Nick Saban’s Alabama future is very much in doubt after Texas took a 34-24 victory on September 9 at Bryant-Denny Stadium; a defiant response to the 2022 season’s razor-thin 20-19 Crimson Tide win at Darrell K Royal Stadium on September 3.
AL.com’s Joseph Goodman believes the Longhorns handing Saban and Co. their first loss of the 2023 season will go down as the pivot of Alabama being a dominant program in the current tense, to having been a dominant program in the past tense.
“By the end of Texas 34, Alabama 24, it all just felt inevitable,” Goodman prefaced before saying, “Some losses sting. Some cut deep with a jagged edge. This one was blunt force trauma to the face. By the end of it all, Alabama was unrecognizable.
“Texas 2023? It’s where the mystique of Nick Saban’s Alabama ended and where one of the greatest dynasties the sport has ever seen was something to be remembered rather than celebrated on a Saturday night in Tuscaloosa.”
Texas outgained Alabama by 92 yards and owned the time-of-possession battle by over five minutes. The Longhorns put the game away in the fourth quarter with a three-touchdown outburst to solidify the double-digit victory.
Nick Saban ‘Never Discussed’ Pulling Alabama Starting QB Jalen Milroe
Saban told reporters during the September 9 postgame press conference that he never thought about removing starting Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe against Texas; despite throwing two painful interceptions in the first three quarters.
“I did,” Saban prefaced before saying, “But when (Milroe) put the drive together to go down the field and score when we got ahead, I thought that gave him a lot of confidence. But we never, ever discussed it. I can’t sit here and say the thought doesn’t come to mind for any player that’s having a difficult time.”
Saban gave more credit to Texas than he did his own team.
“Texas was a great team, great team as a whole,” Saban said. “Great defense. Great sound defensive, aggressive, strong physical. So you gotta give it to them. You got to give it to them how great they were. They had a great gameplan that they had to approach this game. And they caused issues. We’re going to learn from it. We’re going to fix it.”
Texas’ Win Over Alabama Historic in a Variety of Ways: Analyst
Saturday Down South’s Connor O’Gara pointed out the multiple ways Texas’ Week 2 win against Alabama was historic — both on the losing side for the Crimson Tide, which isn’t a common occurrence in the 21st century, and on the winning side for the Longhorns, which also hasn’t been common against this caliber of opponent.
“There’s no win more impressive than winning in Alabama,” O’Gara prefaced before saying, “It was the first time that the Tide lost at home since the 2019 LSU game against Joe Burrow, which ended the longest home winning streak (21) in the nation. Up until Saturday, that was Alabama’s lone home loss since the start of the 2016 season. It was the first time that Alabama lost a game in nonconference play since Louisiana-Monroe in 2007. It was the first time that Saban lost to one of his former coaches in a home game.
“On the Texas side, this was the Longhorns’ first win against an AP Top 5 team since 2010. It was their first win against Alabama in 41 years, and it was the first win against an AP Top 3 team on the road since 1969.”
The Tide is most certainly turning in Tuscaloosa: from Alabama being a perennial SEC Champion to being part of the rest of the pack. That was the case in 2022 and appears to be how the 2023 season will also go.
Will Saban stick around if this continues? More vacations in Italy have to sound nice right now.