Sunday, November 25, 2007

Bummed Out in Bama -- Again

I know you're going to ask me, 'What are you going to do about it?' ... And I'm going to tell you right now, I'm not sure. ~ Nick Saban

Coach Saban was coaching the Dolphins when he said that, but I suspect at some point he will be saying the same thing about the horrid finish of the Crimson Tide. Unlike Alabama, I finished on a high note, picking Auburn (albeit reluctantly there at the end) to win the Iron Bowl. The question is, "How broken is Bama?" The answer is probably, "Not very." After all, they played some excellent games, but they also played some stinkers. Ironically, they played their worst games after playing their best game. The loss to LSU was a good effort by the Tide, despite the ugly finish, but the subsequent losses to Mississippi State and --gasp-- La-Monroe were simply miserable.

And the team did little to redeem itself against Auburn.

I have some suggestions for the coach, not that he would or should care what I think. First, get a real quarterback. John Parker Wilson has the happiest feet this side of Gene Kelly and makes the worst decisions this side of anyone named Bush. Obviously, the Tide doesn't have anyone better, or Coach Saban would have played him. One thing about college football is that coaches will switch quarterbacks at the drop of a helmet. Some teams even have regular rotations, and it seems to work just fine. So one can presume that if the coach had had someone else, he would have used him.

I suspect there will someone backing up Wilson next year who will be able to actually play.

Second, it appears that the Mike Shula malaise infected the Bama players pretty thoroughly, because this was a team that flat gave up. The Iron Bowl was not pretty, but Auburn was clearly the team out there that thought it could win. Alabama players just never seemed to have the intensity -- except for the odd personal foul to help out Auburn. Saban started a couple of freshmen on the offensive line; expect a lot of freshmen and sophomores to be playing next year.

Finally, Coach Saban needs to avoid the Charlie Weis disease. Weiss has forgotten how to teach players. Worse he's surrounded himself with NFL-type assistants who also don't understand that these guys they're coaching don't know all the stuff their professional players did. Saban wasn't gone from the college ranks long, but, given the disciplinary lapses and the general inability to execute fundamentals displayed by Alabama this year, it appears that the coach was expecting more maturity on the part of the players.

Sorry, Coach, but you've got to be the stern parental figure again.

I can't leave the subject of college football with a passing reference to the coaching carousel. To no one's surprise, Ed Orgeron was handed his walking papers. It's hard to imagine who would actually want the Ole Miss job given how badly Orgeron mangled an already down program. And look for Les Miles to turn up in Michigan. He's used up all the Saban recruits at the skill positions, so he's now either got to prove he can recruit or head for Michigan to use Les Carr's recruits for a few years. Given his demonstrated ability to make dopey game decisions, Miles would be welcome in Michigan -- by Ohio State fans.

And then there's that A&M vacancy hanging over the heads of Auburn fans. Tommy Tuberville has most recently said that he and his assistants will stay at Auburn as long as they're wanted, which would normally constitute a denial-denial, except that there are those amongst the trustees who don't want him or his assistants. His upcoming meeting with the brass at Auburn should be interesting. My guess is that he'll stay, but he won't be getting any further extensions if he doesn't improve on this year's performance.

Oh, and let us not forget Bobby Petrino. The whole Falcons thing has turned into a nightmare, very little of which is due to Petrino. I suspect that every major opening over the next couple of months will have a Petrino angle to it.

Which would be perfectly normal, wouldn't it?

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