Archived Story

Saban’s smokescreen of hypocrisy

Published 10:28am Friday, April 4, 2014

Back around March 1, the whining started coming out of Tuscaloosa – specifically from head coach Nick Saban – that the hurry-up, no-huddle offense could ultimately create more injuries to the players on the defensive side of the ball.
He spoke of wear and tear and how difficult it would be to prepare players for this type of play.
His proposal was to implement a rule where the offense must wait 10 seconds before then can snap the ball.
There were other issues Saban discussed, but the most important issue was definitely player safety.
Let’s be frank and to the point. Nick Saban was hit directly in the jaw by coaches who have progressed and have embraced the 21st century by changing how the game of college football is played.
Even the ancient Steve Spurrier has turned the corner and figured out that the world is not flat after all. Spurrier even went out of his way to name what Nick Saban was presenting as the “Saban Rule.”
Player safety, huh?  Well, how about this for player safety.
Let’s fast forward to just eight days ago when “Big Bad Bama” attempted to schedule the likes of an Old Dominion in football for 2015.
The Monarchs’ football program is five years old and will play a Conference-USA schedule in 2014. They will officially join the conference in 2015.
Old Dominion decided to turn down the $1 million for the game in Tuscaloosa. They cited their already full non–conference schedule, but most importantly their head coach, Bobby Wilder said, “I don’t think playing a game against Alabama would be an advisable move given the infancy of our program.”
The Monarchs athletic director said when referring to ESPN, “They are constantly trying to move people around in order to set up attractive games to broadcast.”
I may be a bit naive here by asking this question, but who would find this “attractive,” ESPN: the Alabama fans, or Stevie Wonder?
I applaud Old Dominion for telling Alabama to keep their money. Now here is where I have major heartburn with Saban and the football program. You continue to schedule teams that cannot compete with you, but you cry foul when someone runs over and around you because they play hurry-up football.
Your head is on a constant swivel because your opponent is running right by you.
Your response is that the speed of the offense can cause harm to the Bama players by creating fatigue. And yet, you try and schedule teams that are undersized and have much less talent, fewer players overall, and their rosters are not made up of future NFL players.
These players run the risk of the same type of injuries – or even worse – when they line up for 60 minutes against a team like Alabama.
You schedule Georgia State, Chattanooga and Western Carolina, along with the entire SunBelt Conference, but your season ticket holders must pay huge fees just to have the opportunity to remain season ticket holders.
And that large sum of money goes to something the university refers to as “Tide Pride.”
How much “pride” does your fan base have when they sell off their games that amount to nothing more than a beatdown?
You use the lame excuse that your SEC schedule is so demanding that you must schedule some teams that will give your players some rest and recuperation.
There are 125 FBS schools and you schedule Western Carolina? You pulled this trick a few years ago when you scheduled Georgia State. Instead of trying to help out other fledging programs with money and exposure, how about scheduling Troy or UAB? At least that will generate some in-state interest and keep the money within the borders.
Why is LSU scheduling UCLA and Arizona State and Oklahoma? The games are a few years out, but that is a good start to changing the perception of the SEC.
Finally, if Alabama thinks the strength of schedule will not matter with the new playoff selection committee, think again.
The out-of-conference component (strength of schedule) should and WILL matter in 2014.
Rumor has it, that every major conference will be mandated to play nine conference games by 2015.
Until next time …
Meyers is a sports columnist for The Outlook. You can follow him on Twitter at @brucemeyers11.

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