I've been watching college football for more years than I care to admit, and while one could easily make the case that Saturday's game was one of the wildest finishes in the history of college football, my focus, after the world began to settle, wasn't so much how the game ended...but how the game arrived at that point.
I still bleed crimson and white win or lose #RTRWhile giving all the credit in the world to the Auburn Tigers for a hard-fought "60 minute" effort, I think more objective fans came away from the contest with the feeling that Auburn didn't "beat" Alabama, as much as Alabama simply failed to finish the job.
— Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (@HaHa_CD6) December 1, 2013
Auburn beat Alabama on the scoreboard, but Alabama beat Alabama on the field.
With the obvious exception of AJ McCarron's 99-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper, the final stanza of the Iron Bowl was a total meltdown for Alabama...especially on offense.
Leading by a touchdown, Alabama had two opportunities to extend the lead by an additional two field goals, or two touchdowns. I think most reasonable people would concede that if Alabama had converted two field goals to take a 13 point lead, the contest would have likely been sealed.
While Auburn's 100-yard touchdown is the "sexy" topic of conversation, the truth is that Alabama's poor execution was bigger than any Auburn touchdown.
In retrospect, a plethora of things had to be set in motion for Auburn to even have a sniff at victory. Those "things" weren't majestic tasks, but rather basic fundamentals that Alabama failed to execute.
The lack of the basics, especially in the final quarter, gave Auburn a chance. Arguably a chance the Tigers had no business having at that stage of the game.
Under Nick Saban, especially since 2008, the Crimson Tide have looked and played like, "Saban coached teams." However, when the chips were down against the Auburn Tigers, 'Bama appeared to lack confidence in virtually every phase of the game. The lack of confidence, amongst other things, is what derailed many games prior to Saban's arrival.
Losing to Auburn, regardless of the "extra stakes" is tough enough, but when you factor today's loss, and how it happened, with what Alabama failed to achieve in respect to the conference and national picture...the defeat is heartbreaking. Losing a contest in a hard-fought battle where both teams left it all on the field is tough, but yet admirable and "acceptable" from a fan standpoint. However, losing to Auburn simply because the "basics" were not performed, is rather hard to swallow.
A hug goodbye for AJ McCarron and his father. pic.twitter.com/zBbNRlVlitI'm far from naive, so I'm very aware that no one wanted to win more than the Alabama coaching staff and players. I love the Alabama football program and will certainly never forget what the 2013 senior class has given to/for the program. I wanted Alabama to play their best game to satisfy my fandom, but I also wanted this group of young men to have a shot at college football history. I wanted a "three-peat" for them...
— Michael Casagrande (@ByCasagrande) December 1, 2013
In respect to the gut-wrenching defeat at the hands of Auburn, the game is over, and the day is done. Alabama will certainly bounce back and have many more wonderful seasons, and they'll also have many stinging defeats. Heartbreak and triumph...for it is life.
We all have our days and today wasn't our day but no matter what we stay together as a team and familyAs of late 2013, many people have a strong disdain for the Alabama football program, and I couldn't be more thrilled. College football fans don't "hate" on a 4-7 team, because people simply don't care. As long as people can't stand Alabama, that means people are tired of watching the program have success.
— LANDON COLLINS (@ALLAMERICAN_2) December 1, 2013
I'll never worry about people having hatred for Alabama football...I'll worry when they don't care at all.
When the entire nation can cheer at your expense, you've reached the pinnacle. Even in this most recent defeat, the University of Alabama is still the gold standard by which the rest of college football is measured.