For the first time since the 2010 season, Alabama will enter its annual late November game against Auburn with two losses after dropping its second game of the season to LSU in Week 10.
The loss all but ends Alabama's hopes of getting to the SEC Championship Game and competing for a national championship in Nick Saban’s 16th season in Tuscaloosa.
It’s been an unusual season for the Crimson Tide, which needed last-second heroics to beat Texas and Texas A&M before allowing 52 points to Tennessee in a Week 7 loss.
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The team has been undisciplined, 129th in the nation with 8.7 penalties per game.
It has former Alabama quarterback and national champion Greg McElroy concerned about the future of the program under Saban.
“This is the first time I have ever actually been concerned about the future of the program. The first time,” McElroy said on the “Always College Football” podcast. “I have seen them lose when people have said the dynasty is over. I've seen people back in 2014 say this team will never regain their prowess and their strength. I've seen coach after coach after coach depart for what they might consider to be greener pastures.
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“I've seen everything that this program has endured the last several years, and I have never been concerned about whether or not they'd be better tomorrow than they were today. I always thought, regardless of where the program was at, that as long as Nick Saban was there, they're going to be just fine.”
McElroy, who played under Saban from 2007-2010, says Alabama has strayed from what has made the program one of the greatest of all time.
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“Well, right now, Alabama feels like it’s at a little bit of a crossroads,” McElroy continued.
“There needs to be a legitimate effort from Nick Saban to bring in some coaches that understand what this program looks like and what this program needs to look like.”
While McElroy did say that he doesn't believe this is the end of Alabama's run, his message echoes that of college football analyst Paul Finebaum, who sounded the alarm on Alabama following its 17-penalty performance against Tennessee.
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“I saw a lot of troubling signs, Stephen A. [Smith], and what I saw the most are a bad trajectory for Alabama,” Finebaum said on “First Take” following Week 7. “They’re going the wrong direction.
“I mentioned it earlier about the penalties. This is an undisciplined team, Stephen A. And if I can say this to you without you going apoplectic, this is not a well-coached team. I know who the coach is. He’s Nick Saban, but this is the third time this year he’s been out-maneuvered and out-coached by the other guy. Alabama could easily, easily have lost three games.”
Alabama faces No. 11 Ole Miss on Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.