Nick Saban faces his toughest challenge yet
With college football kicking off in two weeks, the Crimson Tide will look to defend their national title as they open against Louisville. Considered to be the favorite to win it all again this year, it almost seems to have a different feel this time around. Jalen Hurts, who has led the team to back to back national title appearances, is in a position battle to remain the starting quarterback. On the other side of the ball, the Tide must replace their entire secondary and a large portion of their defense. Nick Saban looks to find himself in uncharted territory, the first coach to win seven national championships. With all of the chatter growing from the media and inside the locker room, this may be one of Nick Saban’s biggest challenges yet.
Jalen Hurts has been a playmaker who rarely turns the ball over and puts his team in a position to win. However, when the College Football Playoffs roll around, he seems to disappear, and the offense begins to struggle. At halftime in the National Championship, Alabama decided to go with the true freshman Tua Tagavoila to boost their offensive game and he led them to a victory in overtime. With the emotions running high after his amazing comeback, fans have become split as they choose sides on who they want to be the starter for this upcoming season. As the media has portrayed it, Tua has taken over the starting job and Jalen is slowly becoming an afterthought. Hurts also spoke to the media stating that nobody, players or coaches, came up to him and asked him how he has felt about the situation. It seems as if he is growing unhappy in Tuscaloosa. The spotlight will be bright and following the two quarterbacks all season. It will be up to Saban to control what his team hears from the media and not fall for “the rat poison.”
Every year the Crimson Tide seems to unload another haul of defensive talent to the NFL and this past year was no different; at least on the surface. This year, the team must find an entirely new secondary as all of their starters have departed for the NFL and a few back ups have graduated. Like always, they are filled with talent, but this time, the actual game experience is very slim. Saban likes to run an NFL-style defense. With a young secondary, it will be interesting to see how long it will take for them to adapt or if the plays will be simplified. To make things even more intriguing, Tosh Lupoi, their new defensive coordinator, will be holding his first coordinator job. Although he has been an assistant for Saban for quite some time, the pressure to oversee the entire defensive unit for Saban is some big shoes to fill in.
As Nick Saban continues to grow older, he also continues to run college football like no other. His teams seem to get more and more talented and they typically sit in a class of their own. He continues to churn out successful coordinators who become head coaches, and he continues to show them who taught them the ropes as none of them have yet to defeat him. This season will be his first attempt to break Bear Bryant’s record of national championships won as he aims for title number seven. He believes he can coach for many years to come, but as we all know, time waits for no one. People in Tuscaloosa have worshiped Bear Bryant’s name as a God for decades, if Nick Saban can find a way to get his seventh title, they will have two Gods. With all of the challenges that Nick Saban has faced, this one may serve to be his biggest yet; but as we all know, Saban is as strong as his defenses.