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Gump Day: With their backs to the wall, have the Tide found their leader?

It’s your show now, Milroe. Go do something with it.

<p zoompage-fontsize="15" style="">COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 16 Alabama at USF

Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With the near-dissolution of the PAC 12, the remaining PAC 2 have to think about their survival. Obviously, the geographic and financial concerns require thinking outside of the box — like formalizing a conference with the Mountain West.

And, yes, even going balls-out, and diving into high stakes games where every contest really matters, by adopting relegation:

Will they dissolve the Pac-12 and join the Mountain West?

Will they merge with the Mountain West under the Pac-12 banner to preserve the league and its assets?

Will they rebuild the Pac-12 by plucking other Group of Five members?

Or … Will they do something unconventional, creative and, some might say, altogether eccentric. Will they leap with both feet into a pool of uncertainty, overhaul how college conferences are structured and remake the industry’s long-standing model?

“We have to think differently,” said one Mountain West athletic director who wished to remain anonymous. “We’re always trying to fit things in a box and we are always late to the party. How do we get in front of this?”

The Pac-2’s answer, some believe, should be to create a two-conference partnership with the Mountain West around a model similar to European soccer leagues, using a relegation and promotion system for football (and potentially other sports).

The goal is to create high-stakes matchups, scheduling alliances and a points system to fuel interest and excitement in college football’s lower tier. In theory, such a system would make these lower-resourced football programs more appealing to linear and streaming partners in a world where the industry is leaning on such income to survive.

“It’s time we admit what college football is: an entertainment product,” said one Mountain West administrator.

For those who don’t know what relegation is, the model is one that is wildly successful in soccer leagues across the world. Only teams that earn their spot get to stay with the big boys. And, every year a team gets bumped down to the functional equivalent of an FCS league. How do you get back to the grown ups table? The same way you got relegated: You earn it on the field — for better or worse.

I’m not sure that the uber-money big boys would ever willingly adopt this model, but I am very intrigued about the possibility of it being applied to the G5, or even to the P2+.

It solves one of my many complaints with the ACC and P12 — for years and decades now. the same ole’ teams have been freeloading off their conference-mates. We even see it within the “football conferences:” For nearly a century Wisconsin and Northwestern were laughing stocks. You can count on one hand the number of 10-win seasons Vandy has had. Seen Rutgers lately?

What do you think?

Should we have relegation college-wide?

I know he’s a troll, but it’s a valid question: When did Alabama suddenly become so soft...and why?

Goodman thinks, as do many fans, that the decline began with the loss of Scott Cochran. I think, however, that overlooks what I suspect are the main culprits: a changing generation of players who have been conditioned and developed very different than guys were a decade ago, as well as the nearly-inevitable effect of a revolving door of coaches. For many years, Alabama was exceptionally fortunate to replace one excellent cog with another, to plug-n-play one guy with another high character, hard worker who were outstanding at their jobs.

And then...well...that luck simply ran out. Dan Enos. Josh Gattis. Kool. Banks. Tommy Rees. Three offensive line coaches in four year? The list goes on and on and on. All it takes is missing on a few recruits, on hiring a few guys who don’t align with the program, and POOF you see a very mortal program.

One that has, so far, been resistant to The Process...for whatever that means anymore.

But, as Jay Busby posits, only a fool would write the Tide off:

Something is very wrong in Tuscaloosa. You know it. I know it. Alabama fans know it. Alabama players know it. Lane Kiffin, the agent of chaos whose Ole Miss Rebels play Alabama this weekend, is reveling in it. And Nick Saban is coming to terms with it.

“We’ve had some tough stretches before and players have bounced back, but I think everybody has got to make a commitment to doing that,” Saban said Monday. “It’s not easy. We’ve got really tough competition coming up, but everybody has got to challenge themselves, I think, to be their best as a player, be their best as a team guy, be their best as a leader.”

Huge gut check this week for every single person in crimson and white.

Speaking of trolls, Pawwwwwwl is already shoveling dirt on the dynasty:

Alabama is at a point it hasn’t been in recent memory under head coach Nick Saban, and ESPN analyst Paul Finebaum isn’t sugarcoating how he feels about the Crimson Tide heading into this weekend’s game versus Ole Miss.

Finebaum was on Get Up on Wednesday morning, explaining why Alabama is in such a precarious situation and how its playoff hopes could be done before the end of September.

“Alabama is in dire straits right now,” Finebaum said. “They really have very little going for it. Saban brought in Tommy Rees from Notre Dame and in three games, the offensive coordinator has screwed up a quarterback situation about as badly as, well, maybe the Jets. It’s just impossible to talk about how poor things are right now. The offensive line has been a complete and total disaster

Serious question about the line: How f’n bad is Brockmeyer that he can’t get on the field over Seth? Goodness. This hurts my soul to watch.

Tide players get to face Pete Golding on Saturday. For the defenders, it’s a reunion. For the offensive side of the ball? Whew. They’re on high alert for eternal complexities thrown at them:

“Yeah, when Pete was here, he was a great guy,” Alabama defensive back Malachi Moore said Tuesday. “I loved him, and it’s definitely going to be good seeing his face on the sideline. His defense? You know, he wants the defense to have a nasty mentality, get the ball and play fast and aggressive. He did a good job when he was here.”

Alabama linebacker Deontae Lawson said he was more concerned about facing the Rebel offense. Offensive tackle JC Latham echoed Moore’s comment about the Ole Miss defense being aggressive.

“He has an aggressive mindset,” Latham said Monday. “He sprinkles in some complexities so it’s not always the same look. Just understanding that when we see him, he’ll probably play us a little more squared-up, but occasionally, he’ll throw in something to try and throw us off.”

They can expect it, but can they stop it?

On Saturday, RGIII leveled three criticisms against Alabama that I think all rational observers have seen: awful playcalling and an inability to help the offense out; atrocious line play; and the damning lack of leadership.

Has one of those worked themselves out? Saban seems encouraged:

“Jalen really showed the leadership that I was looking for during the game, in terms of supporting his teammates and doing the things he needed to do,” Saban said. “He’s had the opportunity to play. So have the other guys. Jalen played the best of all those guys, so I think he’s earned the opportunity to be the quarterback.”

And his teammates are on board too:

JC Latham, OL

Latham, Alabama’s starting right tackle, admired how Milroe handled losing his starting job ahead of last week’s game against South Florida.

“I know a lot of guys in that position, at a lot of different levels but especially as the starting quarterback at Alabama — once you lose that job, it does something to your confidence and your morale,” Latham said. “He took it on the chin. He knew what he had to do to be better, and he never brought negative energy, on or off the field.

“He’s held himself accountable. He’s held all of us accountable. He did what he had to do. It was a great example of what a leader is and what a leader needs to do through adversity.”

It’s your team now, Jalen. You earned it on the field and on the sidelines. Go make some magic happen.

Finally, you absolutely owe it to yourself to read this longform on Lane Kiffin: His fall from grace, the hubris that consumed him, his depression, his slow climb back up the ladder, his journey to find faith, and his improbable redemption arc. There is a lot of humanity and grace in here.

I know we will all be rooting for Alabama, but most dispassionate fans reading this story can’t help but pull for Lane to complete his Hero’s Journey on Saturday afternoon.

“Why is laying a strong foundation so important?” Farlow asks.

There’s a bit of silence, but Kiffin won’t allow it to get awkward.

“The house analogy of … get the foundation right, take your time, then the storms come, and issues come, you’ll have a chance,” Kiffin says in a low mumble.

Kiffin, 48, can speak with authority on this one. When the biggest storm of his life came out of nowhere 10 years ago, he had nothing firm to fall back on. “The Tarmac” remains an oft-used punchline for college football fans today, but for Kiffin, his 4 a.m. firing on the tarmac at LAX by USC athletic director Pat Haden was more than a public humiliation. It was acute trauma, shattering his self-image.

“Like Coach is saying about the house, you can build a massive, beautiful structure,” Robinson says, “but if the foundation is not healthy, it will crumble.”


Without having to look over his shoulder now, will Milroe be a more effective leader?

This poll is closed

  • 55%
    Yes. He’s taken ownership; it’s his show now, sink or swim
    (547 votes)
  • 37%
    It’s going to depend on how well he plays, and whether teammates will accept that leadership
    (371 votes)
  • 2%
    No, once you’re pulled like that, you’ve lost a lot of respect in the locker room that you never fully get back
    (23 votes)
  • 4%
    (48 votes)
989 votes total Vote Now

We’ll be back in a bit with the Ole Miss-Tide pick. For now, have a happy Gump Day

Roll Tide