When it comes to college football, Nick Saban is The Man, and when The Man loses, the expectation is that he will take it like a man. Unfortunately for Saban, that hasn’t always been the case.
Saban has a nasty habit of making excuses when his team drops a game in the postseason.
There was the 2009 Sugar Bowl against Utah, when Saban blamed his team’s loss on a lack of passion from Alabama fans. There was the 2014 Sugar Bowl, in which his team lost to Oklahoma because, as Saban said in an interview with ESPN, his players had to be convinced to “try to play” in what he called a “consolation game” because no championship was at stake. Then there was last year’s Sugar Bowl loss to Ohio State, when a shot to play for a national title was on the line. But still there was an excuse for defeat, according to Saban: Apparently some of his players were distracted during the game because they had gotten their draft grades from the NFL Draft Advisory Committee.
All of this excuse-making has some wondering how Saban would try to explain away another loss if it occurs Thursday night when his team plays Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl.
If the Crimson Tide loses, maybe Saban will blame a preoccupied Kirby Smart by saying his defensive coordinator was too worried about the job he is about to start at UGA, and that Smart wasn’t focused enough on the job he was supposed to finish at Alabama. Or maybe if running back Derrick Henry has a disappointing performance against the Spartans, Saban will accuse the media of overhyping his top star after Henry’s Heisman Trophy-winning season. Or maybe Saban’s reason for defeat will be so diabolical that a lesser mind couldn’t even conceive of it before Saban springs it on the world.
Better yet, how about no excuses at all from Saban this time?
Alabama heads into the College Football Playoff with every advantage imaginable. According to 247sports, Alabama has finished no. 1 in the recruiting class rankings for five consecutive years. Saban also enjoys a seemingly unlimited budget for acquiring and retaining assistant coaches. Smart made $1.5 million this season. Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin is highly paid, as well. He made $680,000. Saban is also recently believed to have given his strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran a huge raise. Cochran was already making $420,000, according to AL.com.
Simply put, with those resources available, Saban and Alabama are supposed to win. If for some reason that doesn’t happen, Saban should just keep quiet. The last thing anyone wants to hear is the coach who has everything talk about how hard he’s got it.
Saban would have his colleagues believe that his team is capable of becoming bored by how frequently it goes to the Sugar Bowl, and his roster is challenged because so many of his players will one day play in the NFL. These are problems that most coaches would love to have.
On the other hand, having to listen to Saban whine if the Crimson Tide comes up short again is a problem that nobody wants.