Alabama’s rampage through college football over the past decade is something, by and large, I have not enjoyed. The Crimson Tide have squeezed the life out of football games on a near-weekly basis year after year, and unless you are an Alabama fan, that’s not a terribly entertaining thing to watch.
But something’s different this season, and it hit me on Saturday while Alabama was absolutely woodshedding Tennessee, 49-10. I reflexively laughed and started clapping when Ronnie Harrison picked off Josh Dobbs and took it back for a touchdown to make it 14-0. I was enjoying this. And unlike the other times cruel fate has aligned my rooting interests with Alabama’s, I didn’t feel any dark shame.
This game was an absolute masterpiece. Tennessee fans have been working themselves into a froth for years about the program’s return to national prominence, and after lots of Wait Until Next Years, this was it. This Was The Year. The Vols have been building towards this year for a long time, and this game was the focal point. Even after losing to Texas A&M the week before, Tennessee could stay in the Playoff hunt by beating Alabama for the first time in a decade. It was all right there for them, and instead of this being the Vols’ moment of glory, Alabama handed them their worst loss in this series in 110 years.
It was a comprehensive humiliation, and it was great.
Maybe this is a demented episode of Stockholm Syndrome. College football operates in long cycles, and we’ve been in the clutches of a long run of Alabama success for so long that maybe I’ve just accepted their menacing ass-draggings as a constant in life. The enemy you know is better than the one you don’t, and by now we are all well acquainted with this particular flavor of dominance.
But like most things, this is Lane Kiffin’s fault. The form of the destructor has changed many times, but there’s something incredibly fun and endearing about Kiffin’s stay in Tuscaloosa. Maybe some of it is due to him still getting his ass chewed by Nick Saban on the sideline — Nick’s words, not mine — or maybe it’s something else. It’s hard to say.
He also threw his visor up into the stands after the game, a true god move if I’ve ever seen one.
But personality quirks don’t paint the whole picture. Alabama is more fun to watch on offense than they have ever been, and we have to thank Lane for that. They still squeeze teams until they pop, but they at least have the decency to do it with a little more panache now. Oh, and the defense scores every week, as well. That’s fine too.
We all have preferences for who we’d like to see win titles if our team can’t do it. Alabama used to be on the bottom of that list. Like, anchored to the bottom of it. That’s not true anymore, and I’m still trying to emotionally sort out this development. This may not mean anything other than ensuring Alabama will lose in excruciating fashion in the Playoff this year.
So you’re welcome, I suppose.