Can this Tide team break the cycle?

Published 2:09 pm Tuesday, August 11, 2009

We’ve seen this before. While the Alabama football team seems destined for another successful season—I picked the Crimson Tide to win the Southeastern Conference’s Western Division, if you’ll remember—fans of the program need to keep their expectations in check. A preseason No. 5 ranking in the USA Today/Coaches’ poll won’t help.

Why does a fan base’s mindset matter? Because coach Nick Saban told us so. In the aftermath of the Sugar Bowl debacle, Saban seemed to indicate there is some kind of connection between the attitudes taken by players and fans.

So, this ‘Bama being back thing should be taken one step at a time. The next step is avoiding a letdown season. Alabama football since 1996 has been mired in a vicious cycle. A 10-win season (those occurred in ‘96, 1999, 2002, 2005) has been followed by a disastrous season (1997, 2000, 2003, 2006) then a mediocre season (1998, 2001, 2004, 2007).

Well, ‘Bama won 12 games in 2008, so it should follow that 2009 will see the team struggle.

Again, I don’t think it will happen. ‘96 was the last year of Gene Stallings’ tenure—and the beginning of a period that saw NCAA sanctions, questionable hirings and several firings—and Alabama now seems to have a stable coaching situation for the first time since.

But fans should remember just how bad things were during the decade lasting from 1997-2007 before assuming anything this season.