When Nick Saban talks about defense, smart folks drop whatever it is they're doing to listen. So when one of the game's greatest defensive minds ever talks about the expectations for elite defenses have shifted in the modern age of college football, it is going to carry some significant weight.
Last night, while giving a virtual talk to the LHSCA coaches clinic, Saban shared some thoughts on why we shouldn't be expecting elite defenses to return anytime soon.
"We have a good defense. I mean, we gave up 19 points per game last year and that was first in the SEC. 19 points per game. That is six points above what we feel is average, which is giving up 13 points per game...and it's first in the SEC.
Back in 2011, Alabama fielded, arguably, one of the best defenses in college football history where they allowed just over 8 points per game over the course of a 13 game season.
"The game is different now. People score fast. The whole idea - like I grew up with the idea that you play good defense, you run the ball, you control vertical field position on special teams, and you're going to win. Whoever rushes the ball the most, for the most yardage is going to win the game. You're not going to win anything now doing that."
"The way the spread is, and the way that the rules are, to run RPOs, the way the rules are that you can block downfield and throw the ball behind the line of scrimmage, those rules have changed college football. No-huddle, fast ball has changed college football.
"So I changed my philosophy five or six years ago, well it was more than that, so when Lane came here, and we said 'We have to out score them.'"
Kiffin joined Saban's staff in 2014 and helped to usher bring the modern era of college football in Tuscaloosa, and Saban's view on how to win football games has been forever changed since.
Hear Saban's full comments in the clip.