Let’s address the elephant in the room: the Tuscaloosa community, the Crimson Tide, the Alabama fan base, and the entire fraternity of sports fans and writers lost one of our finest yesterday.
Yes, the death of Cecil Hurt is an important story, so we’ve dedicated an entire story and thread to it over here, as well as our proposal to rename the press box at BDS in Cecil’s memory.
But here, for Gump Day, we will leave you with the words that Nick Saban had about his friend that sum up just about everything that Cecil Hurt was — as a man and a professional.
Earning Nick Saban’s trust is no easy task, and there was nobody in the media that Saban trusted more than Cecil Hurt. pic.twitter.com/STxjaJRDPb— Chris Low (@ClowESPN) November 24, 2021
On to the Gumping!
A record I never thought I would see again has been tied — and as long as Saban is in town, looks to be shattered: With its win over Arkansas, the Tide equaled FSU’s dynastic mark of fourteen straight years with 10-plus wins.
In this era of transfers, NIL, social media, 85-scholarships, and increased parity, that is simply astonishing. We are living witnesses to the greatest dynasty in college football history, and a strong contender for best sports dynasty in American history. Period.
As expected, Alabama lost ground in the CFP rankings last night, as the Tide slipped from No. 2 to No. 3 — as if that has any appreciable meaning for Alabama. The Tide’s road is clear: just keep winning. And, even if it suffers a setback in say the SEC title game, it may be really hard to keep ‘Bama out of the playoffs. That’s just the sort of year it is. (How weird is it? Cincinnati finally cracked the Top 4, the first for a Midmajor team...despite the fact that last year’s Bearcats probably beat this one by 7-10 points).
For Ohio State, the stakes are significantly higher. They’ve dismantled people down the stretch, and have a chance to knock off another Top 10 team this weekend, as well as a Top 12-15 team next Saturday. Might a one-loss Buckeyes squad even conceivably get the nod over a hypothetical undefeated Georgia squad? (I vote they should — the East is a damned disaster).
Yesterday, Josh hit on some counterfactuals re: a two-loss Alabama team making the playoffs. I’ve firmly been in the camp that if you have two losses, without a conference title, let someone else have that spot. But other observers aren’t so sure. If there were any team(s) to test that notion, it would be Alabama and Ohio State this season, with whom it’s hard to make a case that there are four better squads.
But let’s render that speculation moot and make America salty AF. Just keep winning, baby.
Alabama Crimson Tide players have gotten the memo from corporate, this week’s talking point is “we respect Auburn.” That’s particularly true for the local guys, like Brian Robinson (and our own Brent Taylor), who despises The Barn (and you can tell), but sound all the right notes.
There’s no point in giving a janky 6-5 Tigers team locker board material. Only someone as stupid as Arm Puntin’ Bo Nix would play the “Bammer’s Cheatin’” card the week of the Iron Bowl, and hilariously claim that SEC officials are in the tank for UA.
“Just a few of those controversial calls that were in that game raises some questions for sure, unless you’re an Alabama fan. But that’s just part of the game,” Nix said regarding Alabama’s win over Arkansas on Saturday.
“That’s not going to change, no matter what happens.”
Let’s ignore the fact that Alabama is actually in the middle of the pack for opponent penalties and penalty yards this season.
And that alone is a reason to cheer if you’re a UA fan.
Because Alabama consistently ranks in the bottom half of opponent penalties: you’re not getting many flags called on you when you play the Tide. And for four straight years, Alabama was dead last in flags thrown against the opposing team and/or opponent penalty yards
This jackass actually had the gall to say that after the 2019 Iron Bowl, a game he played in. But, sure, Alabama is the team getting the calls.
Not all of those weird Iron Bowl losses can be blamed on Auburn Jesus or officiating, particularly on the road. As Saban said yesterday, Alabama has been its own worst enemy on the Plains.
He won’t say it, but I will — Minimize mistakes, and this game should be a laugher.
That is why Nate Oats is stressing that the goal of the Iona game is improvement and consistency, particularly on defense where the Tide has regressed a good bit from last year’s lockdown crew.
“I think we’ve just gotta continue to get better,” Oats said. “I thought Friday was the first time we’ve put two halves, both sides of the ball, together. We’re gonna have to do the same thing. We can’t pick and choose whether we’re gonna be an offensive or defensive team. If you wanna be an elite team, you’ve gotta play both sides of the ball the entire game.
“Can we get a 40-minute effort out of everybody?”
I expect the defense will improve as the rotation settles in, as everyone better learns their role, and as this practically-rebuilt roster gels and learns to trust one another. Chemistry is the high-almighty in such an unselfish scheme as the one ‘Bama runs.
But the Tide don’t have long to get there, that’s for sure. And the climb is a’might bit steep. Fortunately, Juwan Gary is very close to returning. His energy and defensive hustle have been greatly missed.
The Alabama football team had three players selected to four different finalist lists as awards season enters its final cycle before the College Football Awards Show on Thursday, Dec. 9.
The Crimson Tide’s list of finalists includes outside linebacker Will Anderson (Bednarik), wide receiver Jameson Williams (Biletnikoff) and quarterback Bryce Young (O’Brien, Maxwell).
This just seems really weird: An already-crowded FBS field is about to get a lot more so, as Jacksonville State is making the jump from “competent FCS team to Old Dominion.” Not every team can be Boise State...or even a Coastal or Troy. The money is the draw, sure, despite studies showing that the vast majority of teams lose money, but the real potential is there for JSU to be more UConn than Florida State too. And I don’t think anyone went into this planning for, much less expecting, failure.
Sharing a state with Nick Saban, and geographically wedged between Auburn and Georgia, where is the local FBS talent going to come from?
FINALLY, while the Alabama comms team is among the best in the business for message discipline, we don’t have to be respectful at all.
Feel free to diss the cow college all you want to and revel in their failure. Even when we lose, we win.
We’ll see you later with some more.
For now, Happy Gump Day and Roll Tide to you all.