Tide roll because of system
It’s Groundhog Day in the wIorld of college football.
For the eighth time in 12 years, Alabama will play in the national championship game. That feeling of deja vu is not the product of an overactive imagination.
Obviously, all things are not equal when one program can dominate to this extent in an era when national titles are determined through head-to-head matchups and not subjective final polls.
Alabama does not have the lock on impressive training facilities, well-appointed locker rooms, five-star athletes and an eight-figure budget.
Something more is separating Alabama from the pack.
A case can be made that the formula for Alabama’s success is the same one followed by every sports dynasty of the last century, including the fabled Yankees, Celtics, Canadiens and Steelers.
Install a visionary leader with a command presence, construct a pipeline that annually infuses the team’s roster with unparalleled talent and depth and develop a strategy that is executed to perfection on game day.
Also, the teams of legend didn’t beat themselves. In fact, more often than not, the dominant powers will administer a psychological beatdown of their opponent before the game even begins.
Barrett Jones, a former All-America offensive lineman at Alabama who played on three national championship teams, identified discipline as an overriding factor in the program’s decade of dominance.
“The reason we won at Alabama was not because of some magical system we had,” Jones said. “We worked harder than anyone else. I really believe that. We really got out there every day and grinded and worked hard and sweated and bled.”
By definition, dynasties do not endure rebuilding phases.
Under Nick Saban, Alabama has won five national titles and 10 or more games in 13 consecutive seasons. The achievements are even more remarkable considering the enhanced level of competition in the SEC and the annual exodus of players from the Alabama program to the NFL.
Despite repeated efforts to create parity in pro sports, organizations with stellar player personnel and scouting departments have demonstrated that it is possible to produce a run of multiple championships.
Since 2010, the Golden State Warriors, San Francisco Giants, Chicago Blackhawks and New England Patriots all won three championships in six years or less.
The Tampa Bay Rays proved once again that a “small market” team can compete for a championship by advancing to the 2020 World Series with the third-lowest payroll in baseball.
Obviously, Tampa Bay employs a system of talent evaluation and decision making that is far superior to organizations in similar-size markets that consistently rely on a low revenue stream as an excuse for sustained mediocrity.
In comparison, the Texas Rangers had the eighth-highest payroll last season, yet finished with the second-worst record in baseball. For each of the team’s 22 wins, the organization spent approximately $3.4 million on payroll.
By economic contrast, Pittsburgh enjoyed a successful season, spending approximately $1.3 million on payroll for each of its major-league-low 19 wins.
The Yankees became baseball royalty by winning 20 World Series titles over a 40-year period. Like all great empires, their deterioration began from within during the 1960s.
If Alabama is destined to suffer a similar fate, indications are that it’s going to be a very long wait for college football fans who are eager for the dawn of a new day’s changing of the guard.
Jim Caltagirone resides in Altoona. He is an occasional contributor to Voice of the Fan.