Paul Finebaum says altered season could be 'real challenge' for Nick Saban
These are unsettling times in college football as COVID-19 concerns continue to cast a dark cloud on the sport’s upcoming season. While the future is still very much up in the air, perhaps the only certainty is that this season, if there is one, will feature its fair share of complications.
ESPN college football personality Paul Finebaum believes those uncertainties could be especially tough on Nick Saban. During a Thursday interview with Crimson Tide Sports Networks Roger Hoover, Finebaum explained his thoughts, stating that the head coach’s patented process could be put to the test over the next year.
“I think it could be a real challenge for Nick Saban,” Finebaum said. “I say that because Nick Saban is a process-oriented person. You know that. That’s what his motto is. The thing about the process is it’s consistent, everything’s the same. And everything might not be the same.
“On a Monday, Nick Saban might be getting ready for Georgia, and Greg Byrne knocks on his door and says, ‘We’re not playing the game this weekend.’ Nick Saban does not want to hear that. Nick Saban only knows what’s in front of him. I think it will be a real challenge.”
Finebaum went on to say he expects Saban to be able to adjust to the changes, calling the head coach “one of the most adaptable people I’ve ever seen,” while crediting him for how he has handled coaching staff turnovers the past few years as well as the loss of starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to injury last season.
Still, this could be Saban’s most challenging feat yet.
Alabama is currently awaiting the SEC’s decision on a scheduling plan for the upcoming season which could be announced later Thursday. Wednesday, the ACC announced a move to an 11-game scheduling model which will see teams play 10 conference games plus one non-conference game that must take place in the state of the ACC team. That model comes after the Big Ten and Pac-12 announced their plans to move to a conference-only schedule earlier this month.
The SEC will meet later Thursday to discuss its plans for the upcoming season with reports stating that the conference is leaning toward a 10-game conference-only schedule.
“Fans who are still thinking this is a normal college football season need to adjust,” Finebaum said. “There won’t be anything normal about it… All you have to do is look at baseball, look at the NBA, none of it looks the same. I think of all the sports, college football will look the least normal.”
Despite his concerns for the upcoming season, Finebaum wasn’t all doom and gloom regarding Alabama. The talk-show host said this is “one of the best Alabama teams I have seen on paper,” while stating he projects the Tide to win the national title if the season gets that far.
“I think they have everything,” Finebaum said. “They have a quarterback who may not be as good as last year’s starting quarterback, but he’s good enough. And the backup may be better — where have we heard that before? With Najee Harris, with a really strong offensive line, the defense is solid across the board, and Nick Saban, I think, has been on a mission. While a lot of coaches were at home trying to figure out what the next move was in March and April, Nick Saban was working every day. He figured out a way to deal with his team, and he especially figured out a way to deal with recruits, which has been evidenced by all the commitments lately.
“I’ve done this a few times before, but I really think Alabama will win the national championship if we get that far. I think there is motivation. I think there’s experience. The coaching staff is solid, and what I mean by that is that it hasn’t been rocked by as much change as we have seen in recent years. Alabama over the last 10 years, in the years that it has missed has not missed by very much. I just think this team looks really good.”