Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Saban Cements Legacy & Alabama's National Title Window
Hands down, Alabama out worked, out coached, out prepared, out played, out executed LSU on Monday night in the Superdome.
Jim McElwain and Kirby Smart called a masterful game on both sides of the ball as Nick Saban cemented his legacy as not only a great football coach (he already was), but now joins the conversation with the likes of a Bear Bryant, Knute Rockne, Bud Wilkinson, Tom Osborne, and a few others as a bona fide coaching legend, with his 3rd National Title in 9 years.
Alot was at stake in this game, as Les Miles seemed to be gaining the upper hand in the rivalry with Saban, the modern day Bo Schemblechler vs Woody Hayes 10 year war. But for now, its Game, Set and Match for Saban, defeating Miles in his own backyard by simply executing the perfect game.
LSU panicked, from its insistence to run some no huddle offense, to consistently trying with epic failure to run the option or its failure to give Jarret Lee a chance. And they had no answer for Alabama's multiple formations and overloads, which if AJ McCarron connects on a wheel route or a deep pass to two wide open receivers, we're looking at an 42-0 beatdown. It was that bad for LSU.
LSU has always hung its hat on being a power running team, followed by play action pass. But they made no attempt to establish this, thinking they could beat Alabama on an option game that by accident, worked its way into the first contest. LSU's game plan should have mirrored Alabama, pass on first followed by runs on 2nd and short. The LSU coaches failed to give their players the best opportunity to win the game, which is something the Tide did.
Any impartial observer who saw the first meeting in Tuscaloosa on November 5th knew that Alabama controlled the game, moved the football and the LSU could not drive the ball on the Tide. Only Alabama's failure in the kicking game made that game close. This time, it was an NCer, NO CONTEST!
So now Alabama has won a second title in three years, and are really just a Tim Tebow 4th quarter rally, a few missed kicks and 3 busted pass coverages from having played for four National Titles in 4 years or even being 54-0 over that time.
If you look over the course of college football in the past 40 years, its littered with great teams that had 5-10 year runs where they had opportunity to win multiple championships and in some cases had success and in others failed.
The 1970's saw Alabama win three national Titles and also saw them drop one title to Notre Dame. That decade helped make Paul Bryant the legend and great coach he was. 1979-1986 saw Penn State play for 4 national titles and win two, helping shape Joe Paterno's identity. 1983-1992 saw Miami rise from nothing to win 4 national titles and and be just a few plays here or there from possibly winning 6-7 in a decade. Florida State had titles in 1993 and 1999, but also lost 3 titles games to Florida in 1996, Tennessee in 1998 and Oklahoma in 2000. Nebraska cashed in on 3 titles in 4 years from 1994-1997, making Tom Osborne the coach he was. USC had a great run in the early part of the decade and now LSU and Alabama are both still seemingly in that window, which changes legacies and cements legends. Alabama and LSU both fall into that window where for the foreseeable future, both may have opportunities to win another title in the next 2-3 years.
On the other hand, teams that have been in position to win multiple titles but failed, like Pittsburgh from 1977-1982, Bob Stoops and Oklahoma 2000-04, Lou Holtz and Notre Dame 1998-1993, Tennessee and Phil Fulmer from 1998-2001, Jim Tressel and Ohio State from 2002-2007, have seemingly left some hardware on the table and are programs that have struggled or can't regain their footing in the national title perspective.
Thats why last night's game was so important to Alabama and LSU. A loss changes the perceptions of the coaches and program, atleast in the short term. Saban may never win another title, but he has 3 in 9 years while Miles is stuck at one. How different would people view these two men and programs if Saban and Miles were tied 2-2 for BCS Titles or LSU had a 3-1 advantage on the Tide the last 9 years instead of 'Bama having two in three years???