PASADENA, Cali. – Alabama’s culture is inundated with winning.

It’s home to the greatest coach in the history of college football, too many trophies to count and routinely attracts the greatest talent that the country has to offer. The Crimson Tide are a brand comparable to no other, the pinnacle, a peak akin to those visible from the stands in Pasadena.

On Monday, the Alabama Crimson Tide were underdogs.

After their second consecutive battle with No. 1 teams, they fell in overtime 27-20.

A called QB-draw hit a maize and blue wall. The same confetti that rained down upon the Tide after their Atlanta triumph now served as a stinging reminder of what could have been.

Problems that had plagued the Crimson Tide all year reappeared under the bright lights of the historic Rose Bowl. Several snaps were misguided, the offensive line struggled to adapt to Michigan’s blitz and the passing attack looked more like it had in Tampa rather than Atlanta.

But perhaps it’s that same championship culture that won’t allow the Tuscaloosa faithful to enjoy the season for what it was.

They weren’t supposed to reach the Rose Bowl. They weren’t supposed to get into the playoff over an undefeated conference champion. They weren’t supposed to even reach, much less win the SEC Championship game. They shouldn’t have gotten past Auburn and the treacherous environment of Jordan-Hare. If Texas wasn’t the Tide’s doom, then surely USF was the final nail in the coffin.

Jalen Milroe wasn’t supposed to be the one to lead the Tide into a war with No. 1 Michigan. Before the season began, his haters already primed to pounce at his first mistake. After the Texas game, they swarmed.

Alabama’s road to the College Football Playoff was nothing short of a walk through glass.

Yet they made it.

It’s an accomplishment that even Nick Saban acknowledged after the game.

“But one thing I told them in the locker room after the game, this is one of the most amazing seasons in Alabama football history in terms of where this team came from…”

Many of the Crimson Tide faithful will remember the Rose Bowl loss – and the 2023 season – as a failure. To many, it’s harsh. But when you’re a program that has national championship legacy, it’s the standard.

Alabama fans shouldn’t look back at this season and see a failure. Instead, they should see it for what it is.

The greatest coaching job of Nick Saban’s career.


You can follow Nicholas on X @nicholaspursley.