Freestyle Friday: A Midwinter Night’s Taming of the Shrew

Friends, Romans, countrymen, give me your attention. I have come here to bury the dominance of Nick Saban, not to praise him.

(I know that’s three jumbled Shakespeare references, but I was on a roll.)

“Yeah, we’re not a very good team”, I only half-jokingly told Jarrod, Taylor & Mark as I showed up at halftime of the Auburn-Georgia game with two rolls of toilet paper to congratulate the group of Auburners on the SEC West title, the SEC title, and the BCS title.

It turned out I wasn’t joking at all. Alabama was not a very good team. It was a good team, but not one of the best Alabama teams of the last 5 seasons. I would probably put the 10-3 2010 team over this one, which would, by default, make this the worst team in the last five seasons. Going back a little further, I’d put the 2008 team that puked in the Sugar Bowl to Utah above this team also.

It was a team with a weak, weak secondary that was hamstrung by the season-ending injury to Vinnie Sunseri. Sunseri was the quarterback, the glue, that held the fragile collection of lost cornerbacks and safeties together. The secondary wasn’t done any favors by a defensive line that put almost zero pressure on quarterbacks this season. You can be a very good team without one of those, a strong defensive back corps or a strong defensive line, but you can’t be a very good team without either of them.

On offense, it was a team that lacked identity – a deficiency I place squarely on the coaches. “We do not call a good offensive game”, read the text that I received at 8:30 last night. 100% correct. Our offensive coaches need help – preferably not from Lane Kiffin but, hey, when you’re desperate you’re desperate. They still don’t know whether they want to be a running team or a passing team. I don’t know why, when Derrick Henry is on the verge of taking over the game, a la Eddy Lacy in the 2012 SEC Championship game, he was taken out of the game. I don’t understand why, when Henry was averaging about 15 yards a carry, receivers couldn’t get open. When you’re gashing the defense on every carry, the quarterback and receivers should be playing pitch and catch. The Alabama receivers struggled to get open all year. And don’t even get me started on the way we simply carved OJ Howard and the other tight ends out of the offense.

Four turnovers led to 28 points. Alabama simply made it too easy for Oklahoma. When you’re not a very good team, you have no way of overcoming those types of gifts.

So another season ends. Eleven wins, two losses, champions of nothing. Good enough for a 40% raise for Nick Saban. Somewhere, Bill Curry is shaking his head. For the rest of us, that record and $5 will still get you a great meal at City Cafe but, I guess, it’s always been that way.

It occurs to me that Nick Saban probably makes more in a season – even before the 40% raise and adjustment for inflation – than Bear Bryant made in the entire decade of the 1970s.

On a side note, I did hear a rumor of why a certain running back hasn’t seen the offensive backfield recently. Saban’s doghouse is like a crazy mirror maze except there really is no exit. No man-sized exit anyway. Just a little crack in the back that leads to a transfer station.

That’s all for today. Leah is currently in the bed with the cold shivers and vomiting (wheeeee), so I took a sick day to stay with the kids. School started back today for Jack, but when he countered my “perhaps you’d like to go to school today and save your absence for a day in the spring when the weather is nicer” with “I’m more likely to have tests in the spring, and we’re not going to do anything today. Plus, it seems goofy to start and end the school week on a Friday”, I had no good comeback.

I stayed up until 1:35 last night (this morning) finishing Sycamore Row. I’ll review it next week. Have a great weekend!

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