Paul Finebaum: USF game won't mean anything if Alabama starts winning again

Grant Grubbs09/18/23
Article written by:On3 imageGrant Grubbs


A bad game doesn’t have to become a bad season. Although Alabama looked sloppy in its 17-3 win over South Florida on Saturday, Paul Finebaum believes the showing will be forgotten at the price of a few wins.

“This game Saturday, there are a lot of there are a lot of reasons for that debacle, but they got out of it,” Finebaum said on “McElroy and Cubelic in the Morning.” “If they start winning again, that game won’t mean one thing.

“I’ve seen teams — and I know you have, Greg, you were the quarterback for one — that barely survived terrible performances and still won championships. I think that’s what [Nick Saban] has to be thinking about. Just let it go. Let’s let the critics say whatever they want. It won’t matter.”

History is on Alabama’s side

Greg McElroy understands Finebaum’s reasoning on a personal level. McElroy was the quarterback on Alabama’s 2009 national championship team; Saban’s first national title while at Alabama. While the Crimson Tide finished on top in 2009, they looked unimpressive early.

In Alabama’s 2009 season opener against Virginia Tech, McElroy completed just two of his first ten passes including an interception. The Tide trailed the Hokies 16–17 at halftime.

Eventually finding his rhythm, McElroy boosted the Crimson Tide to score 18 points in the fourth quarter, including a 22-yard touchdown pass to running back Mark Ingram. Alabama survived its sluggish start to defeat the Hokies 34–24.

Repeating the past

Just like in 2009, Finebaum believes this Alabama team must endure its non-ideal start.

“Get in there today and figure out a plan,” Finebaum said. “The temptation for Nick Saban is to do what he’s always done, but I do trust him in this particular manner to go with his gut on what this team can handle.”

Saban has earned that trust. On Monday, the 71-year-old coach discussed how he’s rebuilding his team’s confidence after a loss to Texas and an ugly win over USF.

“We talked about how everybody needs to buy into doing the things they need to do to make their contribution to the team to play winning football,” Saban said. “As time goes on, and the season goes on, everybody’s role gets a little bit more clearly defined.

“Some guys may be disappointed in their role, but they have to buy into that if they want to make a contribution to the team in a positive way. Whether it’s on special teams or you know, being a player that gets an opportunity because somebody’s down, whatever that might be.”

Alabama will need each player to exceed in their role this weekend. Alabama and No. 15 Ole Miss will face off on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast on CBS.