has posted several seasons winning less than 9, but the Wolverines are undefeated and ranked #2 currently and in the hunt for another national title.
Beamer might not have as many 10+ win seasons as those ahead of him on this list, but he has built a solid program, going 146-79-2, and his teams are always well coached and have a reputation for stingy defenses and stellar special teams play. The biggest knock on Beamer and Va Tech is their heavy reliance on mobile QBs and inevitable failure without one. Also, the human stain that is Marcus Vick doesn't really help their rep.
Saban took over at LSU in 2000, posting an 8-4 record, before going on to win the SEC in 2001 and a national title in 2003. 2004 was a 9-3 year for Saban, who bolted for the NFL after the end of the season. His successor, Les Miles, went 11-2 , won the division, and destroyed Miami in the Peach Bowl with Saban's staff and players the following year.
Kind of a strange choice for this list since North Texas isn't exactly a powerhouse program, but Dickey has built a program that captured three consecutive conference titles (and a share of a fourth) and a 9-4 record in 2003. Unfortunately, last season the Mean Green posted a 2-9 record and are on pace to miss out on a bowl again this season.
In 2001, Meyer took a 2-9 Bowling Green team to 8-3 and followed that up with a 9-3 record in '02. 2003 saw Meyer moving to Utah where he immediately went 10-2 and won the Mountain West Conference. The next season saw his Utes run the table to be the first mid-major to appear in a BCS bowl (a 35-7 prison raping of Pitt in the Fiesta Bowl). He jumped to Florida where the Gators posted a 9-3 mark in his first season, and he has the Gators sitting at 7-1 with a good shot at a conference title and a long shot possibility of appearing in the national title game this year.
As it should be plainly obvious from this list, there are coaches out there that are winning consistently and building programs into national powers, just like Bryant did at Alabama. With every coach since Bryant winning 10+ by their third season, it's not hard to see why Bama fans expect to be the dominant program we once were again. So I don't want to hear any more crap about how we should accept mediocrity and hope for a good run every few seasons because Bear Bryant is dead. It's possible in the modern era to be a dominant program every season, and all we need is the right coach and staff to do so.