Why does a coach more than comfortably ahead with less than three minutes to go off on a tirade over a mistake? Read why it’s great news he does for Bama fans.
Why Saban’s Rants Are Music to Bama Fan’s Ears
By: Larry Burton
Lane Kiffin does a marvelous job at Alabama, but obviously he’s not perfect. So when Alabama is up by 28 points with less than a minute left and Kiffin’s call resulted in a fumble that ended up letting Western Kentucky finally score their only touchdown, the only touchdown given up by the Tide this year, Kiffin got an earful. Not once, but twice, on national television.
Not to make light of Saban’s rant, it wasn’t just that one play or the fact that the defense finally gave up a touchdown, it was simply the straw that broke the camel’s back. Despite being the number one team in the nation in everyone’s polls, despite dispatching a top 20 team in week one in an epic blowout and an 11 win team from last season, there were just too many miscues, unblocked defenders, passes that missed open receivers or even worse, interceptions the first week and dropped passes this week and last. There were big plays given up on defense and Alabama’s running game on Saturday was simply stale and going through the motions, averaging just 3.2 yards a carry. Then there were the penalties, 12 of them in fact, more than some of Saban’s squads have had in half a season. Then were the missed scoring opportunities of one missed but very makable field goal and two dropped touchdown passes, 17 more points that could have been quickly rung up on the scoreboard.
In his press conference, Saban called the play “embarassing” and said there was much work to do. He was clearly still hot everyone in the media room knew it. He was upset about a team that seemed complacent and not being mentally sharp and happy with the status quo, all things which make those blood vessels pop out on his neck.
So why is this a good thing for Alabama? Why should fan delight in hearing this and opponents tremble?
The reason is, this is a team that he knows from all his years of coaching is capable of doing not a little better, but a whole lot better than the performances they’ve turned in so far. He also knows that athletes, like children, try live up to the expectations of their coaches/parents. Saban’s expectations aren’t to win, they’re for the players and team to do their absolute best every play, every game. He won’t have them settling for good enough.
Yes folks, that’s right, the team that beat USC, shut them out of the end zone and beat them by 46 points should have at least beat them by 60 and the 11 win team they beat this past week should have lost by 60 also and should not have been allowed to score a touchdown. This is not coach speak, these are the true sentiments of man who has been in football all his life. He knows, sees, feels and smells just what this team is capable of and it just bugs the absolute crap out of him that they are playing so far beneath their potential.
Yes folks this team that is stomping good quality teams into the dirt should be doing so much more. He’s mad at the coaches for not preparing them better, he’s mad at the players for some half hearted effort but mostly he’s mad at himself for having all pieces to create a jugernaught like no one else in college football could come close to replicating and not having it all put together yet.
And the key word in that last sentence was yet.
Because there’s little doubt with current mood he’s in that everyone will start coming around and when it does get rolling the way he knows it can, then God help the poor souls who line up against them.
There’s an old saying that goes, “When mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy.” And fortunately that’s the mindset of the coaches and players right now too. It’s not just Saban, each person on that team knows they aren’t doing their best, aren’t on the page all the time and know they are capable of so much more. Nobody is happy right now and that’s a great thing too.
After the game, the comments and sentiments of each player interviewed rang the same tone, disappointment. Instead of talking about what was great about another win over a good team, each dwelled on what they needed to do to improve both as players and as a team. Maybe it was because the press interviewed them after they had left a locker room in which Saban lit into them on the hard side and it didn’t take a lot of soul searching for them to know their coach was speaking the truth.
Not only because of the past mistakes this season so far, but because it is Ole Miss week, expect the practice fields at Alabama to be place of intensity this week.
Whether it’s this week or down the road, the Tide will put together their best game and when they do get rolling it will be a happy time for everyone dressed in Crimson and an utter disbelief for folks wearing the wrong colors.
Larry has been published in almost every media outlet for college sports and now primarily writes here for Touchdown Alabama. Follow Larry on Twitter for inside thoughts and game time comments at https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter