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Could Alabama Beat an NFL Team? Are We Actually Having This Conversation?

TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 29:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide waits to lead his team onto the field to face the Mississippi Rebels at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 29, 2012 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Adam KramerNational College Football Lead WriterNovember 1, 2012

It’s a question that comes up every now and then—especially when we have a dominant team in the college ranks—and it’s surfacing quite a bit in 2012 thanks to Alabama’s impressive group.

Could Alabama beat the worst team in the NFL?

Before I douse this “debate” in gasoline, strap it with C4 and toss it into the nearest volcano while shooting it with a machine gun, let’s first assess the latest rumblings and where this is surfacing from once again.

Look no further than the Ol' Ball Coach. 

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Steve Spurrier had thoughts on this, and he shared those thoughts in an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show when asked about Alabama.

“Alabama, gosh, they look like they could beat a couple of those NFL teams that I’ve watched on Sundays,” Spurrier said. “I think a lot of the oddsmakers out there, that usually know what’s going on, I’d guess Alabama would be favored by a little bit.”  

Where to begin…

First, don’t put your angst toward Spurrier and his consistent ability to say something sound bite-worthy into the nearest audio recording device. It’s a superpower of his; it’s what he does. And most of the time we love him for it.

He’s also currently serving a five-month sentence in the SEC cabin, and Alabama is hogging the Jacuzzi and the steam room. The team is everywhere, and outside of having to compete with the Tide, SEC coaches are asked to answer questions about their dominance each and every week. The combination of both film and reputation has clearly given the Ol’ Ball Coach a nasty case of SEC cabin fever. 

Or, perhaps this is Steve Spurrier wearing his finest trolling (definition here) hat. He's certainly capable of such advanced audio warfare, and it wouldn't be the first time. Won't be the last, either. 

As for that “oddsmakers” bit that Spurrier referred to, well, let’s dive deeper into this hypothetical scenario to examine the impossible.

Todd Fuhrman, an oddsmaker and analyst from Donbest.com, told me the Chiefs would be a 27.5-point favorite over Alabama in this game. A team that struggles to score against anyone in the NFL would be nearly a four-touchdown favorite against college football’s elite.

Again, this is all wildly hypothetical, but it is interesting to hear a Vegas perspective showcasing just how significant he feels this talent gap would be.

Are you surprised by this? I certainly hope not.

To further express my reflections, allow me to answer some thoughts thrown out by the popular NFL blog Pro Football Talk on Twitter regarding this very issue.

 

Given that 5 rookie QBs are playing well right now, is it that ridiculous to think a great college team could compete with a bad NFL team?

ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) October 31, 2012

 

Yes, actually, it is ridiculous. Take Andrew Luck (this year, last year, whatever) and put him on the college team of your choosing. It’s the other positions—particularly offensive and defensive line, let’s start there—where you will see how wide this gap is.

As important as the quarterback position is, the difference in talent at the other 21 positions would be so collectively large, it wouldn’t matter. I would assume that this part of the equation has been thought through if we truly are going down this impossible worm hole—although, perhaps it hasn't.

 

I've always believed the best college team would get killed by the worst NFL team.But success of rookie QBs has me wondering.

ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) October 31, 2012

 

No, sir. See above. Your original belief sounds fabulous, though. Go back to that.

Again, what about the five guys tasked with blocking an NFL defensive line? Also, those quarterbacks are playing with, yep, NFL players. Some with NFL stars.

Oh no, the hypothetical is engulfing my soul.

 

Another twist:Could a college all-star team compete with the worst NFL teams?

ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) October 31, 2012

 

This "college all-star team" you speak of is interesting. Wait, isn't that basically just an NFL team that selects the best players from college? Also, Alabama fans will tell you their current team is an all-star team, and I wouldn't offer up a rebuttal.

We have enough to handle with this little topic, and that will not end well.

 

From 1934-76, NFL champ played college all-stars in an exhibition game.College team won nine times.Two ties.

ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) October 31, 2012

 

Although I would absolutely love to see this post-Super Bowl matchup once again—let’s just replace the Pro Bowl with it and give all the money to charity—this dream scenario will not happen.

In terms of the results of this Chicago College All-Star Game (which can be seen here), gasoline was 70 cents per gallon in 1976 and 10 cents per gallon in 1934. And as drastic as those changes are, the physical differences in the athletes that play professional and collegiate football are even more significant.

Look, I love college football and will gladly go to bat for it on a variety of fronts. This, however, is not one of those areas. I don't care what time of the night of it is or how good the specials at the bar are. It will not happen—not with Alabama or the next elite squad rich with talent.

As good and as dominant as Alabama is, and as much NFL talent as the Tide have on their team, the idea that it could possibly compete with an NFL team compiled of only former college stars is ridiculous. The players on the practice squad of an NFL team are former stars. Hell, the water boys in the NFL probably have game. 

This isn’t an insult to Alabama or other talented teams, but instead a realistic approach when it comes to this significant talent gap. Seriously, don't be "that guy" or gal who tries to make a case for a closer game or even an upset. Just don't. It makes us all look bad.

Let's debate something more comforting—like politics, religion or the BCS—instead.

Pete Carroll, a man that has coached quite a bit at both levels, summed it up rather perfectly on the Dan Patrick Show (h/t CBS Sports):

I was confronted with that at times [at USC], and the falsehood is to think that it could ever take place -- it ain't even close. Alabama's got a great team, and Nick is a fantastic coach, but when you match up the interior lines against NFL teams on either side of the ball, it wouldn't even be close. Skill-wise and in their development, most of his guys are going to play in the NFL. But at that time, when they're still in college, they're not ready for it. I used to say that -- don't kid yourself. It's not the receivers or the running backs; it's what would happen up front that would be tremendously shocking to a college team.

Now, if you want to debate whether an exceptional high school team could beat Colorado, I’m all for it.

I’m kidding…I think.

Where can I comment?

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