ASK CFN - Was Bama Really THAT Good?
Posted Jan 20, 2012

Just how good was Bama? Why didn't Jarret Lee play? This and more in the latest ASK CFN.

2012 ASK CFN

Jan. 20 - Part One 

E-mail Pete Fiutak

Welcome back to the return of ASK CFN.  Fire over your questions, comments, and baskets of mini-muffins to, or you can tweet them to me. I might not be able to answer them all, but I promise they're all read.

- Jan 20 ASK CFN, Part 2 When is it okay to wear a jersey? What are the expectations for Urban Meyer in Year One? Will the SEC ever stop winning national titles?
Q: Just got back from deployment. Alabama demolished LSU. Were they really THAT good? - tweeted by dabbot14

A: Sort of.

First of all, welcome back. Yes, Alabama really was THAT good, filled with top-shelf NFL talents across the board and with a coaching staff on top of its game. Based on how good we thought the teams were the Tide was the CFN Preseason No. 1 team in America, but it's hard to properly compare and contrast this team with others on a historical scale because it didn't play anyone other than Arkansas with an offensive pulse.

The FBS offenses that Alabama faced this year were Kent State's (119th in total offense), Penn State's (95th), North Texas' (96th), Arkansas' (29th), Florida (105th), Vanderbilt (98th), Ole Miss (114th), Tennessee (104th), LSU's (98th), Mississippi State's (84th), and Auburn's (100th). The team that had the most success against the Tide D was Georgia Southern and its option attack that finished 13th in the FCS.

That's not to say Alabama's defense couldn't have stopped an Oregon, Oklahoma State, or Houston, but it didn't get the chance. On the other side, the offense was statistically among the SEC's best, but that's not exactly a tough beauty contest. The passing game was okay and the running game was terrific, but the attack didn't need to be explosive with a defense that was so strong.

Alabama was phenomenal in the BCS championship, but it didn't seem like LSU had anything in the bag. All season long the Tigers relied on getting the one big play that sparked the avalanche, but it never came and there wasn't a passing game to pick up the slack. The idea of running the option was a joke – the Tide coaching staff turned on that meatball of a pitch – and Jordan Jefferson was never going to throw his way into the game. The Tide linebackers knew what was coming; LSU's running game didn't execute; and the results were disastrous for the Tigers.

Yes, Alabama was THAT good. But LSU was also THAT mediocre in the biggest of games.

Q: Why oh why didn't Les Miles put in Jarrett Lee? Was that the dumbest coached big game ever? - C.P.

A: Really, what was Lee going to do? It's not like LSU was going to pull Joe Montana to give Steve Young a shot.

I get the idea of trying something, anything, to kick-start an attack that wasn't moving a lick, and it seemed crazy in hindsight to keep going with Jordan Jefferson even though nothing was working. However, LSU lived all year long through painful offensive dry spells only to end up winning time and again in blowout fashion. The offense didn't get a first down against Georgia and the Tigers won 42-10.

Remember, against Alabama it was only 15-0 in the fourth, and there was a moment when Jefferson appeared to change things up after taking off on a long run to get to midfield. It seemed like the offense was about to finally find the energy and the momentum to get going, and I'm sure the thought was that Jefferson was going to be Jefferson in time to find the type of miracle that led to several improbable wins over the years. Had the Tigers gotten into the end zone to make it a one score game, everything might have changed. Instead, the Tide D was brilliant, Jefferson stunk, and it was too late to get Lee in to do anything to turn things around.

Q: 2011 Alabama vs. 2010 Auburn. Who wins? SCREW TIDE, WAR EAGLE!!! - J.T.

A: Considering 2010 Alabama should've beaten 2010 Auburn and colossally gagged, the obvious answer might be the 2011 Tide. However, Cam Newton was the ultimate X factor, and the talent in the backfield was good enough that Auburn might have been able to run wide and do what LSU couldn't.

Newton threw for 216 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for 39 yards and a touchdown, in the win over Alabama, and he certainly wouldn't have gone nuts on the Tide D, but that Tiger team led a charmed life in every way imaginable.

2011 Alabama would've won because the defense would've turned out to be better than the Auburn offense. On the other side, with the way AJ McCarron produced against the 2011 LSU defense, he probably would've carved the mediocre 2010 Auburn secondary to shreds. Remember, Darron Thomas threw for 363 yards and two scores for Oregon against AU, and the Tide running game only gained 69 yards in the 2010 loss. Auburn did a great job of keeping the Duck ground attack in check, so it's not a lock that the Bama offense would've exploded, but overall this Tide team was better. Alabama would've gone into the game -6.5 or so, and it would've been a battle.

Q: THE TIDE DEFENSE WAS THE BEST EVER!!! Trent Richardson is better than most pro running backs and the line is full of NFL players. This team is like a pro team and was better than many of the bad NFL teams. Indianapolis? St. Louis? Tide would've won six games at least in the NFL this year. - T.B.

Q: With the way the Alabama defense destroyed LSU, how cold would it stop the Indianapolis Colts? Dan Orlovsky? I take the Tide. - R.P.

A: I welcome back the return of ASK CFN with an oldie but goodie staple. I mostly dealt with this throughout the mid-2000s when crazy USC fans were arguing their Reggie Bush teams were like an NFL squad, and every year we get a few chest-thumps from the fans of the national champion about how their beloved would stack up against the worst of the worst pro teams.

The 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide would lose to Indianapolis, St. Louis, and anyone other NFL team 56-0, and that would be after the pro team let up off the gas.

Alabama might be loaded with pro prospects, but the Indianapolis Colts already have actual pro players. How many Tide players from the 2009 national champion have rocked in the NFL so far? How many Tide players from this national title team will start at the next level? Even if everyone pans out and 15 players – and that's WAY high – end up starting, the Colts have 22 NFL starters and the depth to step in when needed. Literally, the NFL is a whole other level of talent.

The other part of the college vs. pro equation that most fans don't get is the preparation factor. Pro teams get in more than twice as much work. From film study, to practice time, to weight training, to the simple fact that the NFLers are full grown men with full grown bodies, there's a night-and-day difference between a team full of ultra-talented 18-22-year-olds and a team full of 23-to-32-year-olds.

I'll even do you one better. You could put together a team of Alabama players on the 2011 champion and in the pros and the Colts would STILL win in a walk. The linebacking corps of Rolando McClain, DeMeco Ryans, and Courtney Upshaw would be fine, and the running back combination of Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram would be strong, but it would be uh-oh time at quarterback with Brodie Croyle under center. There would be little depth and almost no firepower from the passing game if Julio Jones didn't rock.

Q: Now that all the dust is settling, where are all the teams playing? Is West Virginia in the Big 12, and didn't Connecticut move to the ACC? - J.L.

A: Connecticut is staying put for now. The ACC moves you're thinking of are Pitt and Syracuse, and they're not happening until 2014. West Virginia's situation is up in the air as the fight is in the courts at the moment. At the moment, the Mountaineers are playing in the Big East, but that could quickly change before ending up in the Big 12 in 2013.

Missouri and Texas A&M are officially in the SEC. Boise State, Houston, San Diego State, SMU and UCF are going to the Big East in 2013, and this year, TCU is in the Big 12 and Boise State, Fresno State, Hawaii, and Nevada have moved from the WAC to the Mountain West.

Also, don't forget about the new teams. UMass is joining the MAC and the divisions are realigning; South Alabama is in the Sun Belt; and Texas State and UT-San Antonio are joining the WAC. Here are all the conferences as they shape up for the 2012 season.

ACC: Atlantic – Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Maryland, NC State, Wake Forest
Coastal – Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech

Big East: Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Pitt, Rutgers, South Florida, Syracuse

Big 12: Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, TCU, Texas Tech, and West Virginia

Big Ten: Leaders – Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin

Legends – Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern

Conference USA: East – East Carolina, Marshall, Memphis, Southern Miss, UAB, UCF
West – Houston, Rice, SMU, Tulane, Tulsa, UTEP

Independents: Army, BYU, Navy, Notre Dame

MAC: East – Akron, Buffalo, Kent State, Massachusetts, Miami Univ., Ohio, Temple
West – Ball State, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois, Toledo, Western Michigan

Mountain West: Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV, Wyoming

Pac-12: North – California, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Washington, Washington State
Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, UCLA, USC, Utah

SEC: East – Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
West – Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Texas A&M

Sun Belt: Arkansas State, Florida Atlantic, FIU, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, South Alabama, Troy, UL-Lafayette, ULM, Western Kentucky

WAC: Idaho, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, San Jose State, Texas State, UT-San Antonio, Utah State

Q: What's happening next on the expansion front? There has to be another bomb out there to drop, right? Is Oklahoma in play? Is the SEC going to get bigger? What happened to all the Big Ten talk of grabbing Maryland or Rutgers? - I.E.

A: Expect things to be quiet for a little while. The SEC isn't going to do anything after bringing aboard Missouri and Texas A&M; the league wants to let the new formation breathe a little bit. The Big 12 is still waiting for West Virginia and is bringing in TCU.

While it might look at BYU and might sniff around a few other programs to keep building, the status quo should remain the same for a while. The Pac-12 apparently doesn't have any interest in making any huge moves with everyone happy with the influx of new money coming in and with so many major coaching changes. The ACC might try to raid the Big East again, but there aren't any rumblings at the moment.

Could the Big Ten come out of the blue and try to get Rutgers or Maryland like it was rumored to be interested in doing last year? Maybe, but all channels are silent right now. There might be a little move here or there – Louisiana Tech belongs in Conference USA – but if anything major is going on, no one's talking.

- Jan 20 ASK CFN, Part 2 When is it okay to wear a jersey? What are the expectations for Urban Meyer in Year One? Will the SEC ever stop winning national titles?