In the world of sports, there are often defeats that sting more than others. While no loss is ever easy for any player or coach, when said player or coach believes a win was within reach and squandered, those are the ones that leave a sour taste in ones mouth.
Take for instance Auburn coach Gus Malzahn. While speaking with ESPN’s Chris Low, he reflected on last year’s Iron Bowl matchup with the Alabama Crimson Tide and stated, “We didn’t score touchdowns in the red zone. We should have put 60 on them, and we didn’t,” Malzahn said to ESPN. “That was the most disappointing thing, when you have a chance to do something special and don’t, and then we gave up all those fourth-quarter points. We let them off the hook, but we’ve got them at home this year.”
That was a very similar response Malzahn gave to Low that he gave during this past SEC Media Days when yours truly asked him about that game and how his rival coach Nick Saban was chomping at the bit after taking the foot off the throats of the Tigers in 2010, thus allowing Cam Newton to orchestrate a Heisman like comeback performance to down the Tide in T-Town.
That offseason, Saban plastered signs of “Never Again” all throughout the football complex vowing to avenge the loss Alabama seemingly gave away the year before.
As for Malzahn, it’s clear his emotions have gotten the best of him as the offensive genius he is, surely cannot stomach the thought that a defensive-minded coach such as Saban put a 50-spot (55 to be exact) on his team with a quarterback very few believed would be taking snaps at all at the start of the season.
While 60 points is a bit laughable in its own right, the notion is not exactly out of the realm of possibility as he was correct with the amount of opportunities his team left on the table.
But the bigger picture that must be pointed out is the frequency in which Malzahn is stating these quotes. After I prompted him last month, and the response he gave sounded very much as if he truly believes his team is really good. Not just good, but good enough to avenge their loss against the Tide and make it public they intend to do so.
Make no mistake about it, Malzhan is a very good coach and understands championship football. The man is a legend in Arkansas, and was the man behind the madness in Auburn’s BCS Championship in 2010 in which ousted coach Gene Chizik received credit for.
So, what does all this really mean?
Does Malzhan really believe his team would have put up 60 points on a Nick Saban defense? Or, are these jabs a sign that the coach believes his team is ready to deliver some punishment down on the plains and has the horses to pull it off?
I tend to lean towards the latter on this one. However, Alabama’s coach just so happens to be a four-time national champion and has been known to get his players fired up for big games and more importantly prepared to take on any challenge.
Was the extra bulletin board material necessary? Who knows, maybe that’s the way Gus wants it.