How real is ‘fan fatigue’ when it comes to Alabama football?
By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Sam Thornton
TUSCALOOSA-When Alabama head football coach Nick Saban equipped the throne in Tuscaloosa, he not only launched the most dominant run in college football history, but also renaissanced college football’s inaugural fan fatigue movement. Six national championships, eight SEC championships and a slew of No. 1 recruiting classes since 2008 will do that to a casual football fan.
With historic dominance comes unreal expectations, and Alabama carries that load more than any national powerhouse. When the Tide’s perceived weakness was exposed over the last two seasons, fans and experts across the country cried the end of an era.
Former ESPN college football analyst David Pollack was the first expert to initiate the downward trajectory of Alabama football while sharing the panel right in front of Saban. The entire off-season has been sparked with debate over Alabama’s potential redemption season.
Although the Tide will appear in the fall with one of the most decorated rosters in the country, their typical standard hasn’t been noticed by several experts. Last week, national college football analyst Josh Pate called out Alabama doubters on the “Late Kick Podcast”.
“If you took the roster Alabama has, and you put FSU jersey’s on them, some people who are doubting Alabama would pick Florida State to win the national title,” He said.
In Florida State’s case, their fanbase would trade anything to be coming off a Sugar Bowl victory like Alabama. Even if Saban captures consecutive national titles in the future, someone would create an amusing narrative to break Alabama down.
Alabama football fatigue is real, and there’s no telling how prevalent it will become this season when Saban names a starting quarterback. For Tide fans, being doubted is a good thing. After all, four of the six national championship teams under Saban have had one loss on their record.
Safely put, when Alabama is doubted they always respond. A disappointing two loss season in 2022 following a loss to Georgia in the national championship game the year prior is driving that doubt even further, setting up the potential for a program best response in September.
“Just when you (expletive) say ‘Nick’s done, Alabama’s done, Kirby,’ goodbye. Here comes Alabama, they’re going to win it all,” ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit said on the Pat McAfee Show in June.
Before Saban faced Georgia in the 2021 SEC championship game, the Alabama fatigue was arguably at its peak when they had a single loss on their record to the hands of Texas A&M.
The bulldogs historical defense that season was the driving force of fatigue, and it was another case of Saban proving the doubters wrong by capturing another SEC title.
One could make the case that 2023 will be Saban’s most important year yet as a head coach. Not making the college football playoff for the first time since its adoption while watching Georgia capture their second consecutive national title should generate the most pressure Alabama has seen in its history.
However, the assumed pressure isn’t on Saban or the players suiting up in crimson and white. That burden falls on college football fans nation wide who pull harder for Alabama fatigue more than their own alma matter.
For Saban, rat poison has been the recent recipe for success, and it’s more potent than ever heading into 2023. Not only is fatigue present as always, but it’s now firmly holding hands with national doubt in Tuscaloosa.