Aug 262013

The Crimson Tide Has turned College Football Into a Snooze—Even in Tuscaloosa

From The Wall Street Journal by Ben Cohen

Sometime in the middle of last season—which, like the previous season, ended with Alabama winning college football’s national title—the popular sports-radio host Paul Finebaum was filling up his car at a gas station in Alabama.

A listener stopped him to say three things. The first was “Roll Tide.” The second was that Nick Saban becoming the coach of the Crimson Tide was one of the greatest things that had ever happened in his life. The third was something Finebaum wasn’t used to hearing: “To be perfectly honest with you,” the fan said, “it’s really gotten boring.”

Alabama, the closest thing to a dynasty in modern college football, has managed to turn this sport into an autumnal snooze. The prohibitive favorite to win the national championship yet again, the No. 1-ranked Tide owns three of the last four titles, has been favored by Las Vegas oddsmakers for 43 straight games and is now targeting the sport’s first three-peat since the 1940s.

As Alabama prepares to open its season Saturday against Virginia Tech, the 124 other teams theoretically playing the same game are once again united in a single purpose: to dethrone the Tide. But hardly anyone appears up to it. Archrival Auburn is rebuilding. And by a stroke of scheduling luck, Alabama gets to skip Southeastern Conference powers Georgia, Florida and South Carolina. Basically, there are two games between the Tide and the SEC championship: a Sept. 14 trip to No. 7 Texas A&M and a Nov. 9 home game against 12th-ranked Louisiana State.

Meanwhile, running back T.J. Yeldon is a Heisman Trophy candidate and quarterback A.J. McCarron is returning for his third season as the starter, having already collected a pair of crystal footballs in that role.

As other schools like Texas A&M, Oregon, Florida State and Southern California attract headlines about everything from lavish facilities and possible NCAA violations to uncertainty about who will be the starting quarterback, the only thing that approached controversial proportions during Alabama’s preseason is who might take on the role of McCarron’s backup.

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