TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – With about two minutes to go in the game, you could start to smell the cigar smoke. And in Nick Saban’s mind, the Alabama faithful that packed Bryant-Denny Stadium had earned it.


As he was running back to the locker room, Saban turned back and ran across the field – where his team had just orchestrated a 27-point unanswered second half – to applaud the students and fans. It might be the first time that the usually stoic, seven-time national champion has done this, but this hasn’t been your average Alabama season.



The 2023 season has been a departure from Crimson Tide teams of the past. If the “joyless murderball” teams of yesterday were a comfort show that you put on in the background – not at all worried about a twist, save for the season finale – the Jalen Milroe led Alabama is more akin to Game of Thrones.


It truly might be impossible to predict what this team will do next.


But Crimson Tide fans might be more behind this team than ever before. Bryant-Denny – despite being lulled into a hush after Tennessee scored before the half – roared back to life when Milroe connected with Isiah Bond to score in just two plays coming out of the locker room.


Seemingly just moments later, Chris Braswell had knocked the ball away from Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton, recovering it and running into the endzone to seal the game for Alabama. Those same fans that sat helpless as the Vols scored on three of their first four drives now came completely unglued, assisted when Dixieland Delight started to play over the speakers.


When all was said and done even Saban – a proud proponent of the 24-hour rule – was ready to enjoy the win.


The veteran coach is a noted non-enjoyer of cigars, but even he was seen chewing on one after his interview on CBS – something that Milroe found hilarious.




“We have more business to take care of in the future, but for right now, everybody should enjoy this. It’s a great win for us, we had a great atmosphere in the stadium. Our fans were fantastic. They had a huge impact on the game, in terms of the penalties at the end of the game and not allowing them to score,” Saban said.

“I wish I could thank each one of them personally,” he added.

Despite all the close calls, the early loss, the early scoring struggles and everything else Alabama has been through this season one thing is certain. This team is must-watch. They might fall in two weeks to LSU, or they might ride the wave all the way to the national championship. Truly no one knows. But it’ll be a roller coaster ride regardless.


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Nicholas Pursley is the sports director at WVUA-FM. You can follow him on X @nicholaspursley.