On Monday, the college football season ended with a statement. That statement was made by Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide as they simply destroyed their previously undefeated opponents. Alabama broke the Notre Dame Fighting Irish down in every facet of the game and the game was over just seconds into the second quarter.
Alabama has now won three of the last four National Championships. In an era where the "cool kids" are running spread offenses and playing around with the read option, the Tide just lines up and puts their best players against yours and wins with a more traditional style of football. The Tide hasn't quite created a dynasty inside the SEC (winning two of the last four SEC titles) but they have created a National dynasty. So where does Nick Saban go from here?
After winning three of four National titles, the road to the National Title looks to get tougher with the addition of a four team playoff. What the four team playoff will do is eliminate teams that don't belong before the National Championship Game. For Alabama, they will continue to reload no matter their losses. This past season they had four first round draft picks but they just reloaded. They lost workhorse Trent Richardson to the NFL and Eddie Lacy and TJ Yeldon stepped up in his place. Because of the success Alabama has had under Saban, he can walk into just about any living room in Amercia and hand pick the players he wants for his system. Saban has created a machine that will keep running smoothly until he's no longer the captain.
Notre Dame made the National Championship Game because they did what they were supposed to do to play in the game, they beat every team put in front of them. Did they play a stinker of a game or were they simply not as good as their record? The Irish and it's fans have to be scratching their heads. They came into the season thinking their ceiling was around 10-3 and left with just one loss but feeling bummed out. When I looked at the Irish's schedule at the beginning of the season it looked really tough but in the end it ended up not being as challenging as it originally looked (Michigan St, Miami and USC had down years and they caught Stanford before their QB switch) and it helped the Irish go undefeated. Even if the schedule was easier than it was supposed to be and even if they caught a break or two, going undefeated in college football is still a remarkable accomplishment and Brian Kelly has this team ahead of schedule.
This was only Kelly's third season at the helm of the Irish so that's just two full recruiting classes (and one he inherited in December of 2009 and saw to completion) of players that fit his scheme and what he wants to do. Going undefeated in just his third regular season is a huge accomplishment. The fear now is that, as of this article, Kelly is showing a lot of interest in the NFL and it's not just a passing interest. If Kelly stays at Notre Dame, he can rebuild them into a consistent winner and a consistent player in the upper tier of college football. If he leaves, it could be a major blow to the school.
With this win for Alabama, it gives the SEC seven straight BCS National Championships. Every non-SEC school and non-SEC fan already had a big anti-SEC backlash coming into this game and after Alabama's destruction of their opponent I think we will only see more negativity towards the conference. Despite the backlash, I also think that by winning in such a dominant fashion it will be very hard to keep two SEC teams out of the four team playoff next season so the road to the eighth straight National Title might be just a little bit easier next season for the SEC but it might be a bit tougher for the Tide.