I think Alabama’s loss was shocking and disheartening because it’s proof that sometimes your best--the best, statistically—isn’t good enough.
For Alabama fans, our team’s success represents a grander theme in life: greatness begets greatness. These guys have all the resources, drive and talent necessary to produce a National Championship title. We know this, because we’ve done it 16 times.
It’s almost like nobody truly believed it could happen—after all, Jalen’s touchdown with 2:06 left on the clock felt like evidence of Alabama’s impossible “pull it off in any situation” capability.
Yet, simultaneously, it felt a little inevitable.
The beautiful image circulating of our team huddled in prayer following the game is moving. Everyone is sweaty, defeated; heads are bowed and arms are extended around shoulders. Saban stands as the epicenter, crouched and gripping players’ hands on either side of him. The sense of heartbreak is palpable.
I saw a lot of tears last night. Hell, I cried a little myself in the somber Uber ride back from the bar. In a cruel twist, we couldn’t pass through the Strip (the location where, just last year, we cheered for hours after a very different outcome) because it had been blocked off in anticipation of the victorious revelers. The slow parade of Ubers from downtown to campus was like a melodramatic funeral procession.
It’s true, it’s just a game. Does it really matter to any of us fans? The fans who didn’t spend hours a day—the better half of their college careers—training in preparation to take this national stage? It’s true, my life is not really affected by the outcome. It’s what the game represents that is both heartbreaking and humbling.
But what if this wasn’t truly a loss?
Certainly, it’s an L on the schedule—make no mistake—but can we talk for a second about the sentiment surrounding Alabama going in to this season? Critics and fans alike classified this as a ‘rebuilding’ year, almost like Alabama’s “let’s just be single and find ourselves” phase.
Making it, undefeated, to the National Championship isn’t half-bad for a so-called “rebuilding year.”
Some will say the dynasty ends in Tampa, but I think it’s just proof that being great doesn’t mean being perfect. It means walking away from a loss with your head held high and an even more acute determination to come back, better. After all, Clemson is wonderful, ironic proof it’s possible.
This loss is evidence that humility is just as integral as hard work in the formula for success. I sometimes wonder if we became too comfortable on top, and I think Clemson’s victory serves as a cautionary tale that transcends football.
So, Tigers, I’m genuinely happy for you and your newfound title. You can hold onto it for us this year, but I have a feeling we’ll be back in 2018 to reclaim it.
Always and forever, Roll Tide.