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COLLEGE FOOTBALL’S GREATEST “WHAT IF?”

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ACTIONCOOKBOOK’S GOTTEN INTO THE PINE-SOL AGAIN

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Around these parts, we like to play the game of speculation, and never is that more true than in the offseason. With the games behind us and the confetti swept up, we can warm ourselves through another long, cold winter by entertaining some of the sport’s great hypotheticals. What if you paid players? What if the Power 5 conferences broke from the NCAA? What if you expanded to an 8-, 16-, or 64-team playoff? What if there were a system of promotion and relegation for college football teams? Heck, Matt Brown wrote a whole book on some of the historical hypotheticals.

With that said, today we’re finally getting around to addressing the sport’s most fundamental hypothetical question:

What if Nick Saban abruptly resigned from his post as Alabama head coach, and was replaced by a massive, shrieking obelisk of unknown origins?

Let’s dig in.

SEPTEMBER 3nd

The defending national champion Crimson Tide polished off the Louisville Cardinals Saturday in their opener in Orlando, but the 42-17 win wasn’t what reporters wanted to talk about as a media scrum descended on Alabama’s athletic facilities. No, the topic on everyone’s mind was the shocking post-game announcement that, after 11 years and 5 national titles with the Tide, head coach Nick Saban would be retiring, effective immediately.

“This isn’t a meeting I had hoped to have any time soon, and frankly, I was as surprised as any of you were when I found out,” athletic director Greg Byrne told the collected audience. “Still, we respect Nick’s decision, and we remain immensely grateful for the unprecedented run of success he brought this great state.”

“Do you wish you’d known sooner, so that perhaps you could’ve retained Jeremy Pruitt as a successor?”, a reporter called out from the scrum.

“Our plan of succession is evident, and we have great confidence in the new direction of the program,” a visibly sweating Byrne insisted. “We serve at the pleasure of Obelisk.”

“Hail Obelisk”, a stone-faced, glass-eyed Saban intoned, appearing from the shadows in the corner of the room.

SEPTEMBER 8th

The new-look Tide struggled early in their home opener against Arkansas State, falling behind 10-0 before rallying to a comfortable win behind three second-half touchdown passes by Tua Tagovailoa. Afterwards, the new coach addressed the media.

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH”, the obelisk radiated.

“Time will tell how he does here, but this guy gives a great soundbyte,” one reporter noted to his colleagues.

SEPTEMBER 16th

The SEC issued a statement on Alabama’s controversial 38-30 win over Ole Miss in Oxford yesterday.

No one is more concerned for the safety of our student-athletes, coaches and staff than we are, so obviously the events Saturday afternoon are troubling. However, we find it impossible to prove that Ole Miss’s entire team did not, in fact, turn themselves into pillars of salt, and therefore we will not be issuing any further sanctions to Alabama’s football program.”

Hail Obelisk the creator.”

SEPTEMBER 22rd

“Coach, do you think a 2-2 start to your tenure in College Station is going to make people question the wisdom of a fully-guaranteed, $75-million dollar contract?”

“Is that really what you’re asking me, after the sky erupted in fire and geysers of blood burst from the grass?”

“Answer the question, Coach Fisher.”

OCTOBER 20th

The Crimson Tide will take an 8-0 record into the bye week, polishing off the #11th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers 49-0 in Knoxville on Saturday.

“It’s a rebuilding process, and I did see progress from our boys out there today,” Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt noted post-game. “We look across the field, and we see where we want to be. Obviously, I didn’t work directly under Obelisk, but I respect the continuity he’s been able to bring to that program. You want to set your team up for long-term success.”

Pruitt fell into shadow as the Obelisk floated over his head.

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH”, it emanated.

NOVEMBER 3rd

Top-ranked Alabama was stunned Saturday night, falling 14-12 to unranked LSU in Baton Rouge. After the game, Supreme Giver Obelisk addressed the media.

“Obviously we’re disappointed, but this is a tough place for any team to come into. I think we executed our plan well - my horde of flesh-hungry orcs emerged just as I planned - but they just got outplayed and outmanned. I think the crowd was a factor, those are young undead hellbeasts, and they haven’t seen anything like this environment before. We’ve got two weeks remaining until the Iron Bowl, and I think our resume to date speaks for itself. I don’t expect to drop much in the polls, and I think we’ll be right in the mix at the end of the season.”

It drifted away from the microphone, before drifting briefly back.

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH”, it added.

NOVEMBER 24th

Moments before the Iron Bowl was set to kick off, pitting #6 Alabama against #10 Auburn, the shrieking began. Initially, the gathered crowd at Bryant-Denny Stadium assumed they were hearing Coach Obelisk’s now-traditional pregame speech, but it soon became clear the screams were radiating from the core of the earth itself. The field quivered and rippled, the grass roiling like an angry, boiling sea, before splitting wide, a gaping rift in the very fabric of the universe. Those who dared peer into the abyss burst into flames for their hubris. The skies swam black, the souls of the damned swarming like ashes above a great fire. In the center of it all, Obelisk floated, rotating implacably above a dying world.

Despite three missed field goals, the Tide prevailed 26-13, and will play undefeated Florida in the SEC title game next week in the lava fields that were once Atlanta.

Scientists, occultists, military and religious leaders alike coach only shake their heads in wonder at the stunning events of the last four months.

“Undefeated Florida”, they gasped.