| NEWS Alabama Crimson Tide's Nick Saban concedes defense is no longer key to victory - ESPN


Century Club
Aug 23, 2005
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I found this on the Interwebs this weekend. Credit to BBA on TI

Saw some posts from yesterday and Saturday..... Some opinion, thrown out for discussion.

Football, especially college football, is an evolving sport. It has been changing constantly since the early 1900s. The changes have been mostly responses to rules changes.

Legalizing the forward pass in 1906-07 took a while to change the game, but it did. The 30s and 40s saw the pass evolving, but football was still a run-dominated until the 1980s.

One-Platoon football of the 1950s shaped/guided/directed the game until 1962. When two platoon ball was again allowed, the game changed again.

The end of segregation in the South changed football.

The wishbone era was maybe the only era of football that did NOT directly evolve from a rules change. But the END of the Wishbone era was directly related to the change in pass block rules changes, scholarship limitations, and team practice time limitations.

The Passing Era began in roughly 1980. As the Wishbone Era ended, offenses evolved during the subsequent 30 years. However, the changes were gradual. And Defenses evolved to still be a strong component of the game.

However, a seemingly minor rules change in 2007-08 to eliminate possible Referee bias has had a drastic and unintended consequence. The rule was changed that once the officials set the ball, the offense was free to snap the ball. This was changed due to some funny business that went on in the Big-12 with officials dragging their feet about putting the ball in play and preventing a team from getting plays off at the end of the game. The cost a couple of teams some games.

When the NCAA changed the rule, only 1 or 2 coaches changed to take advantage of the rule.

IMO, when Texas A&M beat Alabama at home in 2012 running a hurry up offense, that started the avalanche. Then, some coaches started abusing the "3 yard rule" on pass plays with their offensive lineman. The "RPO" offense, using and abusing the "OL Down field 3 yards" (or More) and the hurry up tempo have stretched defenses beyond their ability to defend. Defenses are frozen in place AFTER the snap because of the RPO with Linemen downfield. They can't cover two places at once.

IMO, the era of "Balanced Football" is dead. Until rules are changed to give defenses an opportunity to analyze, adjust personnel between snaps and get in position AND OLmen are prohibited from going 3 Yards (in reality 5, 6 and 7 yards) downfield on RPO pass plays, teams limiting offenses to <250 yards of offense on average is over.

Nick Saban has adapted from conservative, run based offense to Wide Open, high scoring passing offense because he realized that he cannot field a dominating defense under the present rules and win Championships with it.

Coach Bryant won National Titles in 1961, 1964 and 1965 with his standard offense. He had a 4 year drought of subpar teams until he switched to the wishbone, then only had the split title in 1973 until he won a unanimous #1 with the 1978 team.

Nick Saban won National Titles in 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015 with a Defense first, Conservative offense scheme. He won it all in 2017 with a transition team. Only time will tell if he can win a national title with a Wide Open passing offense and place-keeper defense.


Bench Warmer
Scholarship Club
Oct 31, 2007
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Not to be nit picky here but Coach Bryant won the NC in 1979 as well. Other than that, good read.


Verified Member
Extra Point Club
Nov 20, 2006
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so a lot of this touches what we discussed over in the Georgia thread. I still think Clemson and Georgia's "Great defenses" are a byproduct of who've they've played. We all want to b!$+h and moan about how poorly our defense played against certain teams, but a few here have talked about how we've improved over the past couple games, though still not great. Could it be that defense that sucked (playing A&M and OM) weren't as bad as we want to believe, but that improved defense (against UGA and Tennessee) isn't really any different than it was the weeks prior?

Hmmm.... what's different here? Oh yeah, the more explosive offenses from the western teams vs. the more traditional offensive eastern teams.

No one can argue that there was anybody better at creating shutdown defenses than Saban, but those shutdown defenses shut down the LSU's and UGA's of the past, but still struggled against the Oklahomas and Clemsons of the world. Not that I don't think Saban will find a way, but I think what he said hit the nail on the head, the defenses just haven't caught up to the offenses and defense doesn't win championships anymore. Defense does still win games, it's just not going to be a 9-6 game anymore, it's going to be 49-42, whoever has the most (or last) stops wins.

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