TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The season's over and Alabama still has a dozen games left.
After an embarrassing 19-point loss to Auburn last Thursday, Alabama returned home to lose to Tennessee 76-59 on Saturday.
Alabama is now 9-12 overall and dropped to 3-5 in SEC play after the loss to Tennessee. This loss is the team's fourth in five games and is a third game out of four in which the Crimson Tide never had the lead. Losing on the road has been common for the Crimson Tide this season. The team hasn't won away from Tuscaloosa since February of 2013. But home court has always been a safe place for Alabama. Even the sanctitude of Coleman Coliseum has taken a nosedive this season.
Crimson Tide coach Anthony Grant had no real response for his team's play.
"Tennessee was a better team tonight," Grant said. "They had an answer for everything that we threw up."
This was also the 11th different starting lineup from Alabama. No player has started every game this year, not even Trevor Releford. Grant is apparently still trying to sort out his team, trying to put the right pieces together in February.
Now the task becomes motivating the team to play every game, Releford says that responsibility falls on him.
“You can’t quit, you have to keep motivating," Releford said. "As a senior, I have to keep trying to lead like coach tells me every day. I have to stick with it and that’s what I have to try to do throughout the rest of the season.”
And even more disappointing than potentially not making a postseason tournament is failing to surround the stellar Releford with a winning team.
"He’s battling. I feel bad for him," Grant said. "I hate to see a guy not be able to have the success he deserves with what he’s meant to our program and everything he’s done."
Alabama hasn't finished a season with a losing record since 1999. That note may have to be updated to 2013 if the Crimson Tide keep playing like this.
"Any time you lose, that's always going to be a challenge for any coach," Grant said. "My thing right now is trying to get our team to understand in terms of the adversity that we're going through, the character that we need to have and the individual pride and the individual competitive nature that you've got to have in these situations."
While Grant is under contract through 2019, the continued failures of this team may shorten his stint in Tuscaloosa.