Coach Saban Makes No Excuses
The Sugar Bowl, a Consolation Game for The Tide
If your team won back-to-back National Championships the two previous football seasons, was playing to make history by winning a third, going into the last game of the regular season undefeated and playing a rivalry game, tied up with one second left on the clock only to miss a field goal and lose the game in a fluke play, then I guess you are in a position to judge whether or not the Sugar Bowl was a consolation game for Coach Saban and The Crimson Tide of Alabama.
If your team has never been in that spotlight, then you will never understand. We’ll attempt to explain how Coach Saban could refer to the honor of playing in the Sugar Bowl as a “consolation game” for his team.
Before your lesson starts, take note, Coach Saban did indeed call the Sugar Bowl a “consolation game.” For Alabama fans his comment did not create the slightest stir or reason to pause; not one crimson eyebrow was raised. To them it was as much a fact as if he said, “the sky is blue.”
Understanding Alabama Arrogance
Lesson Number One: NCAA Records
Alabama holds the NCAA Records for:
The most postseason Bowl Appearances, 60
The most bowl victories, 35
The most 10-win seasons, 32
The most 10-game + winning streaks, 23
27 Conference Championships
Alabama holds a winning record against every current and former SEC school, except for SEC newcomer Missouri (2-2)
The most National Championships, 15
Lesson Number Two: Back-To-Back National Championships
While most schools eagerly await their team winning one National Championship, Alabama fans count them in pairs.
Wade Wallace has one: 1925 / 1926
Coach Bryant has two: 1964 / 1965 and 1978 / 1979
Coach Saban has one: 2011 / 2012
Lesson Number Three: The Expectation is Real, High and Real High
In 2007 after Coach Saban turned down Alabama Athletic Director, Mal Moore for the head coaching job at Alabama, Moore turned to his second choice, USC head Coach Steve Spurrier.
Spurrier said he didn’t take the job at Alabama, because they had already won so many National Championships and he wanted to do something no one had done before.
Good Question, so what is left undone at Alabama?
Back-to-Back National Championships, no, they have four of those. What is left undone is the three-peat.
Lesson Number Four: Crystal Ball Book Ends
With the advent of a new playoff system in college football and newly designed trophy, the 2013 National Championship was Alabama’s only chance to add the fifth crystal ball to join the others in their treasure troth. Alabama won the first BCS crystal ball in 1992 and fans wanted to book-end it by winning the final one.
The Sugar Bowl was lost in the Iron Bowl.
Coach Saban made his first run at the history-making three-peat in the 2013 season. Then this happened – The Mother of all Iron Bowls. With the game tied and one second left on the clock Alabama attempted a field goal. Chris Davis returned the missed field goal and ran toward the end zone. For Alabama fans it was as if Davis was holding Saban’s third crystal ball in his clutches in place of a real football. For the fourth time in Alabama football history, the 3-peat eluded The Tide, leaving fans wondering if it will ever happen.
Coach Saban is known for limiting the celebration after every National Championship. He presses the season reset button 24 hours after they win a National Championship to start preparing for the next season. He pressed the reset as soon as he left Jordan-Hare stadium, November 30, with a 34-28 Iron Bowl loss behind him. There was nothing on the line at the Sugar Bowl. Fans were indifferent.
Our Apologies to Boomer Sooner
Sooner beat the Tide, 45-31 in the Sugar Bowl
Coming in with losses to Texas and Baylor, the Oklahoma Sooners showed up and took care of business. Games are won and lost at practice and they probably practiced with great intensity to be playing in the Sugar Bowl and a hunger to have a shot to take down the defending back-to-back national champion Crimson Tide. All season long fans in every stadium across the country every Saturday were chanting and holding up signs, “We Want Bama.” Sorry for the Sooners that Auburn beat them to it.
Getting a shot at the mighty, mighty Tide is a double-edged sword and one that the Auburn Tigers football team carries every year. Alabama held nine opponents to ten points or less with two SEC shutouts. That’s not the team the Sooners got to play.
First World Problems for Alabama
For most college football fans winning a national title is new ground at least in recent history. But for Alabama coaches, players and fans it is expected that their team will be in the hunt every year and it has been this way since the helmets were made of leather. They were about to make history. It all came crashing down. Not too many fan bases can say they’ve been there, because they haven’t and maybe never will.
They say life is a marathon and not a sprint. Maybe a marathon athlete competing in his last chance to break a world record and misses it by one second can understand the level of utter disappointment. How would the runner feel about running in a 10-K race the next week?
It’s a lasso around the heart for Sooner fans to hear that their huge win over the two-time champion Crimson Tide was against a team waiting to start their hunt for the 2014 National Championship. It’s not meant to take anything away from the 2013 Sugar Bowl Champion.
Try to understand, Alabama is not going to put a man on the moon, that’s been done. They’re trying to put a man on Mars.