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Alabama failed to make the College Football Playoff for the first time since 2019 this past season, which by Crimson Tide standards isn’t exactly up to snuff. Though the SEC powerhouse program finished the campaign 11–2, it’s a championship or bust attitude in Tuscaloosa, which puts coach Nick Saban on slightly shaky footing after the team’s 2022 performance according to former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy.
McElroy, now a college football analyst, explained this week that Saban will be feeling the pressure more than usual next season after the Crimson Tide came up short of their ultimate goal in 2022.
“There’s no denying that,” McElroy said on the Always College Football podcast. “The expectation level around Alabama’s program is championship or bust—simple as that. There are people after Saban wins close games that say, ‘All right, it’s time for him to hang ’em up.’ People are nuts. I’m telling you, Alabama fans and Ohio State fans are as crazy as it gets, and I love them for it, but their expectation level—it’s unreasonable. It’s impossible. If you lose a game it’s like, ‘All right, season’s over.’ What? How?”
McElroy continued, explaining that he feels Saban often times avoids bearing the bulk of the pressure, which is instead often placed on Alabama’s various high-profile assistants. However, after missing the Playoff and seeing conference rival Georgia win a second straight national title, the former Crimson Tide signal-caller thinks the seven-time champ will feel the heat a bit more.
“I think that there will be pressure, yes. I’d be lying if I didn’t think that to be true, but I also think the pressure seldom falls on Nick Saban,” McElroy said. “He’s kind of got a get out of jail free card—no matter what. All the attention and pressure and blame goes to the coordinators. You look back over the course of time, he’s won consistently forever. But if you look back over the course of time, people are constantly pointing to, ‘Bill O’Brien’s got to go. Pete Golding’s got to go. Lane Kiffin’s got to go. Mike Locksley’s got to go. Jim McElwain’s got to go. Doug Nussmeier’s got to go.’
“So I feel like the coordinators really take more heat than Nick Saban does, because he’s kind of in a position in which you can’t really be critical of anything he’s accomplished—you just kind of go about it. But yeah, there’s obviously pressure and Alabama welcomes that pressure on an annual basis.”
Saban will face the tall task of replacing some of his best players, such as quarterback Bryce Young and linebacker Will Anderson, this offseason. If he’s able to do so, the Crimson Tide will surely vault back into the national championship conversation next fall.