Greg McElroy declares Alabama dynasty over, explains why

PeterWarrenPhoto2by:Peter Warren09/13/23


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Former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy was in Tuscaloosa, Ala., for the start of the Nick Saban dynasty. Now, the national championship-winning quarterback is declaring that the dynasty he helped start is over.

“It depends a little bit on how you define a dynasty. I always define a dynasty with complete dominance over the competition almost always, and I think that those days have definitely gone by the wayside,” McElroy said on the latest episode of Always College Football with Greg McElroy.

That doesn’t mean the Crimson Tide won’t continue competing for titles — and even potentially win them. But the days of running through a schedule with ease are over.

“To say that the dynasty is over, yeah, I think the run of dominance in which they destroy every opponent is done. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t think they can’t win a championship,” McElroy said. “I still think they can.”

He cites the transfer portal and dwindling depth as two reasons for their dominance waining over the last two seasons. They still have good players, but the second-level and third-level talent is younger and not as good as it was at the team’s peak.

The Crimson Tide have lost two games in three of the past four seasons. In the prior 10 seasons, they had lost at least two games only three times.

“A dynasty means that you have to win three out of four championships,” McElroy said. “That’s the way I’ve always looked at a dynasty. Whether it’s the Patriots or Alabama from ’09 to ’12 or from the possibility of winning two out of three like Clemson did, everyone has their own variations of a dynasty. But a lot of people are pointing to the low-hanging fruit argument. Well, Alabama’s 4-3 in their last seven games against Power Five opponents and just suffered the first double-digit loss since 2004 in Bryant-Denny. I think that’s that’s the low-hanging fruit argument.

“The silver lining is that they convincingly beat the Big 12 champion last year in a bowl game. They lost two of the three games that we just described by a combined four points. They’re a play or two here or there, and the outcomes flipped significantly. Now you can also push back and say well, some of the other games that they won were really close and maybe they shouldn’t have been. All that’s totally fine.”

The Crimson Tide have lost three games since the start of last season to Tennessee, LSU and now Texas. All three teams were ranked in the top 11 in the polls prior to the victory.

But even in wins, Alabama is not dominating like they once did. Its road scoring margin has drastically decreased in the past two seasons. From 2015-2020, the Crimson Tide’s road scoring margin topped +20 points per game every year but one. The one season when it fell below the 20-point benchmark to +16.2 points was in 2017, when Alabama won the national championship.

The past two seasons, their away scoring margin has been +11.8 points and +8.5 points per game.

“Here’s what I would say right now,” McElroy said. “Alabama, at the moment, their margin for error is smaller than it’s been in a while, and really the last two years, the margin for error has been really small. If they don’t play up to their standards, if they don’t play their A-game, they can get got. It used to be back in the day, whether it’s ’16, ’17, ’18, ‘9, ’11, ’12 — all those years when they were in some ways dominating the college football world — it took a remarkable performance from the opposition and Bama would have to play their B, B- game. They’d turn the football over. They’d give up big plays, what have you…That is what I mean by the margin being a little bit smaller.”