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Thursday Thoughts on the Crimson Tide

This week’s thoughts are all on perceptions and dealing with people’s feelings on things.

Thursday Thoughts on the Crimson Tide

By: Larry Burton

How would Alabama deal with a gay player? I mean, this IS Alabama’s team and this area isn’t known for its politically correct or liberal views on things. One former player was asked that question and his answer was surprising. “How do you know we haven’t already had one?

I’d like to think that if Alabama had one and the player chose to keep it quiet, that the team would too. But if he came forward, how would the team and most of all the fans handle it? I believe whatever Nick Saban said on the subject would set the tone for the players and should set the tone for the fans. But would it?

In the years since I first met Nick Saban, I’ve come to guess pretty well what he will say on certain topics and on this one I believe he’d say something like, “I’m only concerned on how he chooses to play football in every workout, practice and game, not who he chooses to date. He’s a member on this team and I don’t get involved in any of the men’s personal lives on this team, who they date, how many relationships they have going or any of that. I only care about things that affect their studies, playing ability and willingness to keep to the process. You’ve never asked me about any other players dating partners and I don’t intend on starting to answer any more questions about any players personal relationships, aright?”

Personally, I’d rather have a gay that a rapist, personally, I’d rather have a gay than a thief, personally, I’d rather have a good gay player than a straight average player, in other words, at 57 years old and married for 25 years to the same woman, I’m too old to care anymore about what other people think about a team member on Alabama’s roster. I’m an Alabama fan no matter what.

I’d like to think that’s how the press would handle it, but apparently they wouldn’t. This week ESPN reported on Sports Center on the NFL’s St. Louis Rams showering practices after the games and practices, (now that they have an openly gay player). No player, not one, has come out and said one negative word about Michael Sam, the gay player and the only public comments have been in the “he’s just one of the guys” comments. In fact, this week one player tweeted:

Dear ESPN, Everyone but you is over it.

12:14 PM – 26 Aug 2014
Maybe Michael Sam is breaking more ground than he knows and the next guy won’t have to have such things asked about him and teams won’t have to stick up for a team mate as Long has had to do. For those who think that this will never happen at Alabama, that day is coming, it’s just that no one knows when. I hope by then the fan base will handle it in a manner that will not take away from what’s really important.
If you don’t know what’s important, I’ll spell it out as Coach Bryant once did, “You play with class, you win with class and you lose with class, because this is Alabama.”
For the second thought of the week, my final word on the quarterback battle. Both quarterbacks will play against West Virginia, who takes the first snap is not important, who takes the first snap of the next game and the one after that is. Nick Saban is a very smart man, he is choosing to let everyone see that the man who wins in the job is the best man and I think that man is Coker, the man with the highest ceiling and talent. But Saban has to make the outcome obvious and let it play out rather than going on his own judgement, well actually Saban doesn’t have to, but he chose to.
Saban could have just named a starter and went with it and could have cared less about fans or press who would have said, “If Sims had had a fair shake, he would have beat out Coker.” But he does care that the team feels Sims had a shot, a real shot and the best man won. Sims may take the first snap just so he will go into the history books as a “Starting Quarterback at Alabama”. Sims has earned that, but though I’ve never interviewed Blake Sims, I do know that he wants the best QB on the field and so will every man on the team.
That’s just the way it should be and I admire Saban for letting it all play out that way.
Now for the last thought of the week. Here we are at the beginning of a new season, right now every team in the major conferences are undefeated and filled with hope. For those of us in the media, it’s the season of more analysis and more work, but it’s what we live for as much as the casual fan.
Every season a new “Cinderella” emerges. Last season it was Auburn, who was more like a phoenix than a War Eagle, for rising from the ashes and depth of the SEC cellar to the top of the heap in the SEC and giving Florida State all it could handle in the national championship game. Maybe the fun each season is the irreverent “Larry’s Losers in the SEC” column, but as fun as it is to write, there is much work that goes into it and it got me thinking about who would/could be the SEC’s “Cinderalla” this season.
If he can stay healthy, Jeff Driskel is a talent just waiting to explode and if the offense gets going in Florida behind him with the great defense they already have, they could make a serious big to go all the way in the East. We’ll see soon enough if Driskel is the real deal or not this season, but I really pay attention to the results, performance and comments that come out of the Manning Passing Academy in Louisiana each off season and Driskel lit it up down there and showed those folks just what he can do so if Florida falters just a bit, the real “Cinderella” could be Jeff Driskel himself.
Jeff Driskel may have a lot to smile about this season.

Jeff Driskel may have a lot to smile about this season.

Years ago, a quarterback who in all fairness just had average talent, South Carolina’s Stephen Garcia got hot and helped South Carolina blister Alabama in what was a huge upset loss. Folks, I’ve covered football long enough to know that there is a huge talent difference between Garcia and Driskell and if Driskell has the game of his life, like Garcia did against Alabama, then any team and I mean any, could leave the game a loser.
So not only does Florida get the nod as my “Cinderella” pick, they also get my vote as the team that that everybody better be scared of. They are someone’s trap game and are going to blindside at least two of the teams ranked above them this season. That list includes Alabama, LSU, Missouri, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida State. Who I don’t know, but every one of those teams better bring their A game this season when facing Florida.
That’s it for this week, don’t forget we welcome comments, agreements, disagreements and questions. Don’t forget to share a link on your Facebook page of twitter the link to your followers. We want to build this website and it takes people like you to help us do it. Thanks from all of us at Touchdown Alabama Magazine.

 Larry is an award winning writer whose work has appeared in almost every college football venue. Now he primarily writes for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter

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