With Alabama's loss to Auburn on Saturday, its College Football Playoff hopes are officially over, marking the first year the Tide won't appear in the CFP. The loss of a talent like Tua Tagovailoa will always hurt, but they also gave up 48 points in the loss, the most ever under Nick Saban.
As is often the case when a dynastic powerhouse collapses like Alabama did, the "sky is falling" takes come hot and heavy. Paul Finebaum brought his on Sunday morning's edition of SportsCenter, where he said that Saban's window at Alabama is closing:
"Nick Saban. He's the head coach. He promised after the 28-point loss to Clemson that the Alabama factor would be reestablished. Has anyone seen it? I haven’t," Finebaum said. "There's not enough discipline on this team."
"When you also think about whether this dynasty is dead, it may not be dead, the window certainly seems to be closing," he added.
Finebaum isn't wrong in his observation that Alabama's self-inflicted wounds likely cost it the Auburn game and a chance at the CFP. Saban's age also plays a factor in discussing how much longer Alabama can do this; he is 68, after all, and while he likes to project the image of an ironman coach, Father Time remains undefeated. The window is probably closing, if only in light of that.
Barring unforeseen health concerns, Saban probably has three or four good years left. He regularly stacks the roster with blue-chip talent, and the guys sitting on his bench are usually more talented than half the starters on the opposite sideline.
Alabama hasn't looked invincible in recent years, but it's still considered the preeminent college football program in America, and will continue to be until it actually, truly falls. Hard to see that happening while Saban is still at the helm.