I’m not going to lie, this owns me…
In the aftermath of the Nick Saban-to-Texas non-event, I saw this article on ESPN.com:
This just in: He’d like to win a few more … at Alabama. But he also knows that this next stretch will present some daunting challenges.
“I’m looking at it like we’ve got to start all over again, that this is 2007 again,” Saban told ESPN.com Saturday after agreeing to a long-term extension with Alabama.
“We’ve had a lot of success here, but we’re going to have a new quarterback next year and lots of challenges. Some of the issues on our team this year had to do with complacency and winning too much. We have to get back to having the kind of character, attitude and competitive spirit that we need to have.
“So there are plenty of challenges here. I’m going to spend my time trying to fix those.”
So what’s the deal here? If I had to pick a place to go back to in the Saban era in Tuscaloosa, it wouldn’t exactly be 2007.
Does he mean there are a few players with character and work ethic issues that are undermining the program?
Is he setting us up for a multiple loss season because of losses at key positions at quarterback?
Or is he simply saying it’s time to put all of the trophies on the shelves and get back to “the process?”
My guess would be there’s some of all three to be handled.
The last four years have been a special time in Alabama football history. Three national championships in four years. A nineteen game winning streak. Two conference championships. A Heisman trophy winner and multiple finalists for the award. Banner recruiting years. We’ve definitely been blessed.
But at the same time, so much success builds pressure and expectations that can be unbearable. You get every opponents best shot every week. You’re in the media glare all the time. The game becomes more about not losing than about the joys of winning. To some degree, that’s why players want to play for Alabama. But the pressure can takes it’s toll.
I won’t be surprised if 2014 is a down year for the Tide. A new quarterback. The loss of a leader like C.J. Mosley. Playing in a super-tough division (likely with the defending national champions) and conference. There are definitely a lot of challenges ahead.
But it just may be that 2014 is like 2007 and sets the stage for another golden era of ‘Bama football.
For several of us, the Nick Saban-to-Texas story never really gained traction.
Why? I think because it never really made sense. Saban doesn’t lack anything in Tuscaloosa. There’s not a sense that he’s missing out on something. Short of a Lombardi trophy, he can accomplish everything he wants to right where he is.
But this point of view never made sense to others, media included.
Why? I think for several reasons:
* Many want to see the ‘Bama dynasty toppled and the easiest way for that to happen is for Nick Saban to go somewhere else.
* Many – or at least more than should – have the idea that Saban is disingenuous. He’s not really happy. He’s a rolling stone. He did it to us, he’ll do it to you. He “lied” in Miami. Whatever. Some just want to think that Saban isn’t telling the truth so, therefore, he must be headed to Texas.
* The media loves a good story. They don’t necessarily love facts, but they do love a story. And the above two items – couple with running Mack Brown out of Austin, were the perfect mix to fill part of the lull before bowl season.
Because of all of the above, it really didn’t make sense for Saban to comment earlier than he did. But when he did, he cleared the decks:
“The way this sort of got spun, it was a little bit more like, ‘OK, he got a new contract at Alabama, so he’s going to stay at Alabama instead of going to Texas,'” Saban told ESPN.com on Saturday. “I never considered going to Texas. That wasn’t even a conversation.”
The same folks probably won’t believe this, but who cares?
In case you haven’t heard, Nick Saban is sticking around:
I haven’t posted about it around here, but have maintained that this was really a non-issue. As time passes, and things leak out, it’ll be interesting to see how big of a non-issue this really was.
As mentioned, Nick Saban appeared on GameDay yesterday from Indianapolis:
He did a great job, of course. Here are a couple of the highlights…
On Iron Bowl decision making:
“Well I think when you create difficult situations for yourself in circumstances in the game, it makes for really difficult decisions as a coach,” Saban said. “Obviously when those things don’t work, you wish you did something else. But I’m very proud of the way our team competed and improved this year. We didn’t play the way we wanted to in the second half of the game that was a personification of lack of attention to detail and discipline to execute.
“And I think there’s a lot of lessons for our team to learn from that.”
It’s a good answer, I guess, but kind of a non-answer. He can’t exactly call out his field goal kicker for missing kicks and putting his decision making in a box.
On the emotional and physical strain of the Iron Bowl:
“Tommy Tuberville was the coach at Auburn and he and I were pretty close,” he said. “We used to talk about trying to get the Iron Bowl moved up a week so we’d have two weeks before the SEC Championship Game because it was such an emotional and physical game. So this may be a telltale sign for Auburn, although I think Auburn has a really good team.”
Well, I couldn’t tell any ill-effects on Auburn yesterday.
On Missouri’s defensive line:
“I think Missouri has the best defensive front in our league — to be able to rush and play the run,” he said. “So it’s going to be very important in this game to control the line of scrimmage because if you let Auburn go four, five, six, seven yards a carry, they go fast, they create a tempo to the game and I think that’s the real key for Missouri to be successful.”
I think maybe coach Saban swung and missed here. That outstanding defensive front helped give up 545 yards rushing to Auburn yesterday.
According to AL.com:
The Crimson Tide coach will be in Indianapolis on Saturday appearing on multiple segments of ESPN’s College GameDay broadcast, show producer Lee Fitting said on the Paul Finebaum radio show.
Fitting called Saban “a great communicator” and said the segments will be “simply scintillating television.” Back in 2011, Saban was a guest commentator for ESPN’s coverage of Auburn’s BCS win over Oregon.
Saban also did a nice job on a segment of GameDay when the gang set up in Tuscaloosa for the LSU game.
I guess when he finishes at Texas he’ll have something to do during football season.
Sure, the national championships are nice.
But the real benefit of Nick Saban coaching Alabama? Right here: