Before the month of August, it was hard to imagine that anything could be wrong in the world of Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide. After all, Alabama won its second straight BCS National Championship last season, making it two out of three for the Tide and Saban.
Even better news was the fact that the core of last season’s team returned, and Alabama appeared to be on its way to another national championship. The roster of talent on offense included quarterback A.J. McCarron, running back T.J. Yeldon and wide receiver Amari Cooper.
However, things started to change on August 18 when cornerback Geno Smith was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. This does not fit in with Saban’s type of discipline, and Smith was suspended.
Then, in Saturday’s opening game against the Virginia Tech Hokies, the Crimson Tide appeared flat (with the exception of Christion Jones, who was spectacular). The team that was supposed to be an offensive juggernaut this season only managed 206 yards of offense in the 35-10 win. McCarron was 10-of-23 through the air for 110 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. Cooper caught only four passes for 38 yards. And Yeldon was held to 75 yards on the ground.
Then on Tuesday, wide receiver Kenny Bell tweeted that he was leaving the Alabama program to focus on his family. However, Saban says that Bell is still part of the team, after taking a “personal day” on Tuesday.
None of this is normal for a Saban-coached team. Saban likes to have control of his entire team, and at this point, it doesn’t appear that he has that type of control over his current squad.
Saban will likely use this open week to get things together in Tuscaloosa, and he needs to have his team in order before what figures to be the season’s toughest challenge, a September 14 matchup in College Station against Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M Aggies. That game will prove whether Saban has gotten through to his current group of players.