The SEC schedule got off to a rough start for Alabama in 2015. The upstart Ole Miss Rebels, who had upset the Tide in Oxford the year prior, managed to pull off another one in Tuscaloosa in one of the wackiest games you will ever see. Everything went the Rebels’ way that night. Alabama lost five turnovers, two on fumbled kickoff returns deep in their own territory, while Ole Miss lost none.
There was also that crazy, ill-advised pass that Ole MIss QB Chad Kelly managed to carom off of Minkah Fitzpatrick’s helmet into the waiting arms of WR Brendon Ayanbadejo, who took it in for a score. When all was said and done, the Tide had dropped the game by a score of 43-37, and college football pundits were ready to shovel dirt on the Saban era.
Just check out these takes from Dan Wolken and Pat Forde.
What it looks like when a dynasty wobbles: thousands of Alabama fans hitting the exits like Derrick Henry hitting a hole. With 10 minutes left in the game, their team down 20. When the going got tough, the Bryant-Denny Stadium crowd got out.
What it sounds like when a power program loses its grip: the sliver of visiting Mississippi fans cheering last and loudest, celebrating their first win here since 1988 and their first back-to-back victories over the Crimson Tide ever.
What it feels like when the foundation cracks: denial is in the air. “They didn’t beat us,” Alabama cornerback Cyrus Jones said. “We beat ourselves.”
It’s hard to say exactly where Nick Saban’s Alabama falls on that spectrum traveled by Urban Meyer’s Florida Gators, Pete Carroll’s USC Trojans and so many others before them. But make no mistake, what happened here at Bryant-Denny Stadium late Saturday night in No. 11 Ole Miss’ 43-37 victory was the clearest sign yet this unbelievable epoch in Alabama football history is much closer to the end than the beginning.
Not to be outdone, Colin Cowherd fired off this hot one.
“In life, in business, you’ve got to be able to pivot, I don’t think Nick’s pivoted particularly well,” Cowherd said in 2015. “First of all, I always thought it was a boring dynasty. I liked USC’s, I liked Texas’, but it’s kind of boring. And I sincerely believe this. It’s over.
Klatt replied, “No, it is.”
Cowherd: “They’ll win a bunch of games, but it’s over.”
In fairness, Alabama has only won three of the six possible national titles since then, and played for two more, and I’d still love to know when the supposed Texas dynasty took place.
We all know how that season, and those smoking hot takes, turned out. Alabama ran the table the rest of the way. Derrick Henry won a Heisman, Jacob Coker won the hearts of Alabama fans, Calvin Ridley burst onto the scene, Kenyan Drake flew, OJ Howard had his career night and Adam Griffith onside kicked the way to the championship. That Ole Miss debacle would go down in history as a fluke, a mere bump in the road for another Saban championship team.
Of course, we’d be remiss not to acknowledge the contribution of Arkansas TE Hunter Henry. Without his 4th and 25 lateral to Alex Collins that was just as miraculous as the Ole Miss helmet bounce touchdown, Alabama would not have won the SEC West and very likely would have missed the playoff. Worse, college football fans everywhere would have been deprived of this GIF.
And if all that wasn’t enough, we got the very best Saban press conference of all time.
What a crazy, chaotic, zany, beautiful season it was, and the ending was glorious. Feel free to relive it below, along with Da’Shawn Hand’s stellar post-championship commentary.
We are now 15 days from kickoff.