Sunday, July 29, 2007

The emperor's new clothes

Nick Saban's pathetic pre-season sideshow soared to new heights this weekend at the Southeastern Conference Media Days in Hoover, Ala.

Frenzied delusional Bama fans, many of them topped in trademark Bear Bryant hound's-tooth hats and shouting out their ridiculous expectations for an undefeated national championship season in 2007, mobbed Saban everywhere he went.

Though he likely won't satisfy the unrealistic dreams of his redneck faithful, at least he came through for the rest of us who have come to expect little more than egotistical chest-thumping and lies practically everytime he opens his mouth in public.

For example, we learned this weekend that Saban never really wanted to leave LSU. He was tricked by the devil himself in the guise of Miami Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga. And he didn't wake from his satanic stupor until he was on a Crimson Tide plane headed for a press conference to announce that he was, indeed, taking the job he had so forcefully denied any interest in.

Here's what some of the reporters at Media Days had to write about Saban :

Right now the coach is perfect, and he is theirs. The obvious question with Saban, and Alabama for that matter, is how long will he be theirs? Alabama has had four coaches this century. And Saban moves around the football world like a hummingbird, drinking from a few feeders, then buzzing away.
-- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Earlier this summer Saban sounded like he was putting some of the blame on the news media for going against his wishes and constantly asking him about the job at Alabama . . . None of that sounded like the man who rebuilt LSU football to powerhouse status with the-buck-stops-here certainty and full accountability. He sounded instead like a man looking anywhere but in the mirror for the direction of his life and for the public perception of the way he left Miami for Tuscaloosa.
-- The (Baton Rouge) Advocate

Players are the key difference between (Florida coach Urban) Meyer and Saban's arrivals. Meyer inherited a talented team from (former Florida coach Ron) Zook and a fertile recruiting base. Saban inherits a team less talented than any he coached at LSU. And while he had talent-rich Louisiana all to himself, he now must share a state that produces fewer prospects with rival Auburn, which has beaten Alabama five consecutive years.
-- The Tampa Tribune

And, finally, we have this gem from Ft. Worth Star-Telegram sports columnist Wendell Barnhouse:

I find Saban to be neither believable nor credible. He's a coach who has been coached on what to say and how to say.
Saban's first comments to the print media were to thank us for our coverage. Then he said the media probably knows more about the Alabama team than he and his staff do.
Don't believe that.
His picture is on the front and back covers of the Alabama media guide. There are no players pictured. Asked about that, he said he "didn't really make that decision."
Don't believe that.
Asked about being a poster boy for rising coaching salaries, he said, "I actually took a pay cut.... I don't think what I do is about money."
Believe the pay-cut statement, don't believe the second half of that statement.

The sad reality of Crimson Tide football is that the dark shadow of The Bear will always linger like a sledgehammer over the head of whomever happens to be filling the head-coaching shoes in Tuscaloosa. Combine that fact with Saban's larger-than-life ego and his penchant for dishonesty, and it becomes clear that the Bama Nation could be headed for one of the most spectacular and expensive letdowns in college football history.

With more humility and integrity, and less program baggage, Saban could be a college football king. In fact, he nearly achieved that status in Louisiana despite his shortcomings.

In Alabama, however, he'll never be more than a pretender to the throne.

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