Nick Saban and Alabama have dominated college football for more than a decade. But after losing the National Championship to Georgia last January, should bettors be shy on Bama futures next season?
A-Day — Alabama’s big spring game — is back this weekend, which means so is college football betting. FOX Bet currently has the Crimson Tide as the favorites to win the College Football Playoff (CFP) at +200. It’s clear bookmakers are riding the Tide right into the next football season with Bama consistently at the top of the title odds across most sportsbooks. And rightfully so.
Alabama is the only school currently with three players ranked in the Top 10 of the 247Sports transfer portal recruiting rankings. That’s a mouthful, so let’s put it in simpler terms.
The Tide lost a lot of talent to the NFL Draft. They’re getting more talent through the portal. They’re still a disruptive force.
So let’s look at how the Crimson Tide have fared under Nick Saban’s tenure and get a glimpse into what the odds say could lie ahead for that team out of Tuscaloosa next season.
Per FOX Sports Research, since Saban’s first season with Alabama in 2007, he has gone 97-74-5 against the spread (ATS) and 160-18 straight up (SU) in the regular season. So Bama bettors have gotten a return on their investments during that time frame.
And when it comes to investing, Alabama’s athletic association is all-in on Nick. His current contract locks him in through the 2028 season. As head coach, he has racked up six national titles for the program and has gone 34-9 SU against Top 10 opponents since winning that first championship in 2009. It’s no surprise supporters and boosters are hedging the Tide’s future on Saban.
In addition to winning on the field and covering the spread, another facet of the Saban-Alabama success is development.
The program has sent approximately 106 players to the NFL since 2009. And the Saban era has produced four Heisman winners — Mark Ingram, Derrick Henry, DeVonta Smith and Bryce Young.
Saban develops coaches, too. His impressive coaching tree of former assistants who have led their own teams spans both the college football and NFL ranks. From former Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett to current Texas Longhorns coach Steve Sarkisian, the influence and imprint Saban continues to have on the game makes it hard to speculate that Alabama’s reign is coming to an end anytime soon.
Until you consider one particularly outstanding assistant, Georgia’s Kirby Smart. Smart and Saban faced off in January’s 2021 CFP title game, a matchup in which Alabama was an underdog (+3.5) for the first time in a national championship contest under Saban. Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs defeated the Crimson Tide 33-18, winning their first national title in 41 years and handing Saban only his third loss in a title game.
Can fans and gamblers expect Nick and Alabama to bounce back next season after getting outsmarted on college football’s biggest stage?
To answer that, let’s look at Saban & Co.’s records against the spread and straight up following their first two national title game losses.
After losing both the 2016 and 2018 title games to Clemson, Alabama went a combined 13-14 ATS and 24-3 SU in the seasons after those defeats. Based on that, fading Bama against the spread might earn you some cash during college football.
And despite the ebbs and flow of players entering the transfer portal and the NFL Draft, according to FOX Bet sports trader AJ Devine, Bama’s future is still bright.
“In general, other than a quarterback or another star skill player, a transfer portal pickup wouldn’t usually induce a change in our overall championship title odds,” Devine noted.
“The same goes for the NFL Draft. We had a good idea of who would be staying and leaving back in January when we posted our opening odds, so not much changed there — especially for Alabama who has the talent to reload even when star players do leave.”
Devine did note that even though his team already baked into the title odds players leaving for the NFL, getting a player like Tyler Steen through the portal could potentially shift the team’s SEC Championship odds.
So with A-Day around the corner, is there any spring game scenario that could shift the Tide’s title lines?
“It’s tough to shorten their odds even more. So as long as everyone stays healthy, don’t expect any movement after Alabama’s spring exhibition.”
From a historical perspective, there’s little reason to think that last year’s championship loss will dismantle the dynasty. From a betting perspective? Well, that is where we will wait and see. The small sample size above, however, might make you want to consider fading the Tide to cover on a game-to-game basis.
If you’re ready to bet on Saban and Bama next season, head over to FOX Bet and get in on the action now!
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