Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Roll Tide On South Beach

Happy 2013 everyone. It's been a while since I've been on cyber space, and since there was so much excitement about it last night, I figured it was time to rejoin. Over 100,000 followers for one girl whose face was shown on the television about five times? I would like to firmly say I was not one of those bandwagon followers who decided to follow Katherine Webb's (AJ McCaron's girlfriend) every move on twitter. No, I was already following her. Just kidding, on both accounts--I definitely am now following her. And despite twitter followers, she was not the center of attention last night. Believe it or not there was a football game that went on in Miami, sort of.

Nick Saban and Alabam wave to fans after winning last night's National Championship. photo credit: sbnation.com

I, like most of you, believed Notre Dame had a chance to beat Alabama in last night's BCS Championship game. 12-0...great coach...tough schedule...and it was Notre Dame. And then they played. It quickly became: 12-1...good coach...mediocre schedule...still Notre Dame though. Rudy couldn't have saved the Irish. Forrest Gump was not needed for the Tide. Alabama manhandled Notre Dame. That's being nice. They made them look like the Little Giants, before they beat the Cowboys, of course. Notre Dame's version of Becky "The Icebox" O'Shea forgot how to tackle. Notre Dame's secondary looked like they might as well have been wearing honolulu blue and silver. When you've got Manti Te'o missing tackles, and the grand canyon for Eddie Lacy to run through, well that's when you see 42-14. All of that on the table, the Irish deserved to be there.

Now the haters out there will take to twitter and say they would have rather seen Oregon (cough Lebron--can't pass up an opportunity to hate on him). Maybe Oregon would have fared better. Maybe the New York Jets would have fared better, although probably not. But the point is, the Irish went 12-0. Nobody beat them, no matter how many teams should have beat them. They did not play an easy schedule. It was rather the opposite. That Oregon team lost to Stanford...Notre Dame did not. Sure the Cardinal had a different quarterback for the two games, but how is it Notre Dame's fault that Stanford couldn't evaluate their talent well enough when they came to South Bend? You go 12-0 and you are Notre Dame, you're going to the title game. Deal with it. Get over it. Period.

The problem for Notre Dame was not their schedule. It wasn't anything they did or did not do. They ran into a brick wall. Ronald Reagan couldn't have influenced that wall coming down. I thought it was ironic that at halftime Brian Kelly didn't have much to say about what his team could do better. For the first time in a while, instead of dancing around the question and giving the generic "we have to execute our game plan better and not make mental mistakes," Kelly instead said what everybody watching the game was thinking: Alabama is damn good.

Tricky Nick

It starts at the top. You've heard that saying numerous times. Half the time you don't even know what it means. In sports, however, it's clear. The coach runs the show, unless Kobe is on your team. College football is no different. And whether you love him or hate him, Nick Saban may be the best ever.

There's a bold statement to capture your attention. The thing is I hate Nick Saban. I don't know him at all. I've never met him, I've never seen him, I have hardly heard him speak. But I hate him. The guy is cheat codes. He's too good. My hatred for Saban started long before the entire state of Alabama began its love affair with the coach. Nick Saban made a name for himself in East Lansing. Two hot shot young coaches were making names for both themselves and their programs. Saban had made Michigan State football relevant for the first time since Bubba Smith laced up his cleats. And Tom Izzo had recaptured the "magic" that MSU basketball had been so desperately missing. There they were, two coaches in the spotlight, doing the right things, and winning. And just like that, Saban was gone.

Nick Saban coaching Michigan State. photo credit: wosn.tv

Now LSU is a more appealing job than Michigan State is, plain and simple. Saban could have made Michigan State into a power though. But he left. Oh well, he thought it would advance his career, and he was right. I guess it makes me love Tom Izzo more. All the times he could have bolted, whether for other college jobs or the NBA, Izzo stayed put. Saban did it the easy way. He took the job at LSU. He won a national title. He left. Insert the Miami Dolphins and go ahead and describe it as disaster. Back to college for Nick, and it's unlikely he will ever leave again. Why the hell would he? Five mil a year, any high school player you want, and oh yeah you coach in the heart of dixie. He was bound to win the game in Miami, since he hardly won anything in the pros there. Saban is so good he makes the Auburn girls like Alabama. And now Nick is approaching that other coach from dixie, Bear Bryant.

It's going to be difficult for Saban to ever achieve the love that Bear Bryant has in Alabama. The stadium in Tuscaloosa is named after him for Christ's sake. But one thing has been presented: Saban is the greatest college football coach in this era. That is certainly up for debate and many people will debate it. But think about it. Saban has now faced three of the four midwestern powerhouse football programs, in the last three years. Notre Dame...check. Michigan...check. Michigan State...check. The scores of those games? A combined 132-35. Are you kidding me? 132-35???

Those games illustrate to me why Saban is the best since the Bear. In all three of those games, there was plenty of time for both teams to prepare. Are Alabama's players more talented than those three teams? Yeah, probably. But not 100 points better. Saban faced Michigan State and Notre Dame at the end of the season. He had about a month to prepare for both of those games. He faced Michigan at the beginning of the year. He had plenty of time to prepare for that one, too. Mark D'Antonio, Brady Hoke, and Brian Kelly are all very good coaches. Yet Saban made all of them look like they were coaching their first game.

Is that the whole story? Obviously not. Saban has lost games as well. He lost one this year. But even Bear Bryant lost games. Three titles in four seasons. Four titles overall. And kids, the scary part is that he isn't done. Expect Alabama to be back. They had five players drafted in the first thirty-five picks of last year's NFL Draft. And then they won another National Championship. Whether you are in cyber space or real life, that is pretty damn good.

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