The road we took led us to where we are today. After the last 14 years, I wouldn't go back and change a thing except maybe fire Franphoney instead of letting him quit.If Stallings had lasted a few more years, I agree that the Dubosian problems would never have happened. But I’m not sure we would have won any more championships. I do think the game had passed him by, and while we would have been a tough physical opponent, I’m not sure we could have scored enough to win. We’d perpetually have been 9-3 / 8-4 with multiple woulda-coulda-shouldas.
While the OL downfield was still 1 yard, the pass interference rules (and more importantly, the way they’re enforced on the field) were changing and evolving away from Stallings-style smash mouth. I’m not sure we could have recruited QBs or WRs, and maybe not OL. Which would have led to a shortage in talent, and the self-perpetuating spiral begins.
To me, the difference between a really good coach (which Stallings was) and a great coach (Bryant and Saban) is the ability to evolve. Bryant did and Saban has. I don’t think Stallings was capable of that. Kind of like Les Miles.
It would have been interesting to see who would have replaced Stallings in, say, 2000. We probably wouldn’t have had the second round of NCAA problems. Would Dubose have received the fanbase’s support the way he did in 1996? I know Stallings thought he wasn’t ready in 1996, and was deafening in his silence after the fact.
Would 4 more years of seasoning have changed Stallings’ perception? Would it have changed Dubose? I kind of think not — bottom line is that his highest and best use was as a DL coach. He just wasn’t that smart, on a number of fronts. Simply didn’t have either the broader perspective or higher-level thought processes.
So if not Dubose, who would have replaced Stallings In 2000? Guess we’ll never know, but it’s fun to speculate during the offseason.