BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — As 2019 comes to an end, a year of college football that can best be described as “good, but not good enough” for Alabama, Auburn and UAB is wrapping up.
Collectively, it’s safe to say that the Tide, Tigers and Blazers aren’t fully satisfied with the whole body of work by their respective programs this year and sights are set on 2020.
For the first time in the CFP playoff era, Alabama is on the outside looking in. Head coach Nick Saban is already turning the page to 2020 as the Tide prepare for the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1.
“2020 is all about a recommitment to excellence,” said Jim Dunaway, co-host of the “JOX Roundtable” on WJOX 94.5 and former co-anchor at CBS 42. “This program will reshape itself, it’ll redefine itself and with the people who come back and are part of that. They’ll see a refocused Nick Saban.”
A positive ending on the Plains has Auburn riding big momentum into next year.
“We had a lot to prove, we really did,” quarterback Bo Nix said. “We lost those three tough games and we battled and it shows a lot for our team and how coaches kept us in it, didn’t let us split apart.”
With a season of experience on his side, Nix will be even more comfortable in head coach Gus Malzahn’s offense.
“He’ll get Seth Williams and a couple of those receivers back,” said Cole Cubelic, SEC Network analyst and co-host of JOX’s “3 Man Front.” “They’ll have better communication, a better feel, better continuity as to what it’s going to look like next season.”
But on the other side, some big-name players are graduating. Will it be a year of rebuilding or reloading for the Auburn defense?
“It’s not going to be a rebuild because the scheme is going to be the same,” Cubelic said. “They’re going to run the same defense and they had guys like Miller and Trusdale that played a lot of snaps at defensive line. If you keep Nick Coe around, that helps a lot.”
For UAB, a disappointing loss to Florida Atlantic doesn’t define the season. The Blazers returned to the conference title game after being picked to finish fourth. Head coach Bill Clark knows the future is as bright as ever in Birmingham.
“That wasn’t out goal,” Clark said. “We didn’t say we are glad to be here and just show up. I think for our program to be where we are, I just want to say how proud I am of coaches and players.”
Alabama and Auburn will kick off the New Year in Florida with the Tide in Orlando for the Citrus Bowl against Michigan and the Tigers in Tampa for the Outback Bowl against Minnesota. Both are looking to start 2020 with a big win.
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