It's Over: SEC sports fans can shift their focus to spring football now (maybe some of you have already). The SEC is out of the NCAA Basketball Tournament - all eight invites including the overall No. 1 seed.
Auburn was bounced in the second round. Alabama followed on Friday in the Sweet 16. For the first time in tourney history, not a single No. 1 seed reached the Elite Eight.
The Crimson Tide has been that far just once, falling to 1-9 in Sweet 16 matchups. Alabama has been to 24 tourneys and never reached the Final Four.
This year was supposed to be a sure thing. I asked a hypothetical question prior to the tournament. Would you take the Final Four now or forego that for a chance at at title?
I picked the latter. Yes, it would be good to get the monkey off of the program's back, but this team had the makeup to win it all. And the ultimate is to win it - not just check the Final Four off the list.
The road to that Final Four couldn't have been better for Nate Oats and Bama. The bracket fell into place. The 2 seed Arizona exited early as did the other region favorites, leaving a mathcup with No. 5 seed and mid-major San Diego State and then the winner of a 6 vs. 15.
I realize that mid-majors have shown the Power Five teams. Many have fallen. And this is basketball where that is common.
Still, you can't convince me that San Diego State has Bama's talent. Brandon Miller said he still feels that Alabama had the best team. That may be the case, but you've got to prove it.
Miller and his teammates did not. And it is a choke. This team has had inconsistencies at times during the season. Again - that's basketball. But how do you shoot 3-of-27 on threes when that's your game?
Was this the best team Alabama has ever had? There have been several capable teams that have also underachieved.
People reference some of those teams in the 1970s under CM Newton. The 1975-76 team lost to Bobby Knight's championship Indiana team in the second round of the NCAAs. The field was 32 teams then.
The winningest team prior to this year's squad was Wimp Sanderson's 1986-87 squad. They were 28-5. They too were eliminated in the Sweet 16. Wimp had teams that had national title talent but never got past the Sweet 16.
Mark Gottfried's 2003-04 team was not the best but made the Elite Eight. That team was 8-8 in the SEC. The definitely overachieved.
Now Oats has had two SEC champions. Both have fallen to the Sweet 16 jinx.
Is Alabama a football team that can't win at the highest level in basketball? You can say that about several SEC teams that have never won a basketball championship. Only three SEC schoolos have done it; Kentucky, Florida and Arkansas.
The San Diego State folks used the "We Want Bama" thing that is often brought up when folks talk about the Crimson Tide football program.
"We Want Bama? No, we got Bama and beat Bama." The SDSU Men's Basketball post read.
I joked that Alabama fans picked Alabama in their brackets and Auburn fans picked somebody else. The same would be true if the shoe were on the other foot.
While many non-Bama fans still selected the Crimson Tide to win it all, most were hoping they would lose. Maybe that's partly a carry-over from football. Much is probably due to the basketball program's connection to the January incident in Tuscaloosa. Alabama was the villain.
Was that enough of a distraction to cost them in what was likely their best shot to finally win a championship? Although there is no doubt that the outside noise had an impact at some point this season, it's not an excuse. They won the SEC regular season and tournament titles despite it.
Will this program ever get over the hump and win a national title in basketball? Never say never, but there's a lot of history that says no.