I sat down at my computer last night to write this piece (of shit) but refrained from typing more than a paragraph. I was full of anger. But was it anger? No, I was full of jealousy. I received this jealousy by watching a team full of heart and desire get beaten by a team of superhuman androids. Louisiana State University has a football team that is full of men that could all wrestle against live bears and win. It is a team that when it faces all adversity, turnovers, penalties, and ball bounces go against it, it still wins. That’s what happened.
Alabama was beaten hands down. There was no running game, there was no short passing game. Alabama’s offense consisted of big plays that were explosive. Alabama’s defense, played as well as it could but could not stop LSU on two possessions that began inside its ten yard-line. Why was I jealous?
For years, I’ve viewed many football games with Alabama and I think that the majority of big games that have championship ramifications, Alabama has lost more than it has won. Alabama has lost to Auburn and Tennessee more than it has beaten them. But if you go back twenty-five years (before) I was roaming the earth, the University of Alabama fielded teams of great stature and athleticism, teams like LSU. I’m jealous of LSU fans who get to enjoy their team beat up on weaker, smaller opponents. I’m jealous of Auburn fans who get to enjoy six consecutive wins (about to be seven) over their in state rivals. I’m jealous of Tennessee fans that get to enjoy Rocky Top forty-five times a game in Bryant Denny Stadium. What happened twenty-five years ago to make Alabama football so irrelevant? (Okay there was one national championship but that is a minor blip on the radar when the last twenty-five years are viewed in the aggregate.)
Poor management happened. Egos in administration happened. Cheating happened. Paul Bryant probably paid some players in his days, but it was not uncommon for that to happen. When the NCAA began to issue serious punishment to violators, Alabama and the football program did not adjust. Those terrible and idiotic things bring us to present day, 6-3 in Nick Lou Saban’s first season. It’s not a bad record, but it’s not impressive considering victories over Western Carolina, Houston, and Ole Miss are nothing to write home about. (It’s also worth noting that Ole Miss should have beaten Alabama and Houston almost did). Is this coach Saban’s fault? No. Now, I’ve been negative and cynical up until this point to say this: things are changing.
Gone are the days of moral victories (A phrase that mediocre coaches use to hide the fact that they cannot coach). Last night, Nick Lou Saban told the press that he was unhappy with losing. Really, me too. But what’s impressive is that some coaches see the opportunity to make excuses (Mike Dubose, Mike Shula, Bill Curry, et cetera) and Nick said it was his fault and he had to get the team more prepared. He could have easily blamed the referees, John Parker Wilson, Keith Brown, ____________ (insert and offensive lineman’s name). He didn’t. It’s his fault. But in all reality it’s not his fault. It’s twenty-five years of paying players, half-assed coaching, and an uncaring administration.
Bama is not back, and I don’t know if Bama will ever be back, but I feel better about this program after a seven-point loss to LSU than I did a year ago with a fourteen-point loss. There’s leadership on Bryant drive, and there are high expectations on the sidelines.