by Travis Normand
During his September 4, 2012, press conference Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban went off on the media (see video above). This is nothing new for Coach Saban and members of the media cannot be shocked.
As for the substance of Saban’s comments, I am not sure he was wrong.
Nick Saban is trying to win another BCS National Title this season–which would be his first back-to-back title. Saban won the BCS Title in 2003 as the Head Coach of LSU, and then in 2009 and 2011 at Alabama.
Saban is too familiar with playing smaller teams like Western Kentucky (WKU) at home and knows that they can cause problems. In 2007, the Crimson Tide lost to UL-Monroe at home by a score of 14-21. While the 2007 Alabama football team is nowhere near as talented as the 2012 squad, the fact remains that Saban has to keep his players focused on the current opponent if they want to win back-to-back titles.
Saban also remembers the 2008 season when the Tide rolled into the SEC championship game undefeated. The 2008 squad was very talented but still lost the championship to the Florida Gators by a score of 20-31. To make matters worse, the Tide lost their next game (the Sugar Bowl against Utah) by a slightly wider margin than the SEC title game–17-31.
Prior to the Sugar Bowl everyone said that Utah didn’t stand a chance. After the Sugar Bowl they said Alabama must not have cared enough to play the game, due to the fact that they had lost the SEC championship. Either way, Saban knows that winning is all about staying focused on your current opponent.
Saban finally got his BCS Title in 2009, but couldn’t follow it up with a second in 2010. During the 2010 season, Alabama (defending national champions) played South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina. Having defeated Florida the week before, the number one topic of discussion was whether or not the Tide could repeat as national champs. Unable to focus on the task at hand, Alabama lost to the Gamecocks 21-35, and did not repeat as national champs that season.
The 2011 season provided Saban the chance to show his players that just because you win the championship in one year (2009) doesn’t mean you will win it again the next (2010). In order to win back-to-back titles, you have to focus and respect every single opponent on the schedule and you can not get caught looking ahead.
Heading into the November 5 game against LSU in 2011, almost everyone in the country was content with saying that Alabama and LSU were probably the two best teams. The good news for Alabama was that the game was at home, and thus one would think that Alabama had the edge. LSU ended up winning the game 9-6.
Fortunately for Alabama, they got a re-match with LSU in the BCS National Title game which they won, and claimed Nick Saban’s second title (while at Alabama).
Now, Saban is trying once again to repeat as national champions and he remembers the recent history that says doing so is fairly impossible. It is for this reason that he doesn’t want to see anyone (not even the media) writing about how great the Tide football team is (at least not until he has the crystal ball in his hands).
Coach Saban said it best when he said, that’s why we play the games.