Below are my three “short takes” on the game.
1. Look out, here comes Alabama again: This isn’t nearly the best team Nick Saban has had at Alabama. But with a dominating defense and one of the nation’s best running backs in Derrick Henry (189 yards, one touchdown), the Tide certainly is capable of winning a national championship. This makes two straight SEC titles and four in the last seven seasons under Saban, and if the Tide can win two playoff games it would be Saban’s fifth national title overall (four at Alabama, one at LSU). Alabama surely will face tougher offenses in the playoffs than Florida, which was held to one scoring possession, seven first downs and 180 yards in offense (15 rushing) by Kirby Smart’s defense. Also, 81 of Treon Harris’s 165 passing yards came on a meaningless late touchdown drive. Florida went 0-for-11 on third down. The other playoff teams are going to have a difficult time handling Alabama’s defensive front.
2 Is this it for Nick Saban? This seems to be an annual discussion. The 64-year coach obviously has nothing left to prove and occasionally speaks about the difficulty of dealing with annual high (and sometimes unrealistic) expectations in Tuscaloosa. Paul Finebaum, a long-time Alabama sportstalk radio host, speculated this past week that if Alabama wins another national title, he wouldn’t be surprised if Saban stepped away. There was a time when I believed Saban wanted to try the NFL one more time after his abbreviated tenure with the Miami Dolphins. I now doubt that because of his age. But would he retire? Nothing would shock me but I tend to doubt it. Then again, I thought Mark Richt wouldn’t want to coach again, or at least take a year off after the Georgia firing. He took a job four days later.
3 About the SEC East: Wow, so this was the best SEC East Division had to offer? Alabama’s win was the seventh straight conference title for an SEC West team (Alabama four, Auburn two, LSU one). The last East team to win the conference championship was Florida in 2008, and that Gators team was superior to this one. I know Georgia fans are depressed/angry/disenchanted about not making it to the title game the last three seasons but the Gators didn’t forecast greatness for next season. Defensively, they’re good, but they eventually wore down. Offensively, they’re a train wreck. Florida’s biggest question is the same as Georgia’s: Can it improve at the quarterback position? Top recruit Jacob Eason verbally committed to the Bulldogs and signed his financial papers, but there’s now concern he will flip to Miami (Mark Richt) or Florida. I would think Florida is the greater threat because Miami already is set at the quarterback position.• Recent ramblings • If Alabama’s defense is a sign, Kirby Smart is ready to be a head coach • Here’s hoping Mark Richt is doing this for right reasons • Weekend Predictions: Alabama restores order after a wacky week • Blog: Miami makes a great hire; did Richt make a great decision? • On Kirby Smart, coordinators, loud but effective strength coach (video) • Kirby Smart hire makes sense for Georgia, even if wow factor lacking • Richt will enjoy quiet for first time, may be done coaching • Greg McGarity’s career will be defined by first major hire • Falcons have a problem, and surprisingly it’s their quarterback • Richt’s firing confirms what many believed: It was time for a change • McGarity mum on Richt, and Georgia’s win doesn’t feel like a celebration • Short takes on Georgia’s win • Johnson, Bobinski confident about Tech’s future • Weekend Predictions: Dogs over Jackets in Bad Aura Bowl • A new tradition, in the spirit of Furman Bisher: Giving thanks (to those who deserve it) • Overreaction Monday: Richt’s status, Ryan’s fall, and does Tech have a chance? • Georgia Tech loses Justin Thomas, ball and all hope • Short takes: Jackets lose Thomas, fumble nine times (yes, nine) • Weekend Predictions: It’s marshmallow opponent week • Coppolella tired of being roasted, says, ‘We are not tanking’ • Roddy White has survived far worse things than reduced role in offense: tragedy • Why are those Freeman T-shirts included in Braves’ clearance sale? • Overreaction Monday: Richt’s ploy, Falcons’ bye, Braves’ salary dump • Jeremy Pruitt’s defense is salvaging Georgia’s season • Short takes on Georgia’s win over Auburn • Simmons gone, and Braves’ offseason already looking like last one • Weekend Predictions: It’s not a good time to invest in Georgia • Former Georgia player Faloughi at center of Missouri protests • Overreaction Monday: Kyle Shanahan, have you met Roddy White? • Latest Falcons’ embarrassment is on Dan Quinn • Short takes: This Falcons’ loss is on Dan Quinn • Weekend Predictions: Dogs in middle of Dysfunction Junction • Georgia’s finish, Eason status shouldn’t tilt Richt decision • Richt should take over Georgia’s struggling offense • Overreaction Monday: Loss-loss-loss means chaos all around • Mark Richt has failed too many big moments — it’s time for a change at Georgia • Falcons may be 6-2 but they don’t look the part • Short takes: Sloppy Falcons gift-wrap game for mediocre Bucs • Matt Ryan: ‘It comes down to me being better’