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Posts Tagged ‘Bama’

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.

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Here’s a question I’m hearing a lot: I’m an Alabama fan; should I feel slighted that Rodriguez took the Michigan job in ’08 after turning down Bama in ’07?

My answer? No. Alabama should definitely not feel slighted by Rich Rodriguez accepting the Michigan job.

Why? Because of the two primary factors involved:

  • West Virginia had a very good stock of returning talent for ’07 and Rodriguez knew he’d have a decent shot at a national title.
  • For ’08, WVU’s talent stock will be significantly lower, and the likelihood of competing again for the NC will drop significantly.

Basically, the time was not right for a job change in ’07, but it couldn’t have been better for ’08.
 
Additionally, Alabama in ’07 would have been a rebuilding project. Rodriguez likely looked at the two situations in hand (WVU or Bama for the ’07 season) in terms of what the hires could mean in a few years, rather than at their immediate benefits. When he was offered the Bama gig, he had a lot of stock as a head coach, but no National Championship. Looking at the talent pool at both schools, the chance of winning a NC at WVU was pretty good, but at Bama it was not. Realistically, the only situation for Rich Rodriguez in ’07 that might have improved his situation was with an Alabama-caliber school which was also in a position to compete for a National Championship. Alabama, clearly, was not. This little factor would effectively narrow the potential schools to: USC, Florida, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Michigan and the like, none of which were on the table at the time.

Championships being the primary motivation for any coach, it’s easy to see why he would remain at a school with inferior facilities for lower pay for another year or two. He realized his shot was happening at WVU, while accepting the Bama gig would have meant rebuilding the team, a prospect that is altogether likely due to the many benefits of coaching at a school like Alabama, but for immediate gratification as well as what a potential NC would mean for his future, it made sense to stay put.

Supposing he had taken the Bama job, the chances of his team being ranked #2 in the country going into the last week of the season would have been practically nil. He would have been stuck in the same 6-6 (or similar) season Saban has been stuck in, collecting talent and building for the future. As it is though, he had his shot and, though he failed, it could do nothing to his stock as a proven head football coach because based on his schedule alone he was virtually guaranteed a winning season. Combine that with the potential for a NC and it was a no-brainer.

Now, fast forward to ’08 and look at the motivating factors: Your star running back is gone next year and your talent stock is declining. You’re facing a potential rebuilding year regardless if you stay at WVU, and word has it your relationship with the WVU AD is strained. Plus, the promises made by WVU to keep him from leaving for Alabama have yet to even get a sniff at becoming reality. Time, clearly, was right for leaving. Since he stayed at WVU for that one extra season, taking his shot at the title and finishing the year ranked in the top ten if not top five, you knew someone was going to come calling. That someone just happened to be Michigan, who have a lot of talent in place, so rebuilding won’t be nearly as significant a project as it would have been at Bama in ’07 or WVU in ’08.

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