Category Archives: Nick Saban Rules

“Nick’s got a lot of advantages.”

This whole thing is a pretty worthless exercise, given the small sample size and anonymity of the responders, but let me just say that if I were an athletic director who discovered my head coach opined that Nick Saban is overrated, I’d fire his ass on the spot.

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Filed under Nick Saban Rules

Nick Saban, “so far out”

Nick Saban’s over a nine-game conference schedule now.

He wants ten games.  And more.

“We should play all teams in the Power 5 conferences,” Saban said Wednesday. “If we did that, then if we were going to have bowl games, we should do the bowl games just like we do in the NCAA basketball tournament — not by record but by some kind of power rating that gets you in a bowl game. If we did that, people would be a little less interested in maybe bowl games and more interested in expanding the playoff.”

“You eliminate the six wins to get in a bowl game and now you can have a different kind of scheduling that is more fan interest, more good games, bring out the better quality team,” he said, “and whether you expand the playoff or have a system where it’s like now — we take the top 12 teams and decide what bowl game they go to — just take them all.

“In this scenario, there would be more opportunity to play more teams in your league, as well as to have more games that people would be interested in. We all play three or four games a year now that nobody’s really interested in. We’d have more good games, more public interest, more fan interest, better TV.”

Saban suggested a 10-game SEC schedule, for example, plus two Power 5 nonconference opponents during the regular season.

Other than why this would need to lead to playoff expansion, I’m in love.  How can you argue with any of “more good games, more public interest, more fan interest, better TV”?  That’s why I question his embrace of the basketball tournament format.  An expanded tourney waters down the regular season; there may be more good regular season college basketball games by his standard, but March Madness dilutes them of much meaning and, thus, public interest.

But combine the rest of what he’s talking about with the current four-school football playoff?  Jeez, talk about heaven on earth…

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, College Football, Nick Saban Rules

My favorite year

Without a doubt, in my lifetime as a college football fan (as opposed to a Georgia football fan), there’s no season I have enjoyed more than the 2007 one.  It was absolutely and unpredictably nuts from start to finish, with plenty of stops along the way.

So, it is with great pleasure that I share with you SBNation’s tribute to that season.  Check out the following pieces in particular:

The end result:  the only national champion to lose two regular season games in multiple overtimes.

Crazy as hell.  But great.  I doubt we’ll see another season like it again.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, College Football, Georgia Football, Nick Saban Rules, The Evil Genius, Urban Meyer Points and Stares

The hottest of hot takes on the Freeze fallout

Everything in the SEC always comes back to one man.

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Filed under Freeze!, Media Punditry/Foibles, Nick Saban Rules

Right now, they’re all just playing for second place.

Hmmm

SEC dominance can be broken up into three periods involving three coaches.

Bear Bryant. Steve Spurrier.

Nick Saban.

During the Saban era Alabama has flourished with talent and championships. The Crimson Tide have won three consecutive SEC titles and five of the past 10. Saban’s Alabama teams have won four national championships and came seconds short of a fifth in last season’s thrilling 35-31 loss to Clemson.

During the past decade, the SEC has stated its claim as the best conference in college football. But has Alabama become too good for even the rest of the conference?

The Crimson Tide’s reign hasn’t showed signs of slowing down any time soon. Therefore, a fear exists that Alabama has widened the gap between itself and the rest of the SEC.

if I didn’t know any better

There is parity in the league, yes, but only behind Saban and his Crimson Tide. No, teams do not prepare, develop or build the same way Alabama does. That’s why the SEC is a one-team league, and the gap is so big right now that it almost seems foolish to contemplate picking someone besides Alabama to win the conference so long as Saban is coaching in Tuscaloosa.

“The consistency of that program over the years did not come overnight,” said Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, who is 1-4 against Saban’s Tide during his time with the Aggies. “I think people understand that. But you can’t argue that that is the mark, and that’s where everybody wants to be.

“You can win a lot of games in the West, and that one can take its toll on you. I think it took its toll on us the last couple of years, matter of fact.”

Alabama takes its toll on everyone. In the past three seasons, the Tide have owned the league, winning 25 of 27 games against SEC opponents. The only SEC West opponent who has managed to beat Alabama since Auburn’s magical kick-six win in 2013 is Ole Miss (twice); the SEC East, meanwhile, is 0-9 against the Crimson Tide.

Of Alabama’s 25 wins over SEC opponents in three seasons, 20 have been by double figures, including the last eight — which Alabama won by a combined 219 points (27.4-point margin of victory). During that stretch, five different SEC teams have won 10 games, but West has largely failed to challenge the Tide. The East, for its part, has been widely condemned as one of the nation’s worst divisions.

… I’d say a common theme has emerged.

… This year? It feels like Alabama and everyone else—just as it did last year. Since losing the Kick-Six game to Auburn in November 2013, Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide have so thoroughly dominated the SEC that they’ve sucked all the competitive oxygen from a league that used to produce multiple national title contenders on an annual basis. And unless some teams have improved dramatically in the offseason, it doesn’t feel like anyone is ready to close the gap.

Tide coach Nick Saban launched his appearance Wednesday with a crack that probably turned the stomachs of his fellow coaches. “I’m kind of proud of the fact that this is my 16th SEC Media Day, the 11th at Alabama,” Saban said. “I’m sure that there’s nobody in this room that thought that would ever happen when it started out 11 years ago.” Couple this with recent comments from the 65-year-old Saban that he has no intention of retiring anytime soon, and that means misery for the rest of the league.

Since 2014, Alabama has gone 25–2 in SEC play, won three SEC titles and reached the College Football Playoff three times. The average margin in those SEC games is an 18.2-point Alabama win. Take out Ole Miss, which beat Alabama in ’14 and ’15 and which pushed the Tide in a five-point Alabama win last year, and the number jumps to 20.8. With the Rebels’ recruiting hamstrung in recent years by an NCAA case, the one team that had figured out how to compete with the Tide could be headed downhill. So it’ll be up to the teams that have averaged a three-touchdown whipping from Alabama to find a way to hang with the Tide.

While Alabama’s dominance is great for everyone in Tuscaloosa, it’s terrible for the health of the SEC.

Nick Saban is like the weather — everybody talks about him, but nobody does anything about it.  Or at least nobody’s done anything about it yet.

The problem isn’t drawing up a road map for success.  It’s pretty obvious that to compete with Alabama on its own terms means a program has to possess three things:  (1) excellent coaching; (2) quality roster depth; and (3) quarterback play good enough to present a legitimate threat to Alabama’s defensive scheme.  As the cliché goes, though, the devil’s in the details.  If those items were easy to achieve, Nick Saban wouldn’t be the $7+ million a year colossus he is today.  (At present, the only program out there I would acknowledge that meets all three criteria on a consistent basis is Ohio State, although I can see an argument being made for FSU.  Give Clemson a little more time and I may concede that, too.)

I will say that, judging from recruiting, you can see Kirby Smart buys the same road map.  It’s not his vision that should be questioned, merely his ability to execute his vision.  That’s something we should get a better handle on this season, I think.

One thing I’m a little curious about is whether Smart had to explain his philosophy to return Georgia football to SEC prominence — which means beating Alabama at least occasionally — to get the job offer.  It would have been impressive to see him paint that picture. (Then again, he may have had Butts-Mehre at “I’m interviewing for the South Carolina job”.)

Let’s hope he shows us in the next couple of seasons that he knows what he’s doing.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Nick Saban Rules

Nick Saban isn’t man enough.

According to this Al.com writer, the reason Nick Saban didn’t mention Auburn in his list of conference schools gaining on Alabama is because he’s scared Auburn is already the best team in the SEC.

SEC Media Days sure bring out the media smarts, don’t they?

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Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles, Nick Saban Rules

Finding the next Saban

I’m seeing a lot of these “SEC East schools are stupid for hiring Saban disciples” pieces lately.  This is pretty common reasoning:

The two most productive branches of his coaching tree have gone to conferences other than the SEC: Mark Dantonio and Jimbo Fisher have built programs at Michigan State and Florida State. Meanwhile, the SEC’s subsequent efforts to “find the next Saban” have been fruitless, and as long as Saban is on top, he shows no signs of letting a former assistant get the best of him or build a program that lunges past Alabama as the SEC’s standard-bearer.

And yet, SEC programs — exclusively those in the East — keep on hiring them in hopes of making it happen.

The logic isn’t necessarily faulty. Time and a mountain of examples have simply exposed the strategy as specious at best and foolhardy at worst. Hiring a Saban assistant is like playing Texas hold’em, knowing your opponent is holding pocket kings and going all in with a suited jack and queen anyway. You’ve still got a pretty good hand, but what chance do you have at knocking off the big stack at the table?

“Maybe if we hire someone who knows how he ticks, we’ll find a way to beat him.” 

In reality, the reverse appears to be far more accurate. The idea that Saban’s reign as the king of the SEC — and really, college football — will end at the hands of a protégé looks sillier by the day. In fact, the next time a Saban assistant beats him head-to-head will be the first. They’ve all come up empty in nine tries.

Oh for nine… case closed, I suppose.

Certainly that’s not a good track record, but let’s not pretend the rest of the world is doing much better.  Saban’s record at Alabama now stands at 114-19, with six of those losses coming in his first season there.  In other words, his teams have lost a grand total of thirteen games in their last nine seasons.

Never mind that.  Ubben has some tough love for Florida and Georgia on the subject.

Florida football (and underachieving Georgia, while we’re on the subject) does not exist to win division titles and be subsequently sacrificed at the altar of Saban in Atlanta on the first Saturday of December. It’s cause to wonder if those in charge of hiring have paid any attention to the parade of swings and misses at dethroning Saban — or the haymakers that have caused his empire to wobble, even if those wobbles were ever so slight.

That’s not really as good a question as it sounds.  Alabama is dominant because of resources.  If you want to go toe-to-toe with the Tide, you’d best not be lagging behind in the recruiting department.  (A lesson that Kirby Smart grasps more firmly than does Jim McElwain, it seems.)  That’s how Ohio State managed the trick.

Just as importantly, if you want to beat Alabama, you’d better have a transcendent quarterback.  Think of some of the teams that have notched wins over the years:  Auburn, with Cam and Nick Marshall; Texas A&M, with Manziel; Clemson, with Watson.  Does anyone in the SEC have comparable talent at the position right now?  (That’s a rhetorical question, peeps.)

While I question the decision making that led Georgia to hire someone without any previous head coaching experience, I’m not stubborn enough to say Smart should have been disqualified merely for having been a Saban assistant.  If anyone knows where the weak points in Tuscaloosa are, it should be Kirby Smart.  As to whether that’s enough to bring Georgia to Alabama’s level, give me a couple more recruiting classes and a couple more years of quarterback development to see.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Nick Saban Rules