It looks like a real rivalry now after Georgia 33, Alabama 18.
And more like the start of something bigger for the SEC than a dynasty break for Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide.
It’s been a year of rebuilding for Alabama, after all, and Karate Kids Bryce Young and Will Anderson Jr., the two best players in college football, were already talking about next season just minutes after the Georgia Championship confetti settled down. are installed in the field here at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“It took us a while to hit the Alabama standard,” said Anderson Jr., the second-year linebacker who won the Nagurski Trophy. “We just can’t wait to get better this offseason. “
And, presumably, Alabama has a shot at winning another national championship after playing six times in the past seven years.
RELATED: Faulty Alabama falls short but the future looks bright
RELATED: Bryce Young feels like he’s let Alabama down
RELATED: Georgia celebrates with bad hats
The Ascendant Georgia, who has always barked at Alabama’s heels, 0-4 against the Crimson Tide with Kirby Smart as the Bulldogs coach, had been chasing Alabama for years. The Dawgs finally caught the Crimson Tide here in the cold Indianapolis after losing to Alabama in the SEC Championship game. If the 2nd and 26th in Atlanta were a dagger in the heart of Georgia, then revenge looked like a medieval mace above Alabama’s head.
These Dawgs have been mean all season and they deserve champions.
It was also fitting that this All-SEC national championship game resembled something from the roots of the league. Revenge stuff, that was it. Hard to the point of torture. Not completely old-fashioned from Georgia, but deep into the angry Old Testament.
Smart told his team ahead of the game that they were “burning the boats” in Indianapolis, which meant it was win or die for the Bulldogs.
“The only way to get back is through them,” Smart said after Georgia’s first national championship since the 1980 season.
Behind the scenes and on the recruiting track, the competitive rivalry between Alabama and Georgia began almost immediately when Georgia hired longtime Alabama assistant Kirby Smart, away from Nick Saban. Smart is known for its fierce competitiveness, and that’s what it takes to compete with Alabama for the best prospects in the nation.
This is why Texas and Oklahoma are joining the SEC.
That’s why the rest of college football can only watch, bubble and fight with each other for how to rig an extended version of college football playoffs.
The SEC, that league everyone loves to hate in the country, took over the NCAA home this week and celebrated with a Championship game that showed just how much space there is between the league. and the terrain. Before the game, Saban practically pleaded with the NCAA to pass national legislation regulating the NIL.
Just because the new name, image and likeness rules for making money for players don’t hurt Alabama. That’s because the unregulated NIL in the hands of desperate SEC teams is pushing an already broken sport to the brink.
The first 100% SEC national championship between Alabama and Georgia looked like something new, but it seemed inevitable from the start of the season. More than ever, the SEC is the league that eats college football alive, and last month’s national showcase only reinforced that image.
Semi-final opponents Cincinnati and Michigan combined to score a touchdown against Alabama and Georgia. Texas A&M, Alabama and Georgia rank between one and three in the 2022 national recruiting rankings, and prospective SEC member Texas has five.
Can we just move on to the SEC showcase next year? Three different SEC teams have won national championships in each of the past three years, so it’s safe to assume that the 2023 Los Angeles Championship game will be another SEC hoedown in another barn far, far away.
Something tells me the Heisman-winning California quarterback will be there.
“Adversity has been our thing all year,” said Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, “and I just have to do better with it.”
And he will too.
Young had fallen on wide receiver Slade Bolden and some tight ends after Jameson Williams left the Championship game with a knee injury. It was only then that Georgia took the lead over Alabama.
“When you take [Williams] out of the roster he has to have some impact, ”Saban said.
For someone who says he hates losing more than he likes winning, Saban didn’t seem frustrated after this one, and only slightly disappointed.
“If we were to lose a national championship, I would rather lose one to a former assistant,” he said.
Oh good? Since when?
It’s like the 70-year-old coach is already looking ahead and expecting a new challenge from an old friend.
Joseph Goodman is a columnist for the Alabama Media Group. He’s on Twitter @JoeGoodmanJr. His new book, “We Want Bama: A season of hope and the making of Nick Saban’s ‘ultimate team'”, is available wherever books are sold.