I knew I wouldn’t get far in my quest to post something on this blog every day. I should not put pressure like that on myself.
I went to bed early last night. I did not watch a single down of the College Football Playoff championship game.
Good thing I didn’t.
Georgia destroyed TCU 65-7 to successfully defend its championship. The Bulldogs claimed their fourth title (1942 and 1980 were their others prior to last year) and prompted many of the “experts” on television to proclaim (a) Georgia is the new superpower of college football, supplanting Alabama, and (b) Georgia coach Kirby Smart is the best in the game, surpassing his mentor, Nick Saban, who has won a record seven championships (the first at LSU in 2003, then six at Alabama between 2009 and 2020).
Alabama would have made the playoff had they beaten either Tennessee or LSU. The Crimson Tide would have been in the SEC championship, even if they lost to LSU (the Bayou Bengals’ choke vs. Texas A&M would have sent Alabama to Atlanta had the Tide defeated Tennessee). It would have mattered not had Alabama won or lost vs. Georgia, because there’s no way the committee would have put BOTH TCU and Ohio State ahead of the Tide.
The Tide would have been the No. 3 seed and played Michigan in one semifinal. Georgia would have played either Ohio State or TCU, whichever got in. Then it would have been Alabama-Georgia in the title game for the third time since 2017.
As long as Nicholas Lou Saban is leading his machine in Tuscaloosa, Alabama will win big. When your fans, players and coaches consider 11-2 and a Sugar Bowl rout of Big 12 champion Kansas State to be a down year, you’re doing a hell of a lot right.
I find Saban’s sideline behavior to be unacceptable at times, but the man can recruit, and the man has the right ideas, such as getting rid of cupcakes on the schedule. Unfortunately for Saban, he is not in complete control at Tuscaloosa the way Bear Bryant was. The Tide will not have a non-conference schedule of Nebraska, Missouri, USC and Washington the way Alabama did in 1978. Not anytime soon at least.
Greg Byrne will continue to demand at least one of those patsies come to Tuscaloosa every year. However, I don’t understand why Alabama won’t invite Jacksonville State, Troy, UAB and South Alabama to Bryant-Denny. It’s not worth it to play New Mexico State, Kent State (that being Saban’s alma mater notwithstanding) and UMass when there are four FBS schools within 200 miles of Tuscaloosa.
Georgia’s non-conference schedule for 2023 is an absolute joke. Yes, I am aware the SEC cancelled the Bulldogs’ scheduled game vs. Oklahoma because of the Sooners’ impending move to the SEC, but Greg McGarrity could have found someone tougher than Ball State to fill that spot. UAB and Tennessee-Martin, an FCS program, also go between the hedges next year. Georgia’s season ender at Georgia Tech should also be a walk, especially since the Bulldogs haven’t lost at Grant Field since 1999, when Smart was one year removed from his final season as a Georgia defensive back.
The Bulldogs have cemented their status as one of the three or four programs which should be expected to make the playoff every year, along with Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson.
Those writing off Dabo Swinney are way, way, WAY too early to be doing that. The Tigers will rule the ACC for as long as Swinney is on the sideline in northwest South Carolina. Florida State is the only major threat I can see to the Tigers’ dominance. North Carolina is too inconsistent, and will be looking for a new coach soon, as Mack Brown is 72. Miami can’t get it together. Virginia Tech has bottomed out. Pitt and North Carolina State will have good years from time to time, but never string them together. Duke and Wake Forest have done well considering their rigorous academics and limited enrollment, but I don’t see it as sustainable.
There is no reason Clemson should not be 12-0 or 11-1 every year heading into the ACC championship. If that’s the case, the Tigers only have to win the championship game to go to the playoff when it expands in two years.
Oklahoma was once a playoff regular, but the Sooners took a major step back after Lincoln Riley left for USC and took Caleb Williams, among others, with him to Los Angeles. The Sooners will find the sledding much tougher when they join the SEC in either 2024 or ’25.
The Big 12 will be wide open once Oklahoma and Texas leave. Baylor, Houston, TCU and Texas Tech should always be in the running, considering just how talent-rich Texas is. Oklahoma State should get it back on track under Mike Gundy. As much as it pains me to say it, Kansas State found the right coach in Chris Klieman.
How will BYU adjust to the rigors of nine games vs. Power Five opponents in conference, and an occasional one vs. Utah? The Cougars have as rich a tradition as anyone left in the Big 12, but let’s see how it plays out.
Michigan has made it in back-to-back seasons, but if Jim Harbaugh leaves for the NFL, does that last? Also, the Wolverines and Buckeyes still have to deal with Penn State in the Big Ten right now, and with USC and UCLA on the horizon, it should only get tougher. The Big Ten is getting rid of divisions when the California teams join, which will be a big relief for Indiana, Rutgers and Maryland, but could be a nightmare for Nebraska and Northwestern.
I did not mention the Pac-12 in the last section.
I don’t know how much longer the Pac-12 (which will revert to Pac-10 once the LA schools depart) can hold up. Adding UNLV, Fresno St. and San Diego St. isn’t going to bring much to the table. Adding Gonzaga as a basketball-only member won’t cut it, either.
The rumors are everyone except Oregon State and Washington State should have a place to land if the conference dissolves. The Big 12 is looking at going to 16 by adding Arizona, Arizona State and Utah, and of course bringing back Colorado. California, Stanford, Oregon and Washington will get into a power conference some way, some how. All four could join the Big Ten and make it 20, which could lead to a split for sports outside of football and basketball. It is not fair to ask students at Maryland and Rutgers to spend a week on the west coast, or vice versa.
It would be a crying shame if Oregon State and Washington State get dumped into the Mountain West. Nothing against the Mountain West, but the administrations in Corvallis and Pullman have invested way too much time and money into keeping up with the powers in Eugene and Seattle, not to mention LA and the Bay Area.
Somewhere, Mike Leach is pleading with the Good Lord to save the Coogs from purgatory. Dee Andros and Ralph Miller are probably doing the same for the Beavers.
As it stands now, at least one conference champion from outside the Power 5 will earn automatic entry to the CFP once it expands.
Tulane has the opportunity to be that team on a consistent basis.
The Green Wave should be picked no lower than third next year in the American Athletic Conference. Willie Fritz has committed to Tulane, something Larry Smith, Mack Brown and Tommy Bowden did not. I’m surprised Georgia Tech did not pursue Fritz harder, given his success in New Orleans and his ties to the Peach State at Georgia Southern.
Problem is, if Tulane keeps winning, it’s going to be that much harder to keep Fritz.
Before going to Statesboro, he coached at Sam Houston State, which lies in the shadow of Texas’ death row in Huntsville.
If Texas A&M becomes tired of Jimbo Fisher’s mediocrity and is willing to pay his asinine buyout, Aggie boosters will almost certainly be crossing the Sabine River and headed straight for the Big Easy. Texas is always a volatile situation until the Longhorns prove they can win at Darrell Royal/Mack Brown levels on a consistent basis. Will the SEC lure Dave Aranda away from Baylor?
Tulane football is at its highest point since the spring of 1949, when it was coming off a 46-0 rout of LSU in Death Valley to close the 1948 season 9-1. If you read my post from Jan. 2, you’ll know the Wave was ranked as high as No. 4 in 1949 before losing badly in South Bend, coming back to win the SEC championship, only to lose the Sugar Bowl bid when they were flattened 21-0 by LSU in New Orleans. Tulane didn’t sniff another bowl until 1970.
In the Mountain West, Boise State should be a yearly contender, as should Fresno State. San Diego State could be if it doesn’t bolt for the Pac-12. Air Force has done quite well for decades under Troy Calhoun and his predecessor, Fisher DeBerry, but the Falcons don’t have the “big uglies”, as Keith Jackson used to say, along the lines. That, plus the rigors of military training and the commitment following graduation drive many young men away from Colorado Springs, West Point and Annapolis.
Speaking of the academies, without a conference, Army’s chances are next to zero. The Black Knights would have to catch lightning in a bottle, or reincarnate Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard in 1945-46 form.
Navy is in a conference, but is far behind Tulane, SMU and Memphis in the American. Firing Ken Niumatalolo and replacing him from within was a very dumb move by athletic director Chet Gladchuk, who made a similar faux pas at Tulane in the early 1990s by bringing in Buddy Teevens from Dartmouth. Teevens is a hell of a nice guy, but he was overmatched at the top level. After a brief failed stint at Stanford, Teevens returned to New Hampshire and has the Big Green back to its familiar perch at or near the top of the Ivy League.
I saw Smart play for the Bulldogs on the evening of 3 October 1998, when Georgia came to Death Valley for a highly-anticipated matchup with LSU, which was ranked sixth in the AP poll following wins over Arkansas State, Auburn and Idaho.
The talk around Baton Rouge was if the Bayou Bengals prevailed, they were automatically contenders for the first BCS championship, and Gerry DiNardo would take his place alongside Paul Dietzel and Charlie McClendon as the greatest LSU coach ever.
Smart, wearing No. 16, was overshadowed that evening by future Pro Football Hall of Famer, who played nearly the entire game on defense AND offense, and quarterback Quincy Carter, who made play after play to keep Georgia afloat.
With the game hanging in the balance and the Bulldogs ahead 28-27, Bailey made an acrobatic catch on a deep ball down the left sideline to clinch victory.
LSU went into total freefall after Georgia returned to Athens.
The Bayou Bengals won only one of their next seven games to finish 4-7. They got worse in 1999, starting 2-0 before losing eight straight.
On 15 November 1999, Gerry DiNardo was fired by LSU chancellor Mark Emmert, who heroically took the coaching search reins from cheapskate athletic director Joe Dean, who did all he could to keep DiNardo around for 2000.
Fifteen days after DiNardo was booted, Emmert introduced LSU’s new coach, Nick Saban. The rest is history. Mostly good.
Once again, I’ve rambled on. I’ll stop. Thanks again for reading.
LSU and Missouri have been together in the Southeastern Conference since 2012.
Yesterday was the first time the Bayou Bengals visited Columbia, and only the second time the purple Tigers and black Tigers faced off as conference opponents.
Blame one man. He resides in Tuscaloosa.
Nicholas Lou Saban, the head football coach at the University of Alabama, believes the world would stop spinning on its axis if the Crimson Tide did not play Tennessee every year.
Alabama and Tennessee have a rivalry which dates to 1901, less than two months after President William McKinley was assassinated in Buffalo. The Tide and Volunteers have played every year since 1930 except 1943, when neither school fielded a team during the height of World War II.
General Robert Neyland wanted Tennessee to play Alabama every year, knowing if the Volunteers defeated the Tide, Tennessee would be the undisputed king of southern football.
Bear Bryant, who played on a broken leg when Alabama won 25-0 in 1935 at Birmingham, considered Tennessee a bigger rival than Auburn. It was his trainer, Jim Goostree, who began the tradition of handing out victory cigars to players and coaches following victory in the series. Tennessee soon copied the tradition.
It is a vile and disgusting tradition. The Birmingham News’ website, AL.com, posts hundreds of photos of players and fans smoking cigars after a Crimson Tide victory over the Volunteers. They are glorifying a product which has killed tens of millions of Americans (although cigars have killed fewer than cigarettes). Memo to the women who smoke cigars: it doesn’t make you prettier. It makes you repulsive.
Nick Saban loves the cigars, given he once chain-smoked cigarettes. Unlike Bryant, he had the guts to give them up, but he still chews Red Man.
Alabama fans shouldn’t be lighting up cigars anyway. Tennessee is as impotent against Alabama these days as I am with the disgusting little thing between my legs. No reason to bother.
No wonder Saban wants to keep Tennessee on Alabama’s schedule permanently. He beats them all the time.
On the other hand, the world will not end if the Crimson Tide and Volunteers don’t play every year.
Conference realignment has cost us Maryland-Virginia, Maryland-North Carolina, Penn State-Pittsburgh, Nebraska-Oklahoma, Nebraska-Colorado, Nebraska-Missouri, Missouri-Kansas, Missouri-Oklahoma, Colorado-Oklahoma, Texas A&M-Baylor, Texas A&M-TCU, Texas A&M-Texas Tech, Arkansas-Texas, and the biggest of all, Texas-Texas A&M.
LSU and Tulane haven’t played since 2009. That sucks. Tulane bears some of the blame for demanding every other game be played in New Orleans, but LSU has a point by not wanting to give up a home game and play in a stadium which seats 30,000. Tulane blundered massively by leaving the SEC in 1966, but it could make up somewhat for it by playing every year in Baton Rouge and accepting a generous check from LSU. It really angers me LSU will play McNeese, Northwestern State, Southeastern Louisiana, Nicholls State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, and now Southern and Grambling, but not Tulane.
Even within conferences, some rivalries aren’t played every year.
When the SEC split into divisions in 1992, it ended the yearly battle between Auburn and Tennessee. In 2002, Auburn’s yearly rivalry with Florida ended. LSU and Kentucky played every year from 1949 through 2001, but now don’t see each other but once every five or six years. Alabama and Georgia once played every year, but haven’t since Vince Dooley’s early days in Athens. LSU and Alabama was NOT a yearly rivalry until 1964. LSU and Auburn rarely played until they were thrown into the SEC West together. Same with Tennessee vs. Florida and Georgia in the East; Tennessee played Ole Miss every year before divisions.
The ACC stupidly divided the four North Carolina schools. This means North Carolina and Wake Forest don’t play every year, nor do Duke and North Carolina State. Last year, the Tar Heels and Demon Deacons played a game which didn’t count in the ACC standings just to play. Clemson also doesn’t play Duke, North Carolina and Virginia every year, while NC State and Wake Forest don’t see Virginia every year.
Before Nebraska and Colorado left the Big 12, it stranded Oklahoma and Oklahoma State with the Texas schools, and refused to have even one cross-division rivalry which was played every year.
In the Big Ten, the Little Brown Jug isn’t contested between Minnesota and Michigan every year. Same with Illibuck, the turtle contested by Ohio State and Illinois. Fortunately, Iowa and Minnesota still battle every year for Floyd of Rosedale, the bronze pig which is bar none the best trophy in college sports.
Anyone who can read a map knows Missouri is farther west than 11 of the other 13 SEC schools. Only Arkansas and Texas A&M are west of Columbia.
Yet the SEC refused to consider moving one team out of the West to let the Big 12 expatriates join the same division.
Then-Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs repeatedly said he would gladly move to the East to allow Mizzou into the West, yet then-SEC Commissioner Mike Slive and league presidents refused.
The biggest reason was Saban’s bellyaching about the cherished Alabama-Tennessee rivalry. Such bellyaching was not as loud from Knoxville, although I’m certain some Volunteer fans want their team to play the Crimson Tide, even with the yearly slaughter.
If Auburn was moved to the East, the Tigers of the Plains would become the Crimson Tide’s permanent cross-division football opponent, meaning they couldn’t play the Volunteers every year. Tennessee probably would have picked up Mizzou or A&M as its permanent West rival.
There is no rule stating Alabama and Tennessee cannot play a game which wouldn’t count in the SEC standings. Bear Bryant did this vs. Ole Miss near the end of his tenure. Has nobody thought of this? I’m not just talking about the Crimson Tide and Volunteers. Everyone in the SEC could do this. It would be an easy way to schedule the required non-conference game vs. a Power Five team.
The above ideas are good, but definitely not the best.
I realize Tuscaloosa is farther west than Nashville, home to Vanderbilt. However, the SEC could fudge its geography just a little bit and make it all right.
Swap Mizzou and Vandy for Alabama and Auburn. There, problem solved. Alabama would have Auburn and Tennessee as division opponents, and playing Georgia and Florida would more than make up for not playing LSU every year.
Tennessee-Vanderbilt would become the lone cross-division game to be played every year, the same way Indiana-Purdue is the only one in the Big Ten. This would get teams into each stadium more frequently.
Your blogger would be pumped to see LSU and Mizzou play every year in football, baseball and softball, meaning the Bayou Bengals would be in Columbia every other year for those sports instead of once in a blue moon.
It just makes too much damned sense, so it will never happen.
Then again, Missouri sports teams have a history of being geographically misaligned.
The Cardinals played in the National League EAST from 1969-93, even though it was farther west than Atlanta and Cincinnati, which were in the West.
The Cardinals and Cubs raised holy hell when the National League wanted to align geographically when the two-divisiion format was approved for 1969. Both were afraid of (a) 27 games per year in California, which meant late start times for television, and (b) not playing in New York. NL president Bill Giles gave the Cardinals and Cubs what they wanted, giving the big “F YOU” to the Braves and Reds, which faced longer trips to California and later start times for their fans, since Atlanta and Cincinnati are on Eastern time.
Giles didn’t have the balls AL president Joe Cronin did. He told the White Sox flat out they were going into the West, and if they didn’t like it, tough shit. The Sox’ owners at the time wanted to be in the East, citing tradition, as five of the other six old-line AL teams were in that division (the exception was the second Senators franchise, the one which became the Rangers in 1972). The White Sox tried again to move to the East when the Senators’ relocation was approved, but the Brewers, who were originally the Seattle Pilots, were moved from West to East, trading places with the Senators/Rangers.
The AL should not have moved the Brewers. It short-circuited rivalries with the White Sox and Twins, and since the Cowboys were in the NFC East, and the Cardinals and Cubs were in the NL East, it wouldn’t have been too bad to keep the Rangers in the AL East.
Speaking of teams from Dallas and St. Louis, it was totally asinine the Cowboys and football Cardinals were in the NFC East. Those cities aren’t east of anything, except San Francisco and Los Angeles in the NFC.
Pete Rozelle wimped out when the AFL and NFL merged. Rather than unilaterally imposing an alignment on NFC owners, he allowed secretary Thelma Ekjer to blindly pick an alignment out of a vase. And wouldn’t you know, the only one with the Cowboys and Cardinals in the NFC East was picked.
Let’s see..the Cowboys in the East and the Falcons in the West. Brilliant.
Rozelle should have put the Cowboys in the West, then added either the Cardinals or Saints (probably the latter, since it would have preserved a Dallas-New Orleans rivalry, one Cowboys’ president Tex Schramm loved). The other should have gone into the Central with the Vikings, Bears and Packers, and the Lions would go into the East with the Falcons, Redskins, Eagles and Giants.
When the Rams moved to St. Louis, there was no problem for me with them staying in the West, although it would have been an ideal time to realign the NFC, with the 49ers, Rams, Cardinals, Cowboys and Saints in the West; the Falcons, Panthers, Redskins, Giants and Eagles in the East; and the Central staying the way it was. At the time, the AFC was too convoluted to try to redo the East and Central (the West was great the way it was).
I’m not giving up my hope LSU and Mizzou are more than occasional rivals. Sometimes the world actually works the way it should.
Until then, I’ll start saving up for tickets when the Bayou Bengals return to Columbia in 2023. And for LSU’s trip to Lexington next year.
So much for posting every day in 2019. I was extremely lazy the past two days. Actually, the past three. Too little sleep. Too much junk food. I’m still not feeling up to speed.
The last two weeks of 2018 had enough trouble for two months. Let’s hope that doesn’t repeat in 2019.
Of course, there was the fiasco with the person who didn’t appreciate my wishes for a Merry Christmas. I’ve tried to forget about it, or at least not bring it up until I see Crista again, which happens to be at 0900 tomorrow.
After 7 1/2 years and 236,000 miles, my Chevrolet gave out. It didn’t leave me stranded, but it gave me enough difficult to convince my father to transfer the title on my grandfather’s Buick LeSabre to me.
It had been planned for years. My grandfather’s vision has continuously deteriorated over the past 25 years, and now it is to the point where he cannot see well enough to drive. The Kansas Department of Revenue, which is in charge of processing driver’s licenses, told him his vision was not good enough to keep him on the road. He had been banned from night driving since 2010 and restricted to the city limits of Russell since 2012, but now, he can’t drive, period.
My grandfather’s female companion, Betty, had been driving the Buick, but sadly, she passed away from cancer in October. As soon as that occurred, my father began keeping the Buick at my grandfather’s old shop on East 12th Street.
I was driving to Salina last Friday in the Chevrolet, but when I got to the Wilson exit on Interstate 70, the engine all of a sudden began to power down. There was a message that my traction control system had failed, and that the car needed to reduce power to the engine.
I turned the car off and back on at the Sylvan Grove exit, but still the engine power was down. I drove for 10 miles westbound at 45 to 50 miles per hour (70-80 km/h) and it was scary. I was unhappy I was slowing the flow of traffic, but what else could I do? Finally, I pulled off again at Dorrance, let the car sit for a couple of minutes, and while the service engine light was still on, the engine was back to full power and I drove back to Russell.
That afternoon, my father and I got the paperwork done to transfer the Buick to me. It’s a 2004 LeSabre Limited, with leather interior, heated seats, satellite radio and most of the same accoutrements the Chevrolet has. This is the first car I’ve had since the Oldsmobile without a spoiler on the trunk, and the first since the Oldsmobile where the shifter is on the column and not the floor. Oh well.
As it turned out, I accidentally threw my iPod in the trash when I cleaned out the Chevrolet. I frantically looked for it through all the stuff I took out, but no luck. I have a new one on reserve at the Apple store in Leawood I’ll pick up tomorrow. At least all of my music is secure on my iCloud and computer.
The Buick is so ancient it has a cassette deck. However, it has no plug-in for the cable to go from the iPod to the radio like the Chevrolet did. Fortunately, there is a cassette adapter which will allow sound to come through the iPod to the car speakers. If that weren’t available, I would have had to get a new radio.
My new iPad arrived 24 hours ago. It’s fancy. Huge screen, great video and sound. I was able to give my old one to my parents so they can stream Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.
I left the house at 0830 because there was a plumber working on the sink in our kitchen. Stopped at SportClips to see Amber, drove to Wichita to go to the bank, then rocketed back up I-135 to stop at Buffalo Wild Wings for trivia, which I haven’t done since August. Leaving at 2030 because I have the appointment with Crista.
Alabama and Clemson are playing for college football’s national championship Monday. Again. Third time in the last four seasons. It will be that way until either Nick Saban retires, which will leave another school to fill the vacuum. Clemson, meanwhile, should be there for at least another 20 years, because Dabo Swinney is much younger and is having too much fun.
I’m happy LSU beat Central Florida. I am beyond fed up about UCF bragging about its long winning streak, the American Athletic Conference whining about how it should be treated as a power conference when it clearly is not, Danny White (UCF’s athletic director, not the former Cowboys quarterback) bitching about how power schools won’t play him in Orlando….blah blah blah. ENOUGH.
Why should Florida give up a home game in its 92,000-seat stadium to play UCF in its 44,000-seat facility in Orlando? The Gators were offering a 2-for-1 with the Knights, which I think is quite generous. South Florida accepted the offer. Yet UCF thinks one undefeated season gives it the right to make demands when writing contracts. Okay then.
In his early years at Florida State, Bobby Bowden played six or seven road games consistently until the mid-1980s, exposing the Seminoles to numerous hostile environments, using the large paychecks FSU received for playing at LSU, Nebraska, Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Michigan. The only schools the Seminoles played home and home in those days were Florida and Miami.
UCF, meanwhile, has its feelings hurt because Florida doesn’t feel like giving up millions in revenue in the name of fairness. Schools are not in the business of losing money. Florida has every right to tell UCF to take its offer or leave it.
I did not follow through on my vow to not watch college football. However, I’m not sad the season ends Monday. I can do without hearing about Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide for a few months.
Nobody in Kansas has been paying attention to college football anyway. It’s all about basketball. Yippee.
I scored a perfect 15,000 in my first trivia game of 2019. It’s not an omen. But imagine if it were.
Boston won again last night. The Red Sox are now halfway home to their fourth World Series title this millennium following a 4-2 victory.
The Red Sox are, as Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic said often during the NFL season, a Stone Cold Lead Pipe Lock.
The last five teams to take a 2-0 lead in the World Series have won in either four or five games. The roll call: 2004 and ’07 Red Sox, 2010 and ’12 Giants, 2015 Royals. Only the 2010 Rangers and 2015 Mets managed to win a game in their home park.
The 2001 Yankees are the most recent team to fall behind 2-0 (to the Diamondbacks in Phoenix) and at least get the series back to where it started. That year, the home team won EVERY game, the same way it occurred in ’87 (Twins over Cardinals) and ’91 (Twins over Braves).
In 1998, ’99 and 2000, the Yankees won the first two games of the series and it never returned to where it started. In ’98 and 2000, the series began in the Bronx; in ’99, the Yankees won the first two in Atlanta, then the next two at Yankee Stadium II.
Only three times has a team lost the first two games at home and come back to win: 1985 Royals, ’86 Mets, ’96 Yankees.
The Dodgers are down 2-0 for the fourth time since making their first World Series appearance representing Los Angeles. In 1965 (vs. Minnesota) and ’81 (vs. Yankees), the Dodgers won all three games at Chavez Ravine, then won the series on the road (Game 7 in ’65, Game 6 in ’81). In 1966, the Dodgers lost twice at home to Baltimore and were cooked; the Orioles won a pair of 1-0 games in Maryland. Shortly thereafter, Sandy Koufax, who beat the Twins in Game 7 of ’65 on two days rest, retired.
In 1955, the Brooklyn Dodgers were behind 2-0 after losing twice in the Bronx. The Bums won all three at Ebbets Field, only to lose Game 6 back in the Bronx. Fortunately for the Brooklynites, Johnny Podres pitched the game of his life to give the Dodgers their first world title.
The next year, the Dodgers took a 2-0 lead at Ebbets Field. To nobody’s surprise, the Yankees won all three in the Bronx, with the last of those three being Don Larsen’s perfect game. Brooklyn won Game 6 back at home, but the Yankees pummeled the Dodgers 9-0 in Game 7 in the last World Series game in Flatbush.
The Red Sox swept the Cardinals in 2004 and the Rockies in ’07, but they were up 2-0 on the Mets in ’86 going back to Fenway. The denizens of Queens won Games 3 and 4 before Boston won Game 5. Then you know what happened next…Bill Buckner.
The Dodgers won’t be going back to Fenway. Not this season at least. It’s over. Boston will have a long flight to celebrate its latest World Series championship, much the same way the Bruins had a transcontinental journey from Vancouver when they won the Stanley Cup in 2011, or the Celtics after vanquishing the Lakers in 1962, ’68 and ’69.
The Patriots have never played in a Super Bowl in California. Three in New Orleans, two each in Houston and Phoenix (technically Glendale), one each in Minneapolis, Jacksonville and Indianapolis. I would have loved to be on the flight back from Tempe after the Patriots lost to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII. I’m sure it was tons of fun. If that were the case, I’ve got a beachfront house under construction in Russell.
Speaking of Bill Belichick, I’m sure I would pee in my pants if I were anywhere near him or Nick Saban. Actually, I got pretty close physically to Saban during media day at the Sugar Bowl 15 years ago when LSU played Oklahoma for the national championship. People say Belichick and Saban are different people away from football. I don’t know either man personally, so I can’t tell.
If I did meet Saban, I would love to ask him about how he game planned at Michigan State for facing Iowa. When Saban was the defensive coordinator in East Lansing (1983-87), the Hawkeyes’ offensive coordinator was none other than Bill Snyder. Saban went to the NFL in 1988, Snyder’s last year in Iowa City, and ’89, when Snyder took over at K-State. Their paths last crossed in 1987, when Michigan State went to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1965. Iowa went to Pasadena in 1985.
Of course, you cannot convince anyone in Kansas (minus Jayhawk fanatics) that there is a college football coach greater than Bill Snyder. I’m not denying Snyder has done great things at Kansas State. However, I am not buying into the narrative of him being the best coach ever.
I will say one thing: Saban and Snyder are 180 degrees apart when it comes to scheduling.
Saban wants to play all Power Five teams and nine conference games instead of eight. He would rather not play the ‘buy games’ to give the fans much more bang for their buck, but it isn’t feasible if nobody else wants to do it. Until every other SEC school agrees to play only Power Five teams, Saban simply is stuck.
The SEC and ACC should have to play nine conference games. If the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 are doing it, the other two should have to as well. I honestly think the College Football Playoff committee should seriously penalize SEC and ACC schools until (a) they play nine conference games or (b) cut the crappy teams and play at least two Power Fives in non-conference.
I’m not the biggest Saban fan, but I applaud the man for willing to put his considerable money where his mouth is, not backing down from the best.
Snyder would rather load up his schedule with cupcakes and lesser lights, the fans be damned. He doesn’t mind feeding Wildcat faithful filler until Big 12 season goes along. I’m sure he was royally pissed when the Big 12 required a full round-robin schedule following the loss of Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas A&M, and the addition of TCU and West Virginia. Snyder wanted two five-team divisions so he could schedule at least one, maybe two, more softies. At least the Big 12 had the foresight to ignore him.
Because of that, Saban and Snyder will never face off unless they are matched in a bowl game. No chance Snyder wants to take the Wildcats to Tuscaloosa. None. And no way K-State gets into Alabama’s ionosphere for a bowl game, so the Saban vs. Snyder dream match will have to remain a relic of the old Big Ten, when the conference actually had 10 teams.
As for Saban’s current team, Alabama visits Baton Rouge a week from Saturday for another apocalyptic game, at least for LSU fans. Crimson Tide rooters really could care less, because as Bear Bryant famously said, he would rather beat the Cow College (Auburn) once than Notre Dame (or LSU or just about anyone else) ten times.
LSU fans have been in a tizzy since about 2100 Saturday, when All-SEC linebacker Devin White was ejected for targeting on a hit against Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. With just under five minutes remaining and LSU leading 19-3, White was called by referee John McDaid for leading with his helmet and hitting Fitzgerald below the face mask, which is the definition of targeting.
It appeared White attempted to hold up, and he led with a two-hand shove, not a launch with the helmet. It was a very, very questionable targeting. Yes, White should have been penalized, but ejecting him was probably over the top.
The worst thing about a targeting call in the second half is that player is suspended for the first half of the next game. This means White will be a spectator or held in the locker room during the first minutes of the tussle between the Bayou Bengals and Crimson Tide.
Had this been against the Alabama offense of two years ago, it might not have been so bad. LSU and Alabama were scoreless through three quarters before the Tide offense got going and won 10-0.
Now, it is a major loss.
Alabama has a more explosive offense than Joe Namath, Bart Starr or Kenny Stabler ever could have dreamed of. Tua Tagiviola, who came off the bench in the second half of last year’s national championship game vs. Georgia and rallied the Tide from a 13-0 deficit to win in overtime, is favored to win the Heisman. In fact, you cannot get even money odds on Tua at any Las Vegas sports book. Alabama has routed every opponent so far, and Tua has yet to see the fourth quarter of any game.
The Twitter hashtag #freedevinwhite trended immediately after the game and most of Sunday. LSU athletic director Joe Alleva was incensed and begged SEC commissioner Greg Sankey to overturn the suspension.
It got so heated political guru James Carville, a Louisiana native and LSU graduate, wrote a letter to The Advocate in Baton Rouge claiming the officials of the SEC were in cahoots with Alabama. Carville claimed the directive to uphold the targeting call against White came from SEC Director of Officials Steve Shaw, an Alabama graduate and native of Birmingham.
Carville wasn’t the only politically connected Bayou State resident who chimed in.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, who also graduated from LSU, demanded to know from Shaw and Sankey why White was ejected and just how it was targeting.
Edwards is the first governor to be this invested in LSU football since John McKeithen helped Charles McClendon recruit during his two terms (1964-72). John Bel, no relation to Edwin Edwards, has traveled with the Tigers and is very close to Ed Orgeron and his wife Kelly.
It’s nice to see JBE loving LSU football. Edwin Edwards graduated from LSU, but really didn’t care about sports, although he was on the LSU plane to Philadelphia for the 1981 Final Four. Dave Treen graduated from Tulane, so he saw LSU as the enemy, at least in athletics. Mike Foster graduated from LSU, but only cared about hunting and fishing. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco hated LSU, having graduated from UL Lafayette. As for Buddy Roemer and Bobby Jindal, they didn’t give a you know what–both graduated from Harvard.
As it turns out, neither Shaw nor Sankey has the power to vacate the suspension. That belongs to the NCAA and Director of Football Officiating Rogers Redding, who, like Shaw, was a longtime referee in the SEC. Redding said it’s not happening.
Orgeron, to his credit, has moved on and is focusing on getting the Bayou Bengals ready for the Tide. Alleva is taking up the fight, which is what a good athletic director should do. Governor Edwards has bigger fish to fry, though. It’s nice to see him care about the state’s flagship school, but funding the academic side should be priority one, not the football team.
I’m of the mind that if the officials–McDaid, Shaw, the replay official in the booth at Tiger Stadium and any other officials in Birmingham with Shaw at command central–did not see enough clear and convincing evidence to overturn the targeting call, it should stand. McDaid said the call was “confirmed” after replay, which meant there was clear and convincing evidence in their minds.
Steve Shaw was the sine qua non of college football officials when he wore the white hat. Every time there was a huge game involving an SEC school during the regular season, Steve Shaw was the man announcing the penalties. If there was a major bowl game, there was a good chance Shaw was the man in charge. He only got to work two national championship games (Florida State vs. Virginia Tech in ’99, USC vs. Oklahoma in 2004) because the SEC almost always had a team in the title game, so by rule, Shaw and all SEC officials were barred from working. But three Rose Bowls isn’t a bad consolation, especially considering SEC officials never worked the Rose Bowl until the 1991 season.
Shaw is one of the two greatest college football officials who ever lived. The other is Jimmy Harper, who was a referee in the SEC from the early 1970s through 1995. Harper had a Georgia drawl which made me laugh nearly every time. And Harper explained penalties so well you could understand even if you had never watched a football game before.
My father loved Harper. My dad called Harper the ‘white-haired gentleman’. The good news is Harper was probably watching the LSU-Mississippi State game from his home in Atlanta. He’s still alive and kicking at 84.
Shaw and Harper both could have been NFL referees. I’m sure they would have been as legendary as Jerry Markbreit, Ed Hochuli, Jim Tunney and Ben Dreith. But they chose to stay in college, which obviously was a great decision.
I don’t believe for one nanosecond Steve Shaw has a biased cell in his body. He is a man of the utmost integrity. He doesn’t care the teams playing. He only cares that the game is played fairly, and that when someone violates the rules of the game, he is penalized accordingly. I will never buy LSU fans claiming Shaw is biased. No way.
It’s a tough break for LSU, but it’s football. White will learn and be better for it.
I’m rambling yet again. Sorry. That’s all for now.
I almost had the score right on the Georgia-LSU football game last Saturday.
I said 37-17 Georgia. The final? 36-16.
However, I had the wrong team winning.
LSU played its best game in a long, long time, and certainly its best since Ed Orgeron took over from Les Miles two years ago. I didn’t think LSU had it in the bag until it was 29-9 in the fourth quarter. I was just waiting for the Bulldogs to make a big comeback. I thought it would happen in the second half, when they made the adjustments after falling down 16-0 at halftime.
It never came. The Bayou Bengals won, and several thousand idiots stormed the field and cost LSU $100,000 because it violated Southeastern Conference policy, which demands schools keep people who have absolutely no business being on the field (or court) from going onto the playing surface and endangering the safety of the players, coaches, officials, working media and security personnel.
Those idiots who stormed the field should be forced to pay the fine. Every student who was at the game should be forced to contribute part of the fine. LSU scans student identification cards at every game, so there would be a way to find out the students who went to the game and punish them.
Sadly, U.S. Representative Garret Graves, who represents Baton Rouge in the House, started a Go Fund Me page to pay for the fine. IDIOT. Graves is encouraging this lawless behavior by raising money for the fine. Rep. Graves, there’s a lot more pressing issues in Congress than covering the ass of students who don’t know how to behave like civilized humans. You should be ashamed of yourself. You are an embarrassment to your constituents and Congress by doing this.
Alabama comes to Baton Rouge November 3. Oh boy. If the Bayou Bengals pull off the shocker there, fans are certain to storm the field and cost LSU a $250,000 from the SEC. Worse, I fear the safety of Nick Saban would be in peril. LSU fans have shown their ass time and again when Saban’s Crimson Tide have been in Death Valley by shouting “F**K SABAN” so loudly it can be picked up by CBS and beamed from coast to coast.
Bill Self was not hurt when Kansas State students stormed the court in Manhattan the last time the Wildcats beat Kansas, but he had to dodge several angry students who came after him. I would not put it past LSU fans to do the same to Saban, especially since LSU fans feel he betrayed LSU by going to Alabama.
Come on. I don’t like Saban being at Alabama, but LSU fans cannot complain. Saban went to the NFL for two years with the Dolphins before going to Alabama. He did not go straight from Baton Rouge to Tuscaloosa. After all, Saban took LSU into the ionosphere of college football and it stayed there under Miles until the night of January 9, 2012. Even though LSU has yet to make the College Football Playoff, the Bayou Bengals are still winning 8, 9 or 10 games in most seasons and going to a bowl. Do they really want a return to Curley Hallman and Gerry DiNardo (and the last two years of Mike Archer)? I saw bad, bad, BAD LSU football aplenty in the early 1990s, and up close in 1994. This is as far from bad as possible.
If the student shenanigans happen again November 3, LSU students should be banned from the home finale vs. Rice two weeks later. Actually, they not only should be banned from the Rice game, but the first Southeastern Conference game of 2019 vs. Auburn. Maybe that would send a message to the morons to act civilized.
Maybe LSU needs to confine students to the upper decks. Reserve two sections in each upper deck at the far ends for students. Unless someone has a bungee cord, no way they’re getting down there.
I miss the people at LSU and around Baton Rouge, but I am now very glad I wasn’t there. I cannot stand crowds, and it would have driven me absolutely insane to see idiots breaking the law and costing their school $100,000.
I ended up spending part of my birthday in Ottawa with the Cox family watching Caitlyn play volleyball. She’s on the junior varsity right now, but will be on the varsity in 2019. Ottawa has a strong program and she is very fortunate to be playing there, just as older sister Courtney did many years ago. I drove straight home from Ottawa to Russell because of the forecast of snow. Made it home at 2240.
I was dead tired Sunday and Monday. Dead tired. I slept through most of Sunday, staying awake long enough to eat steaks with my parents at lunch, then late to get some work done. Monday was little better; I stayed up through the night Tuesday, with a nap here and there, to make sure I got my work done on time.
No wonder I slept 11 1/2 hours last night and this morning. I woke up 80 minutes later than I had planned. Lucky for me, I could get the work done in plenty of time. So that worked out.
The Brewers are now down 3-2 in the National League Championship Series to the Dodgers. The only good news is (a) the series now goes back to Milwaukee and (b) Clayton Kershaw is done for the series. However, I’ve seen enough Brewer failure through the years that I know the end is near.
Urban Meyer should not coach the Ohio State Buckeyes football team again, if there is any justice and morality in this world. He knew one of his golden boys, Zach Smith, was a woman abuser and covered it up. Meyer must not be allowed to roam the sidelines at Ohio Stadium, or any other college football field, again. He’s certainly not going to go poor in retirement.
Obviously, if the Ohio State job comes open, there will be a free-for-all as to who will be Meyer’s replacement. If I am OSU president Michael Drake, there is one name I put at the top of my list.
His name is Nicholas Lou Saban.
Yes, I did not stutter.
THAT Nick Saban, the one who has built Alabama so grandiose it has eclipsed that of Bear Bryant in the minds of many Crimson Tide fans and college football experts. That’s another debate for another post.
If Saban’s Crimson Tide wins the national championship this season, it will be six in 10 seasons, matching the total Bryant won in 19 seasons (1961-79), although two of Bryant’s (’73 and ’78) were split, and the ’73 title, along with ’64, saw Alabama lose its bowl game after being crowned national champion when a selector (or selectors) did not take another poll following the bowl games. Saban’s five so far are undisputed, including two in the College Football Playoff era.
Saban is the highest paid coach in college football, making at least $11 million per season, but he isn’t lacking for money. His kids are grown, and he and Terry now have grandchildren they can spoil. Saban, who turns 67 this Halloween, has surprised many by staying so long in Tuscaloosa after being so nomadic during the first 34 years of his coaching career, never staying more than five seasons in any place.
This will be Saban’s 12th season in Tuscaloosa. Why would he want to leave now?
In my opinion, the Ohio State position is the only one Saban should ever consider leaving Alabama for. Some thought he was considering Texas when it forced Mack Brown into retirement a few years ago, but it turns out those were only pipe dreams by the Longhorn faithful, many of whom have deeper pockets than anyone could dream of having.
As much of a monolith Alabama has become under Saban, and was under Bryant, Ohio State matches the Crimson Tide in many areas, and in some, the Buckeyes are superior.
First, there are many more people in Ohio than Alabama. The population of the Buckeye state according to a 2016 estimate was 11.67 million, compared to 4.88 million for Alabama.
Ohio is a gold mine for high school football players. The vast majority of the greatest Buckeyes prepped in their home state before making their way to Columbus to play for Woody Hayes, Jim Tressel, Meyer and some of the less successful coaches (Earle Bruce, John Cooper). The dream of most Ohio boys who play football is to don the scarlet and gray and come out of the tunnel at “The Horseshoe”. There may be pockets of Michigan fans near Toledo, and some who are loyal to the smaller schools in the state (Cincinnati, Toledo, Miami, et al), but Ohio State is THE school in the Buckeye State.
Alabama doesn’t have that luxury. It has to contend with another SEC power, Auburn, on the other side of the state. And Mobile is so close to Florida State, Florida and LSU that it routinely gets picked clean and the Crimson Tide can’t get all of the top talent there.
The Big Ten is considered the far superior conference academically among the Power Five. Northwestern is one of the most prestigious private schools in the United States. Michigan is considered a “Public Ivy”. Wisconsin has a strong academic reputation. So do Ohio State, Maryland, Rutgers and Penn State, although there’s still damage control going on in State College in the wake of Jerry Sandusky.
The SEC’s strongest academic schools are Vanderbilt and Florida. Alabama has seen an explosion in enrollment in recent years and is now the second most selective school of the 14 members of the conference, only behind Vandy, but the Mississippi schools really can’t raise their academic profiles as much as they’d like, given how poor the state is and how bad the education system is there.
Money is not an issue. Ohio State’s football budget is on par, if not more, than Alabama’s. The revenues produced by the Big Ten’s TV rights deals are equal, if not more than those in the SEC. The Big Ten Network is in more homes than the SEC Network, where many cable operators outside the SEC geographical footprint have refused to carry another ESPN owned network due to the high fees ESPN charges cable companies to carry it.
Actually, I think Saban has it easier in the SEC West than he would in the Big Ten East. I just don’t see Gus Malzahn sustaining the level of success at Auburn he enjoyed last year and in 2013, when it almost won the national championship. LSU has struggled badly against Alabama, and unfortunately for me, that doesn’t look like it will change any time soon. Arkansas and Mississippi State don’t have the resources to consistently win big. Ole Miss is going to have to rebuild after probation, and
The only potential challenger to Alabama’s iron grip on the SEC West (where the Tide and Auburn should not be, but that’s another blog post) is Texas A&M under Jimbo Fisher. However, Fisher has to deal with Texas in his own backyard, and TCU isn’t going anywhere as long as Gary Patterson is in charge. And what if Houston were to go to a Power Five conference?
In the Big Ten East, Michigan has been nothing but a big winner for the most part since Bo Schembechler’s day. Michigan State has been mostly good to very good under Mark Dantonio. Penn State appears to be on the straight and narrow again under James Franklin. Then again, the bottom of the Big Ten East–Indiana, Maryland, Rutgers–is pretty bad. Most of the West, Wisconsin excepted, can’t get its act together.
Again, I don’t think Saban is leaving Tuscaloosa.
The reason: the lady Nick Saban has been married to for almost 47 years.
Terry Saban is one of the most beloved women in the state’s history, right up there with Bryant’s wife, Mary Harmon; Lurleen Wallace, George’s wife who served briefly as governor when her husband could not run in the mid 1960s; Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, and of course, Helen Keller.
It is well known Terry Saban loves Tuscaloosa. She loves being the city’s queen bee. She loves living in close-knit college towns, and even though Tuscaloosa isn’t exactly Manhattan (the one in Kansas), Starkville or Stillwater, it still is a far cry from Columbus, which is now Ohio’s largest city and also has the state government. In that regard, Columbus is Baton Rouge (or Lincoln) on steroids. I don’t think Terry would enjoy Columbus as much, and that’s the biggest reason why Nick wouldn’t go to Ohio State.
On the other hand, Nick and Terry still have plenty of family in their native West Virginia, and Columbus is a lot closer to them than Tuscaloosa.
That said, Michael Drake should do all he can to try and lure Saban to Columbus. Drake should force Nick Saban to look him in the eye and say thanks but no thanks. It can’t hurt and would show Ohio State is committed to doing whatever it takes to keep Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State at bay.
First, Dr. Drake had better get it right and send Urban Meyer packing. That”s the biggest hurdle. If Meyer is allowed to return, then it shows Drake and Ohio State are in the football business for two reasons, money and titles, and not for truly educating young men, which would be a damn shame.
Of course, if Saban wants a REAL challenge, he could go to Ohio…back to his alma mater, Kent State.
Last week, Harley Barber, a 19-year old from New Jersey, was expelled by the University of Alabama for two posts on an Instagram account in which she repeatedly used the N-word to disparage black people.
It watched the videos. They were deplorable. Sadly, she was acting like many white sorority girls do at Alabama, Ole Miss, Georgia, Florida and other schools in the Deep South. She just was stupid enough to put her rants on social media, thinking she would not get caught. How naive. Once you put something on the Internet, it’st there to stay, no matter how many times you “scrub” it and think you’ve taken care of the cancer.
Here’s a bigger question: how does a young lady from Marlton, New Jersey end up at a university 947 miles from home without a good reason (read: athletic scholarship)?
Certainly there are plenty of good colleges in the Garden State. If she can’t get into Princeton (face it, most people can’t), there’s Rutgers, a pretty good university, the football and men’s basketball teams notwithstanding. Marlton isn’t too far from Philadelphia, which has Villanova, LaSalle, Drexel, Temple and St. Joseph’s (I’m not including Penn, because like Princeton, it’s an Ivy League school, and most of us, myself included, can’t sniff the Ivy League).
I can only think of one reason Ms. Barber wanted to attend school in Tuscaloosa.
Here’s a hint: they play on fall Saturdays in Bryant-Denny Stadium and other venues around the Southeastern Conference. They also are a permanent fixture in the College Football Playoff.
Alabama now has more students from outside the Yellowhammer State than from the 67 counties of the state (I’m guessing very few of those are from Lee County, where Auburn is located). Why? Alabama has the nation’s most dominant college football program.
Robert Witt, the University of Alabama president who hired Nick Saban in 2007, said Saban was a “bargain” and the “best thing I’ve ever done as a university administrator”.
I can’t disagree with Dr. Witt, because Alabama’s enrollment has zoomed past many of its SEC brethren, LSU included. It is now is the second most selective university in the SEC, trailing only Vanderbilt. Many who live in Tuscaloosa and the western part of the state might do better trying to attend Mississippi State or Southern Miss than the “Capstone”. At least there’s Auburn for those elsewhere in the state, along with South Alabama, Jacksonville State, UAB and two historically black colleges, Alabama A&M and Alabama State.
I had dreams of leaving Louisiana when I was growing up. I was seriously thinking about attending Kansas State, which is only a few more miles from New Orleans than Ms. Barber’s hometown is from Tuscaloosa.
However, Herb Vincent, then LSU’s sports information director who is now an associate commissioner with the SEC, convinced me LSU was the right place for a young lad who grew up in New Orleans. Ironically, Herb grew up in Little Rock and was a Razorback fan until he went to LSU and changed his allegiance.
I’m glad I stayed close to home. Lord knows I wasn’t ready to be 1,000 miles away from home in a foreign land, even if my grandfather was an hour and 40 minutes down the road.
If Ms. Barber went to Alabama because she loved the Crimson Tide’s football team, then she was in Tuscaloosa for the wrong reason. She probably could have found what she was looking for at Rutgers and saved her family a lot of money. Heck, if she wanted a school with a powerhouse football team, Penn State is only four hours to the west.
It would have been the same for me had I attended K-State. It wasn’t for Bill Snyder’s football team in my case, but it was to escape Louisiana and stick it to those who bullied me through high school. Those would have been terrible reasons to leave my home state. I certainly found what I was looking for at LSU, and Herb’s connections helped me in so many ways.
I’ve come to accept Alabama is going to be college football’s King Kong until Saban retires, and who’s to say the Tide won’t continue to motor along after he departs? However, I would not want to be the immediate successor to Saban, because the comparisons will be brutal.
Ray Perkins can attest. He went 32-15-1 in four seasons after Bear Bryant retired and died in short order, but it wasn’t good enough for the Alabama boosters, and Perkins bolted for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, by far the worst NFL franchise at the time, in 1987.
Ms. Barber has apologized for her actions. Hopefully she can get her life back together. New Brunswick, home of Rutgers’ main campus, is a pretty good place to pick up her education when she decides it’s time. Just keep your thoughts to yourself, ma’am.
For those who have been buried under a rock today, Alabama is the champion of major college football AGAIN.
The Crimson Tide won its fifth title in nine seasons last night, rallying from a 13-point deficit to defeat Southeastern Conference rival Georgia 26-23 in overtime.
Nick Saban has coached at Alabama 11 seasons, which happens to be the exact same length as his combined tenures at Toledo (one season), Michigan State (five) and LSU (five). He has won 127 games at Alabama and 218 overall as a head coach. Saban has now coached six national championship teams, tying him with Bear Bryant for most by any coach. The first was at LSU in 2003.
The 66-year old Saban has an excellent chance to winning more games in 25 seasons as a head coach than Tom Osborne did at Nebraska from 1973-97. Saban needs 33 to surpass “Dr. Tom”, and barring something calamitous, Saban will make it with room to spare. Saban will get to 300 barring something unforeseen, and I would bet on him passing Bryant’s mark of 323, which was the major college record until broken by the disgraced Joe Paterno and later Bobby Bowden.
I am well aware Osborne is revered in the Heartland, but I cannot accept he belongs on college football coaching’s Mount Rushmore ahead of the man in charge in Tuscaloosa.
Sorry, Husker nation, but Saban runs circles around Osborne in most every way you cut it.
Alabama rarely gets to play weaklings in the SEC like Nebraska did in the Big Eight, and Saban will usually challenge the Tide with a very difficult non-conference game at a neutral site, whereas Osborne loaded up on lesser teams, especially later in his career. Nebraska could pencil in Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State as sure-fire victories nearly every year before the first day of practice. Osborne never lost to KU or K-State, and very rarely bowed to the Cyclones. Missouri was terrible during most of Osborne’s last 14 years in Lincoln. Colorado had a very dark period in the late ’70s and early ’80s before Bill McCartney arrived. Oklahoma State sank to the bottom after it was hit hard by NCAA probation after the departure of Barry Sanders in 1989. Even Oklahoma fell off its perch following Barry Switzer’s resignation.
The SEC is not 14 powerhouses, but the Crimson Tide has to play three of the stronger programs in the conference every year: Auburn, LSU and Texas A&M. And the Tide will have to play a hard game to win the SEC championship, save for 2011 and ’17, when they won the national title without playing in the SEC championship game.
Saban has learned to do more with less. Coaches cannot work with student-athletes more than 20 hours a week during the season, a restriction which wasn’t in place until Osborne’s last years in Lincoln. Osborne was notorious for three-hour, full pads practices during the season and during bowl preparation, and I have to believe that was a big reason the Cornhuskers often bombed in bowl games. Saban knows when to back off and save his players’ bodies. His practices are fast-paced, but much shorter, and there is nowhere near the hitting Osborne had.
Saban has to deal with strict scholarship limits. When Osborne succeeded Bob Devaney, the NCAA was in its second year of scholarship limits, but it was 105. It was reduced to 95 in the 1980s and 85 in the ’90s. Saban has always had to deal with the 85 limit, except his one year at Toledo in 1990.
Osborne could get any player he wanted in Nebraska, even though Nebraska’s population is so small he had to go out of state. Not only that, but there are no major programs in North and South Dakota, and the two Kansas schools were usually so pitiful that the top players there wanted to escape, either to Lincoln or Norman.
Saban on the other hand has to deal with Auburn within the Yellowhammer State. Whenever he goes recruiting in the south, he’s battling Florida, Georgia, LSU, Texas A&M, Florida State, Miami and others for the big names.
Osborne rarely had turnover on his coaching staff. Saban, meanwhile, has constant turnover, mostly because his assistant coaches are in high demand. Last night, he beat Kirby Smart, who was the Crimson Tide’s defensive coordinator for nine seasons before returning to Georgia, his alma mater. Jeremy Pruitt, Smart’s successor at Alabama, will be coaching Tennessee next season. Jimbo Fisher, Saban’s offensive coordinator at LSU, moved from Florida State to Texas A&M. Will Muschamp, who coached with Saban at LSU and the Miami Dolphins, is at South Carolina after four seasons at Florida. Jim McElwain, the offensive coordinator on Saban’s first two national championship teams at Alabama, coached the Gators for nearly three seasons before being canned last October.
Osborne never wanted to change his offense or defense, until he finally realized the old 5-2 defense he ran was no match for the speed of Florida State and Miami in bowl games. It wasn’t until the Huskers went to the 4-3 that Osborne won a national championship.
Saban, meanwhile, adapts nicely to his personnel. He ran the 4-3 at Michigan State and LSU, but is running mostly a 3-4 at Alabama, although the Tide presents multiple looks which give offensive coordinators nightmares. Offensively, Saban would prefer to play smashmouth, but if he has a gifted quarterback, he won’t be afraid to open it up, like he did with Rohan Davey at LSU and A.J. McCarron at Alabama.
Osborne is one of two college football coaches who is revered like the Almighty Himself in this part of the United States.
Time to compare Saban to the other one.
Bill Snyder, who has coached at Kansas State since 1989, save for a three-year retirement between 2006-08, is already in the Hall of Fame, since there is a rule an active coach can be inducted once he turns 75. Saban will most certainly be inducted five years after he retires or turns 75, whichever comes first.
Nobody will deny Snyder has performed near-miracles at K-State, given how putrid the Wildcats were prior to his arrival. K-State was the only major college program to lose 500 games when Snyder arrived. Since then, Wake Forest has assumed the mantle of the lowest winning percentage among Power Five schools (surprising given how bad Kansas has often been), but the worry is
However, I cannot, will not, must not rate Snyder ahead of Saban. No way.
Saban and Snyder are diametrically opposed as far as scheduling philosophies.
Saban would rather the Tide play all Power Five non-conference opponents, but realizes he does not call the shots in scheduling, and thus has to take on teams from outside the Power Five in order for Alabama to keep its athletic department in the black. Saban is not afraid to take on the big games away from Tuscaloosa, such as facing Florida State in 2017 at Atlanta, or USC in 2016 at Arlington.
Snyder, on the other hand, loves cupcakes so much he could get sponsorship deals from Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines. His scheduling formula is a source of constant ridicule outside of Kansas, as it should be. He attempted to buy his way out of a home game with Auburn after the Wildcats played at Jordan-Hare under Ron Prince, but Jay Jacobs made the buyout financially prohibitive. Snyder tried the same with Miami and couldn’t get out of it. Yes, K-State is starting to schedule SEC schools, but it’s Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and Missouri. I’m not saying it has to be Alabama and Georgia, but LSU and Texas A&M would be a major upgrade.
Saban recruits mostly high school players, young men he can mold and shape over four or five years. Snyder wants the “mature” player, and that’s why K-State almost always signs more junior college players than any other Power Five program. It may be a quick fix, but Saban’s methods have been far more effective.
Outside of recruiting, Snyder’s are so unorthodox that they would never work in Tuscaloosa. Saban is not known as a media-friendly coach in the mold of Mack Brown, Pete Carroll or Steve Spurrier, but Snyder is far worse with the press than Saban. Snyder was the first college football coach to completely shut the media out of practice, tightly limit access to players (there is only a very small window each week to contact players at K-State), and not allow the media to talk to assistant coaches at all. Saban has done that, too, but Snyder was the first and took it to an extreme in a time when there was more open access.
Saban and Snyder are very similar in that they put in very long hours at the office. That’s one regard where Spurrier had it right: work smart, not long.
K-State is dreading the day Snyder retires or dies. It knows it will be an also-ran in the Big 12 once that happens.
Would Snyder have won big at Iowa had he been Hayden Fry’s successor instead of leaving for Manhattan? I doubt it. You can’t argue with the results at K-State, but Snyder’s program is not for everyone.
Saban, meanwhile, won big at two SEC schools, and if he had stayed longer at Michigan State and not been hamstrung with severe penalties early in his tenure at East Lansing, the Spartans would have been elite under his watch. Toledo went 9-2 in Saban’s only season there, so that’s another notch in his belt.
Osborne and Snyder did it at one place. It’s impressive yes, but for Saban to do it wherever he’s been makes him one of the greats.
The worst nightmare of many college football fans has come true.
Not to mention a nightmare for the Nielsen folks.
Next Monday’s College Football Playoff championship game is an all-Southeastern Conference matchup between Alabama and Georgia.
The howls were long and loud after Alabama received the #4 spot in the CFP semifinals, ahead of Big Ten champion Ohio State, even though the Crimson Tide not only did not win the SEC championship, they did not even play for the championship.
Auburn defeated Alabama 26-14 in the regular season finale to give the Tigers the SEC West division championship and the spot opposite East division champion Georgia in the SEC championship game. The Bulldogs avenged a 40-17 loss to the Tigers with a 28-7 victory in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, moving Georgia up to No.3 in the final CFP rankings.
Yesterday, Georgia defeated Oklahoma 54-48 in two overtimes in the Rose Bowl, then Alabama suffocated defending national champion Clemson 24-6 in the Sugar Bowl to set up the second all-SEC championship game in seven seasons.
The last time this happened, Alabama happened to be in the same position it was this time.
In 2011, the Crimson Tide’s only loss in the regular season came to LSU, 9-6 in overtime at Tuscaloosa. That allowed the Bayou Bengals to win the West division, and they went on to stomp Georgia 42-10 in the SEC title game.
Even though the Tide didn’t even win their division, they still made the championship game of what was then the Bowl Championship Series by the slimmest of margins over Big 12 champion Oklahoma State. The Cowboys’ lone loss was a 44-41 overtime setback at Iowa State two weeks after Alabama lost to LSU.
While I cannot stand Nick Saban and Alabama, I can see much more justification for the Tide getting into this year’s CFP than I could in 2011 when Alabama was selected to play for the BCS championship.
First, there was precedent for Alabama this season.
Last year, Ohio State lost to Penn State, its only loss of the regular season, keeping the Buckeyes out of the Big Ten championship game, since the Nittany Lions won the East division on the head-to-head tiebreaker. Penn State won the Big Ten championship over Wisconsin, but had to settle for #5 in the final CFP poll and a berth in the Rose Bowl.
Ohio State, meanwhile, finished #3–ahead of Pac-12 champion Washington–and got to play Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl. The Tigers mauled the Buckeyes 31-0, then bested Alabama 35-31 in the title game.
Second, even with the loss to Iowa State, Oklahoma State had just as strong a case as Alabama to go to the title game.
The Cowboys defeated three other teams which ended up winning 10 games–Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma. Oklahoma State played a nine-game conference schedule, while Alabama played only eight. The Tide’s non-conference schedule for the most part was laughable–Kent State, North Texas and Georgia Southern. Yes, Alabama played Penn State in State College, but that was not a great Nittany Lions team, and the weight of the Jerry Sandusky scandal was about to come down and smash Penn State for the foreseeable future.
In 2011, LSU got screwed. Its reward for going 13-0 against what was determined to be the nation’s toughest schedule by the NCAA? A rematch with a team it beat on that team’s home field. Alabama won 21-0.
This time, Georgia and Alabama did not play in the regular season, which is not right. Alabama should be in the East division with Auburn, while Missouri and Vanderbilt should be in the West, but that’s another argument for another day.
Today, thousands upon thousands of people have taken to every social media platform available to decry the situation. Most of the comments read:
“The CFP committee is biased towards the SEC”
“ESPN wanted this matchup because it owns the SEC Network”
“Alabama always gets what it wants”
“Everyone kisses Nick Saban’s ass”
“Alabama doesn’t deserve to go ahead of Ohio State, which won the Big Ten”
“Central Florida (UCF) is the national champion because it is undefeated”
The last one makes me laugh. UCF played a pathetic schedule. It plays in a pathetic conference, the American Athletic Conference. Why should it get special consideration? If UCF wants that respect, it needs to play all of its non-conference games on the road against Power 5 conference schools. Then they can talk smack.
The television ratings for the Alabama-LSU game in January 2012 were the lowest for a championship game since the BCS’ first championship game in January 1999. I’m guessing 98% of television sets in Alabama and Georgia will be tuned in to the game this Monday, but the numbers will decrease rapidly the father away you get from Alabama and Georgia. Do you think someone in San Francisco is going to rush home from work to watch the game, which kicks off at 5:15 Pacific? Highly unlikely.
Many hotels in Atlanta are probably unhappy the Bulldogs are playing for the title. It’s only 72 miles from Georgia’s campus in Athens to Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Hotels in Atlanta are expensive to begin with, and I’m sure the rates are through the roof leading up to the game. Alabama fans probably won’t stay long in Atlanta, either, considering it’s a little over three hours from Tuscaloosa to downtown Atlanta.
Ticket brokers? That’s another story. A report today said someone paid over $104,000 for ten tickets to the game. That’s two new Impalas plus plenty left over.
It is what it is. At least we will not hear about it anymore by this time next week.
LSU and Alabama play football tonight in Tuscaloosa.
It’s being called a rivalry. It’s being over hyped as it is each and every stinking year.
That is the wrong approach, especially for LSU.
Alabama would not make a big deal out of it if (a) Nick Saban hadn’t previously coached LSU and (b) LSU has generally been the last team the Crimson Tide has needed to beat to assure themselves of a spot in the SEC championship game.
Believe me, Alabama fans care much more about beating Auburn. Bear Bryant famously said he’d rather beat the “Cow College” (owing to Auburn’s status as Alabama’s primary agricultural university) once than Notre Dame ten times. Just substitute LSU, Mississippi State, Texas A&M or just about anyone else for Notre Dame and it’s still accurate.
LSU fans need to stop slitting their throats over the Alabama game.
I admit I did it last year. I went nuts on Twitter and Facebook when LSU lost 10-0 to the Tide in Baton Rouge.
I was wrong to have done so.
I’m not going to do anything this year.
Look, it’s going to take Jupiter aligning with Mars (sorry, Fifth Dimension) for LSU to win. The Bayou Bengals need Bert Jones to step into a time machine and go back to his senior season of 1972 to have a chance to score against Alabama’s defense. Since that’s not possible, I don’t see my alma mater scoring much, if at all.
LSU fans like to consider Alabama its biggest rival.
It’s only a rivalry if both teams hate each other equally. Not the case for Alabama, which will hate Auburn much more until the end of time. And for many Tide fans, Tennessee is a bigger rival than LSU.
LSU-Ole Miss? The last time both teams were in serious national championship contention at the same time was 1959, the year Billy Cannon returned a Rebel punt 89 yards for a touchdown with 10 minutes left, then helped stop Ole Miss quarterback Doug Elmore at the LSU 1 in the waning moments to preserve a 7-3 win.
Ole Miss’ rivalry with Mississippi State (the Egg Bowl) has far more significance for the Rebels than it once did, largely because the Bulldogs are now the alpha team in the Magnolia State. Without much talent in the state to go around, Ole Miss and State have to battle tooth and nail for every prospect, and that’s not even mentioning Alabama, which is only 95 miles from Starkville, plus LSU and Arkansas, whose states border Mississippi.
Arkansas? The Razorbacks baited the line. LSU refused to bite.
Florida? Never. The Gators already have Florida State and Georgia. And I’m certain there is plenty of hatred in Gainesville for Miami, even if the teams haven’t played much in the last 30 years.
LSU, your rival is Texas A&M. Sure, Aggie fans hate the Longhorns more than they could ever hate the Bayou Bengals,
I don’t know how much I’m watching tonight. I’ve braced myself for the worst. I hope I’m wrong. If I’m right, the world will still be spinning on its axis tomorrow morning.