Saban can’t get off scot-free for Sugar Bowl stinkerPublished 10:07am Monday, January 6, 2014
As a sometimes columnist for The Outlook, I was surprised to learn that I am not given a media pass and expense account to check out the Sugar Bowl. I mean, what kind of operation are they running over there, anyway?
Anywho, had the paper been so kind to send me to New Orleans, I do know what my first question to Nick Saban would have been in the post-game Q&A session.
“Ahem. Yes, Luke Robinson, AC Outlook. Yeah, just one question Coach … WHAT THE @#$%^& WAS THAT?!?”
Really, Saban? You give the fans some contrived diatribe about complacency and staying for four quarters before letting Oklahoma “Boomer” your “Sooner”?
Look, my love for Nick Saban knows no bounds. He is in the conversation for the best coach ever.
However, the Tide’s play Thursday in the Superdome was hot garbage on a cold night. Considering Saban was just given a monstrous raise, the timing was pretty bad for below average play.
Normally I write off non-title bowl losses. Bowl games that are not for crystal trophies are nothing more than fun trips for the fans and players that equate to no big deal.
But Alabama was playing Big 12 loudmouth Bob Stoops and company. This game had tons of conference pride tied in to it.
Stoops has been shouting about the SEC being overrated for years now. Thursday was the night to shut his pie-hole.
Instead, Alabama’s defense apparently left its wits back in Biloxi as a freshman quarterback ate them alive.
It wasn’t just a poorly coached and played defensive game, though. No, this catastrophe was a team effort in futility. The offensive play calling was mind-boggling and there was a huge penalty on a fantastic punt return, too.
Even when a player began to perform well it raised questions.
Where in the name of Wally Pipp was Derrick Henry all season? Granted, I said he’d be converted to a linebacker post-haste when ‘Bama signed him, but I don’t get to see him practice every day. That kid is phenomenal! (FYI, Henry had ZERO carries against Auburn even though backup Kenyon Drake was held out of the second half. BRILLIANT!)
You don’t need a Bourbon Street fortune teller to deduce Alabama needs some serious personnel and coaching shake ups. The Tide needs more speed off of the defensive end position.
Cyrus Kouandjio, who was rightfully named to several All American lists just a few weeks ago, was more like Cyrus “WhodoIblocktho.” The defensive backfield was lacking leadership ever since Vinnie Sunseri was injured.
When all units collectively play below par at the same time, that is on the coaching staff, isn’t it?
I am not trying to pick on Kouandjio, either. That kid has been fantastic in most games throughout his career. He is a really good player who had a really bad night.
Maybe he needed some help from a tight end or H-back, right? That’s an adjustment made by the coaches.
Don’t get my stance twisted, because I am definitely not turning on Nick Saban. The man is still the best in the business. Vince Lombardi, Bobby Bowden and even The Bear were all out-coached at one point or another in their careers.
But for $7 million a year, I think Saban deserves a lot of heat to make the right moves this offseason. It comes with the territory. I doubt even Nick Saban would dispute that fact.
Hey, if I am coming off as too hard on Saban it is only because he made me that way.
Heck, he demands the ‘Bama faithful be this way. It’s part of The Process.
Besides, there is no need for panic in Tuscaloosa. This staff deserves a lot of leeway for all it has done for the program and fan base. I am just not automatically putting Alabama in my national championship bracket for next year anymore.
Maybe removing the assumption of eventual greatness is the motivation the program needs.
This team seemed to lack the hunger of the past few years. My bet is Saban finds a way to re-energize the desire to win.
Until the Tide has a chance to prove itself again, though, it is going to be an off season filled with questions and concerns.
Robinson is a sports columnist for The Outlook.