Paul Finebaum, ESPN's First Take crew spar over the idea that Alabama's dynasty is closing
Since Alabama lost the Iron Bowl on Saturday, ESPN analyst Paul Finebaum has said that coach Nick Saban’s dominance of college football is coming to an end.
Finebaum doubled down on those comments on a Wednesday segment on ESPN’s “First Take,” after the latest rankings came out Tuesday night from the College Football Playoff committee that dropped Alabama to No. 12. Finebaum said the dominance is from Saban winning 5 out of 9 national championships, and possibly could have won another title if Clemson’s Deshaun Watson hadn’t rescued the Tigers.
“I think that window is closing, I’m not saying it’s shut tight,” Finebaum said. “I’m not saying he can’t win another title, although I think it’s going to be more difficult, especially when the conversation gets to places like this.”
Stephen A. Smith, meanwhile, countered Finebaum’s argument with a question about LSU’s Ed Orgeron and Georgia’s Kirby Smart rising to the top on a consistent basis. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, though, has convinced Smith that he has staying power in the national championship conversation.
“I’m not closing the door on Nick Saban, because I don’t know about those others, now Dabo Swinney is a different matter,” Smith said, referring to Clemson’s proven success in recent years. “… It is entirely plausible to me that we could see a run over the next 3 or 4 years where it’s Dabo and it’s Nick Saban all over again?”
Max Kellerman is squarely on the Swinney train as he mentioned that this era of college football could be transitioning from Saban to Swinney as the top coach. Saban became the best coach in college football because he could recruit and coach players better than anyone else, Kellerman said.
“If Clemson wins the national championship this year, not only is the Saban Era over, but we are in the Dabo Era,” Kellerman said.
Smith said, “So long as you keep your argument to Dabo, I’m down with it.”
Finebaum also added that Saban’s age, at 68, is an issue, and a little bit of worry is beginning to creep in. But Smith said it’s not about age, but temperament, and doesn’t believe the same conversation would be had about Swinney if he was Saban’s age.
Here’s the clip from NCAA College Football Live: