Has General Tecumseh Sherman returned to Georgia? No, it’s only Nick Saban, and that dark cloud of smoke hanging over Athens is just the smoke from 90,000 black shirts burning. I think it’s safe to say the Georgia “blackout” is a thing of the past, and Nick Saban has, at least according to Jim Rome, established himself as the greatest college football coach ever.
The architect of two current top-5 teams, Saban is an old school savant with his bruising rushing attack, opening up the play-action pass and involving freshman phenom Julio Jones. But most impressive of all right now is the sheer domination of Terrence “Mt.” Cody, who anchors the line. Georgia’s game plan was supposed to be simple–sweep left, sweep right, tire Mt. Cody out and then chuck it down field to A.J. Green. Er, not so fast. Mt. Cody is not only a mountain of a man, but he’s mobile, too, and Julio Jones outperformed Green in the freshman phenom competition. In fact, if you look closely at the stats, Julio has more touchdowns than Green. Green benefits from the pass-happy Georgia offense, but Julio’s stats are compiled in a run-oriented offense. And Knowshon? Well, he was a no-show, and felt on one play the full impact of a Mt. Cody pancake tackle, when all you could see was no-show’s little feet sticking out from beneath the mountain.
And the best news of all? Auburn, winners of six straight against their cross-state rivals, are now largely irrelevant. In terms of the national championship, as they’ve always been, they are irrelevant. And the road to the SEC west now rolls through either Baton Rouge or Tuscaloosa. And–even better–it doesn’t even matter if Auburn wins against Alabama for a seventh year in a row, that will have been all they’ve accomplished in their greatest decade ever. Auburn’s greatest accomplishment during Alabama’s down years has been to beat Alabama. Sure, they have one SEC championship to their credit, bringing their grand total to six, the same number as Georgia Tech, who isn’t even in the SEC any more. What more have they accomplished in the past ten years? Nothing. And now, all is well, Auburn is back where they belong, the irrelevant auburn-haired step-child of college football. In Alabama’s worst years–and make no mistake, these past ten years have been Alabama’s worst–Auburn took advantage of the situation by accomplishing no grander a feat than to beat a talent-deprived Bama team.
Once again, Alabama’s eyes are on the big prize, and despite having been beaten for six consecutive years by their cross-state rivals, Auburn is literally not even registering on the radar. In Auburn’s best years, their success or rate of failure is measured only by what they accomplish in their final regular season game. Loft aspirations, right? Uh, right. Auburn doesn’t have their eyes on the big prize. They’d like to win the national championship, sure, just like they’d like to win the SEC. But for Auburn, success is still only measured by whether or not they beat Alabama.
In the past ten years, when Alabama has been the most irrelevant team in the state, Auburn gloried in its accomplishments, crowned by the beating of Alabama at the end of the year. And that’s the big difference between these two programs: when Auburn is irrelevant–as they are now–Auburn is just another game on Alabama’s schedule in the way of a much larger prize. Alabama is the bully again, and Auburn is the step child. Alabama wants nothing more than to win the SEC and contend for the National Championship. At this point, Auburn is just another game in the way.
Get out of the way.