Alabama football: Tide players embracing 'being the hated team' in college football
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Say hello to the bad guys.
It’s a question that has come up often in recent years, but it seems to be more prevalent this season: Is Alabama ruining college football?
Alabama has become the villains of college football over the years, and everyone tunes in. Fans love them, and detractors love to watch and hope they struggle or lose.
Things are so bad that former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said Alabama has “taken all of the fun out of it” on The Paul Finebaum Show Monday afternoon. Tuberville once held up six fingers after his Auburn Tigers defeated Alabama for the sixth straight time, so surely Alabama fans are enjoying his current sentiment.
Do Alabama’s players embrace the villain role?
“Yes. I think we like being the hated team. I know I do,” said Alabama safety Xavier McKinney. “It makes us play better, makes us perform well. So we try to keep that mind-set. We like that negative energy we get and try to turn it into positive.”
You’ll see Alabama’s players doing the opposing team’s celebrations (vs. Ole Miss) or directing the opposing team’s band (vs. Tennessee).
It’s all a part of the “we’re so much better than you and there’s nothing you can do about it” persona.
Alabama isn’t just beating teams. They’re annihilating them and taking their lunch money like a group of bullies in the process.
Score 31 points on Alabama like Arkansas did and you’ll still lose by 34 because the offense is too explosive. Hold Alabama to 29 points like LSU did and get shut out because Alabama’s defense is good, too.
There isn’t much opposing teams on Alabama’s schedule can do about it. Alabama has three-loss Mississippi State, The Citadel and three-loss Auburn at home going forward, all of which should be wins. There’s also Georgia in the SEC Championship Game.
The bar moves every single week for Alabama. An opponent is hyped up and given a chance, only for Alabama to completely dismantle them and have everyone say they haven’t played anyone.
Alabama is doing what every good team should do: beat who is on your schedule.
At this point, the only team that can seemingly beat Alabama is Alabama. While everyone outside the program is marveling at how good they are and wondering if they’re ruining the sport, Alabama coach Nick Saban is sticking to his message in hopes of helping the team avoid complacency.
“Moving forward, the battle gets very internal in terms of putting the last game behind you and looking forward to the challenges and the test of the future, so you can’t really be complacent or satisfied,” Saban said. “We need to put that behind us and get ready for the next team, Mississippi State, who is a very good team.”