losing both Tommy Wilcox to Alabama and John Fourcade to Ole Miss in '78 was the precursor to his dismissal.
Fourcade didn't matter. He was irrelevant and the war had already been lost by then.
Wilcox was the end. When it became apparent that Bryant could walk into Louisiana and take the best players from right under Mac's nose, there was no way Mac could ever compete. And, predictably, he never did again.
It's much like the current situation with Saban walking into Louisiana and taking the top players for the last couple of years and winning NCs while Miles trips over himself. Like Mac, he's lost any chance of competing with Alabama, and we are headed for another dozen or so years with a coach we can't fire who will never compete with Alabama.
It's our own fault. They don't give a shite who they fire or what they look like when they do. For them, it's win the fricking national championship or get the frick out. For us, it's (officially now)..."not about winning championships", it's about almost winning them.