Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Off The Reservation

Over the last 11 months, the in-state media in Alabama has acted as an extension on Alabama coach Nick "I'm not going to be the Alabama coach" Saban's press office. While the national media has given Saban a richly-deserved pummeling for his apparently endless reservoir of obnoxious attitude, empty aphorisms and utter lack of character, the in-state press and delusional Alabama fan base (please forgive the redundancy) motored along spouting happy talk about the "Great Saban," and seldom was heard a discouraging word.

Until today. Here's Kevin Scarbinsky, the feature sports columnist of the Birmingham News:
I've never heard, and I hope I've never made, a statement about college football as outrageous, over-the-top and offensive as the one Nick Saban made at his weekly press conference/psychology lecture Monday.

Listen. These were his words. His exact words.

"Changes in history usually occur after some kind of catastrophic event," Saban said. "It may be 9/11, which sort of changed the spirit of America relative to a catastrophic event. Pearl Harbor got us ready for World War II or whatever, and that was a catastrophic event.

"And I don't think anyone in this room would've bet that we would lose back-to-back games to Mississippi State or ULM, no disrespect to either one of those teams."

That's right. The head football coach at Alabama included the lost lives in New York, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania and Hawaii with the lost games against Mississippi State and Louisiana-Monroe in his very serious discussion of "catastrophic events."

What historical tragedy will he reference Saturday when Alabama loses a sixth straight game to Auburn? The Holocaust?
Here's radio host and Mobile Press-Register columnist Paul Finebaum, who led the charge to hire Saban, and who's been a relentless advocate for "Flipper" since January, going so far as to call Alabama's loss to LSU "inspiring" in a remarkably silly (and well-parodied) column a few weeks ago:
That sound you heard late Saturday afternoon was Bear Bryant rolling over in his grave. Nearly a quarter century after his death, his beloved football program has seemingly fallen and it can't get up.

On Saturday, against a directional school from northeast Louisiana, one who plays in a league whose champion earns an automatic berth into something called the New Orleans Bowl, the Tide(tanic) hit another iceberg, shredding this season into four million pieces and raising questions for the first time whether Nick Saban has a solid handle on his job as head football coach at Alabama.
Saban warned the Alabama faithful in the offseason that booing is bad for business. He repeated that admonition at every stop on the rubber-chicken circuit. However, based on Saturday's embarrassing scene, it appears the fans now pay about as much attention to him as his Alabama players.

Do you think Saban will be able to go into the home of top recruits and make a case that Alabama is a program built on class, integrity and discipline?

Saban also appeared to be throwing his senior class under the bus in his post-game comments by saying part of the problem could be a "pattern of personality." He said the problems now seem to be the same ones that cropped up in the past.

Translation: This is Mike Shula's fault.

Well, no it isn't, Nick. This has happened on your $32 million watch.
So what's the problem here?

Saban said he stressed all week that you can't take a team like this lightly. Well, apparently, they didn't listen. Why not?

Could it be the team has tuned out the master of the process? Could it be they don't care what he has to say any more? Or perhaps, they simply can't relate to a coach who makes so much money and who has crisscrossed the nation the last few years like an Amway salesman.

One could assume that's the case with DJ Hall, the team's most talented offensive weapon. Hall didn't play in the first half (Saban said he violated team rules), but with Alabama struggling at halftime, Saban suddenly decided that Hall's suspension was over.

Asked for an explanation afterward, Saban said: "It was what it was?"


When a reporter challenged him, Saban silenced him like a stern father talking to a teenager asking for his car keys a second time.

At least Saban could been honest and said, "Hey man, I'm trying to win the stupid football game. Aight! That's what you people are paying me $4 mil to do."
Here's Huntsville Times columnist Mark McCarter:
[N]ot long ago I interviewed a former NFL player who was casually talking football with a friend on the 94th floor of a World Trade Center tower when the phone line suddenly went dead. "If there's a blessing, he never knew what hit him," the ex-player said of his friend, whose office was struck by the nose of a hijacked plane.

The ex-player lost his New York apartment near the World Trade Center and 150 people that he personally knew. I don't think he'd ever equate that with any games he lost.

Nick Saban did so on Monday.
Saban arrived with a rich reputation for his insensitivity. Usually it's directed toward media or minions.

On Monday, that insensitivity stretched well beyond the protected confines of his kingdom when he concocted such an insulting, ill-advised analogy. An experienced, expensive coach has to do better.

Maybe Saban was just too wrapped up in emotion and hyperbole. Maybe, like some fourth-and-two play, he didn't give it enough thought. Maybe it was dramatic effect. Maybe it was self-preservation, a bold statement to a fan base where some are already second-guessing the investment.

Whatever the reason, to borrow from his war-time comparisons, Nick Saban bombed.
Sounds like somebody has worn out his welcome. I'm guessing the off-season of 2008 just might be a bit different from the extended Nick Sucking honeymoon of 2007.


Unknown said...

When I see Saban after each of these games, I cannot help but recall the scene from "The Natural" when the 'psychologist' is counselling the team during thier losing streak:

"Losing is a disease, as infectious as syphillis"

and later,...

"Losing is a disease, as infectious as the bubonic plague"

Robert Redford's line about not listening to a 'two-bit carney hypnotist" is also spot on.

War Eagle

Unknown said...

I'm going to laugh so hard if Saban takes the upcoming opening at Meechigan when Carr leaves. He'll get tired of the BS at uAt, and will lose even more credibility, if you ask me, if walks on to the next great opportunity, especially if it's for less $. More than likely, Meechigan will see right through him and not even interview him or make him and offer.

Xavier said...

beautiful stuff my brother, just keep it "rollin" :-)

Jim said...

"Sounds like somebody has worn out his welcome."

Yeah, losing to ULM at home for your 3rd consecutive loss will do that. The salary disparity between the coaches makes the loss rich beyond belief. Hopefully the Tigers put the cherry on the Saban Sundae at Jordan-Hare this weekend to make his boys 0-for-November.