You know, when Nick Saban chided Alabama fans for not staying in their seats for the entirety of games, I thought it was mockable. I mean, if you want the fans to stay 60 minutes, give ’em something more than watching your fourth-string quarterback hand off to your fifth-string tailback six times in a row in the fourth quarter of a six-touchdown rout of a cupcake.
When Kirby Smart turned Georgia’s spring game from a pleasant day trip for the fan base into a recruiting mission, I was mildly irritated, but recognized that at least he’s given us something to be excited about and seemed genuinely grateful for our turnout.
As far as Jeremy Pruitt’s bizarre chastisement of UT’s fans?
“To me, it’s kind of like our football team for the fans. The ones that were here, I’m proud they’re here. They’re fired up, ready to get going. And then there were some people that weren’t here, they had legitimate reasons they couldn’t be here. Then there were some people that weren’t here, why weren’t they here? It’s kind of like our football team. I think we all need to look in the mirror and see who we want to be.”
Welp, it sure seems like somebody needs to look in the mirror, alright.
Anyway, I guess that’s part of what comes these days from the Saban coaching tree, so while I can’t say I excuse that line of thinking, at least I get what it’s about. What I don’t get is what I suppose is the next stage in this — the media taking steps to normalize these coaches’ expectations/demands of their fan bases. Take, for example, Barrett Sallee’s defense of Pruitt.
Isn’t this what you wanted, Vol fans? Don’t you want the best? Don’t you expect the best? Don’t you want a coach who strives for perfection in every aspect of the program?
That’s what Nick Saban does at Alabama, and that’s what Kirby Smart has implemented at Georgia. Not coincidentally, those are the two teams that played in the College Football Playoff National Championship in January.
Pruitt might not be as successful as either of his two mentors, and certainly has a steeper hill to climb than they do considering the tradition at Alabama and the fertile recruiting ground that exists in Smart’s backyard. But at least he’s following a tried-and-true blueprint that has proven to be successful.
Could he work on his delivery? Maybe. After all, talking down — or even giving off the appearance of talking down — to your own fan base prior to ever coaching a real game is a bold move.
If by “bold” you mean “dick”, I suppose you have a point there, Barrett. A somewhat creepy point, but a point nonetheless.
Seriously, when did we cross the line from being passionate about a program to being enlisted in Gawd’s Army? Jeremy Pruitt is being paid nearly four million dollars a year to win football games and that somehow entitles him to make demands on a fan base — a fan base that’s put up with years of mediocre football, by the way — that forks over the bucks that contribute to his paycheck? What other organized sport approaches its fans like that?
I suppose the next development will be for a coach or his athletic director to blame a sub-par season or recruiting class on inadequate fan support. And there will probably be some pundit out there ready to stroke his chin and admit there’s something to that excuse. When the coach or AD gets canned, at least they’ll have a sweet buyout provision to fall back on. All we fans will get is a guilt trip from the new guy in town. And then we’ll be told to like it.