Category Archives: Nick Saban
There’s no way Georgia is going to lose to Alabama. Period.
I write a column like this just about every week, but I’m pretty much always right. If you don’t believe me, check out the archives or listen to the Podcast in which I’m undefeated in predicting Georgia games this year (including the loss to Auburn).
But this post is a little bit different. Not because Alabama is Alabama (though Bama is Bama) and not because the Georgia Bulldogs are new to this position. This post is different because I’m not relying on hot takes, hatred or even math to get my point across. This post is about common sense.
Georgia is going to beat Alabama, and my reasoning comes down to plain, simple, abundantly-clear truths.
The Georgia Bulldogs will not lose to the Alabama Crimson Tide, because you don’t get beat up by your little brother and Bama is UGA’s little brother.
Let’s look at the facts.
Nick Saban can’t win the big one without Kirby Smart.
Think I’m kidding? Ask yourself why Alabama lost the National Championship Game last year. It certainly wasn’t because of the offense. It wasn’t because Steve Sarkisian was placed in a
booze-booze lose-lose situation on short notice. No, the unceremonious early dismissal of Lane Kiffin, one of the most brilliant minds and one of the most revered people in all of sports, was nothing more than a distraction by Nick Saban. Admittedly, it was a flawlessly executed distraction, but it was nothing more than a distraction nonetheless. You see, by convincing the mainstream media and fans alike to wonder, “What if Lane Kiffin wasn’t already on his way to FAU?” Saban was able to disguise the fact that Alabama couldn’t stop Clemson’s offense—not without Kirby Smart.
The reality is this: Nick Saban hasn’t stopped an opposing offense in a big game since Kirby Smart left. Seriously, when was the last time a Saban-coached team stopped anybody in a national championship game without Kirby Smart? I’ll give you the answer. It was back in 2003. And want to know a secret? Saban wasn’t coaching Alabama in 2003.
The reality is that Alabama has never won an undisputed National Championship without Kirby Smart—at least not during the BCS or Playoff eras. And that’s staggering because Alabama wins “national championships” even when they don’t win National Championships. Not following? Sit tight.
Alabama football is a fraudulent excuse for a national power.
Alabama claims 16 National Championships. The NCAA says Alabama has won 14. The Associated Press gives Alabama credit for 10. What gives?
Well, here’s an example. In 1973 Notre Dame won the AP, FWAA and NFF National Championships with a perfect 11-0 record. The Fighting Irish handed Alabama its lone loss that season in the Sugar Bowl. But sure…Alabama won that national championship…according to Alabama.
That’s not an isolated incident. It’s not even the most ridiculously fake national title Bama has “won.” In 1941, Alabama was 9-2 and finished ranked 20th in the AP Poll and 3rd in the Southeastern Conference. The undefeated Minnesota Gophers claimed the AP and Consensus title, but Alabama says they won it. Alabama lost to Vanderbilt that year.
There are half a dozen questionable Alabama “national championships,” because Alabama was the original inventor of Fake News. Alabama created the Participation Trophy Generation. Bear Bryant was the very first millennial, wandering around his parents’ basement begging for trophies and believing his own alternate realities.
Alabama paved the way for the ridiculousness we’re seeing at UCF.
But Alabama had to do all that in order to stay relevant. Why? Well, because Alabama kind of sucks.
Alabama kind of sucks.
A class action suit should be filed against the State of Alabama for false advertising and deceptive marketing. “Alabama the Beautiful” my ass. You ever been there? “Alabama is beautiful” is the greatest lie the devil ever told.
Truthfully, there are very few things the state does well other than advance negative southern stereotypes, but this post isn’t about personal attacks. It’s about how desperately people want out of Alabama’s football program.
Want to know why Georgia fired Mark Richt 25 months ago? Ultimately, because working for the University of Alabama is such a miserable experience.
- Kirby Smart hated doing all of Nick Saban’s work for him and getting no credit so he wanted out.
- He wanted out so badly that he considered taking a job working for the University of South Carolina. Seriously. He wanted to work at South Carolina more than he wanted to work at Alabama.
- Georgia wanted to rescue Kirby Smart, an alumnus, from the clutches of Alabama and a life in Columbia, South Carolina.
- Georgia graciously fired a longstanding, respected, winning coach (Mark Richt) in order to take in a would-be orphan (Kirby Smart).
The narrative that Georgia hired Kirby Smart in order to build Alabama-lite is the hottest take in the history of hot takes. It’s also flat-out wrong. Georgia didn’t fire Mark Richt (a coach who went 145-51 from 2001-2015) so that the program could be more like Alabama (which went 127-50 over the same time period given vacated wins and NCAA adjustments for cheating).
No, Georgia hired Kirby Smart because even the prodigal son must eventually come home to a fattened calf. You see, everyone wants out of Alabama.
Alabama is Georgia’s little brother.
In addition to Kirby Smart, a number of other assistants (guys like Mel Tucker and Glenn Schumann) came to Georgia from Alabama. They didn’t come to create another Alabama. They didn’t come to imitate Saban’s staff. That’s a stupid, false narrative. That’s like saying Jake Fromm came to Georgia because he wanted to create another Houston County High School or saying Justin Fields signed with the Bulldogs because he wanted to replicate Harrison High School in Athens.
That’s broken logic.
Kirby and the handful of hand-plucked assistants left Alabama for Georgia because they graduated. They were called up. They were ready for The Show. They were tired of the minor leagues. They were ready to compete at the top level possible.
That’s not a slight towards Alabama; it’s just a part of life. Similarly, it’s not an attack on Georgia when elite an prospect (like, say, Matthew Stafford) leaves the University to become the NFL’s top overall pick; it’s just the logical progression. Alabama fans won’t be able to relate to that example unless they were alive in 1948 when the last Bama player was selected first over all in the draft, but you get the idea.
At some point you leave your playful beginnings behind and get serious. That’s what Smart et. al. did when they came to Georgia.
And in fairness, they didn’t do this on their own. A slew of players, most notably Jake Fromm, also followed suit. Fromm was, after all, a longtime Alabama commit before he realized that he too might have a chance at playing for the University of Georgia. More recently, Georgia signed 12 4-star recruits (two more than Alabama) and six times as many 5-star recruits as the Crimson Tide during college football’s inaugural Early Signing Day.
Georgia is providing more opportunities than ever for football players, coaches and fans to transcend above and beyond Alabama football. Big brother is open for business, and suddenly little brother sulking in the corner.
Georgia is better at football than Alabama.
Ultimately, Georgia is the better football team in this game. This feels like something of a moot point given everything above, but the Bulldogs are better than the Crimson Tide.
Georgia has a better record (13-1) than Alabama (12-1), more accolades (ever heard of an SEC Championship, Bama?) and better head-to-head performances.
- Auburn: Alabama went 0-1 against Auburn this season with a 26-14 loss to the Tigers. Georgia went 1-1 against Auburn, most recently beating the Tigers 28-7 in the SEC Championship Game. Advantage: Georgia
- Mississippi State: Both Georgia and Alabama defeated Mississippi State. Georgia won 31-3 and Alabama won 31-24. Advantage: Georgia
- Tennessee: Both Georgia and Alabama defeated Tennessee as well. Georgia won by 41 points, Alabama won by 38. Advantage: Georgia.
- Vanderbilt: Both Georgia and Alabama defeated Vanderbilt. Alabama won by a score of 59-0 and Georgia won 45-14. Advantage: Alabama.
The Bulldogs have out-performed Alabama against three of four common opponents.
Even on an individual level, Georgia is the better team.
- Jake Fromm has thrown for more yards than Jalen Hurts while also completing a higher percentage of passes, gaining more yards per attempt and tossing 35% more touchdowns.
- Georgia has two different thousand-yard rushers (Nick Chubb and Sony Michel) and a third back with more than 600 rushing yards (D’Andre Swift). Alabama has no thousand-yard rushers and only two players (Hurts and Damien Harris) who have run for more than 600 yards.
- The Bulldogs have three receivers with more than 300 receiving yards (Javon Wims, Terry Godwin and Mecole Hardman) while the Crimson Tide has one (Calvin Ridley).
- Georgia’s leading tackler (Roquan Smith) has more tackles than Bama’s leader in tackles (Ronnie Harrison).
- Georgia’s D’Andre Walker has more tackles for loss (13.5) than Alabama’s leader in the category (Rashaan Evans).
- Dominick Sanders has more interceptions for Georgia than any player has for Alabama.
- Three Bulldogs (Lorenzo Carter, J.R. Reed and Roquan Smith) have individually recovered more fumble recoveries than any single Alabama player.
- Cameron Nizialek is a better punter than Alabama’s JK Scott in terms of yards per punt, fair catch percentage, percentage inside the 20 and percentage of punts greater than 50 yards. He’s also not been blocked this year (unlike Scott).
- Rodrigo Blankenship wins the kicking battle for Georgia too. He’s got a higher field goal percentage, longer season-long make and has made more kicks from 40+ yards than Alabama’s Andy Pappanastos.
- As measured by average return distance, Mecole Hardman is a better kick and punt returner than anyone Alabama has.
Ultimately, however, this game isn’t about wins and losses—at least not for Alabama and Georgia. For Alabama this a truly unique opportunity to prove once and for all that the program is tall enough to enjoy this ride.
For Georgia, this game offers a rare opportunity to beat the living hell out of its little brother.
Mom and dad are out of the house and he’s been driving you nuts all week, Kirby. Go ahead. Finish him. Pile drive that little guy right through the coffee table. You know you want to. You know you can. You know you should. Don’t let little brother disrespect you again.
That’s all I got/
Let’s go into a time capsule. The 2018 SEC regular season has just wrapped up, the current cycle of ‘new’ head coaches in the league have either established themselves or failed miserably, and there’ll be one name on the market that exceeds all others: 44-year old FAU head coach Lane Kiffin.
Kiffin, in southern Florida head coaching purgatory, has led the Owls to…something better than their 3-9 records of 2014-16, and has overachieved in recruiting even while going against Butch Davis, Charlie Strong, and Scott Frost for third-tier Florida recruits. Having spent three years in the Nick Saban school for coaches who can’t coach good and want to learn to do other stuff good too, he’s got the stink of failed stints in Oakland, Knoxville, and Los Angeles pretty much worn off, and will be sold to an SEC fanbase with a write-up stating something like the following:
Kiffin, 44, has matured from early failed coaching opportunities, as he rehabilitated his image leading Alabama’s offense to heights unseen under Nick Saban. At FAU, he has gone 15-11 with a Bahamas Bowl victory and an average recruiting class ranking in the 60’s, unheard of for the Owls.
This is a home run hire for (insert SEC team) no doubt, as he is young, experienced, a dynamic recruiter, and an offensive genius. Expect (insert SEC team) to see immediate results in recruiting and become a more compelling team on the field from day 1.
The fun part of this thought exercise? Its feasible that he could end up at literally ANY SEC program. Hires of Will Muschamp (twice), Jim McIlwain, and Kirby Smart are obvious indications that ANY ties to Alabama are worth their weight in Nick Saban-bronze statues to SEC AD’s.
Auburn (4:1): Leading off with the most obnoxious little brother-syndrome fanbase seems an obvious pick, and this timeline works perfectly. Gus Malzahn bought himself another year with a resurgent two months in 2016– but has no quarterbacks in the pipeline, so patience should be running pretty thin by this time next year. A slow start in 2018 and he’s toast.
In Kiffin, Auburn is tangentially, but not directly, tied to Saban after Kiffin’s departure. The hype around his ability to find a QB and playmakers will resonate on the plains, and Prince Lane returns to Alabama to restore the glory of the Auburn Tigers.
Ole Miss (5:1): Hugh Freeze may not survive this offseason, and that’s the only justification I have for putting the odds that low. Shea Patterson is on a three-year plan to leave Oxford (not gonna happen) and Kiffin will be seen as the savior who can right Patterson’s career. And the NCAA mess Freeze will inevitably leave behind.
LSU (8:1): Coach O has a low buyout, no quarterback, and no success as a full-time head coach.
I’d say his leash is about two years.
Kiffin fulfills his destiny, after being rumored to be O’s choice for OC this offseason.
Florida (10:1): Bolstered, no doubt, by his presence in the state, Kiffin will steal one under-the-radar recruit from the Gators and make him his offensive bellcow– putting up 90 catches for 1,400 yards in 2018 while Florida’s offense continues to be among the worst in the country.
Even on the heels of back-to-back SEC East titles, McIlwain has done nothing to show he’s a long-term fit in Gainesville. He was linked to the Oregon job this offseason, and seems savvy enough to pull the “I’m gonna be fired in a year, so let me get a new contract now” move of Houston Nutt and others before him.
McIlwain was an offensive hire, but the Gators have maintained their strong defenses from the Muschamp era…and the offense is still broken.
Kiffin with Florida talent! Unbelievable hire!
Arkansas (13:1): My thought is that, after two years of success at FAU, this won’t be sexy enough for Lane. If he peels back the curtains for a minute though, he’ll see that there is no sexier job in CFB. His two predecessors:
- Bobby Petrino, motorcycle accident with a young staffer. (8/10 sexy rating)
- Bret Bieliema, of “borderline erotic” fame. (8/10 sexy rating)
Bieliema has low-key sucked at Arkansas, overall, and his window to break through is probably the best fit for this timeline.
Alabama (15:1): Someday sooner than we realize, Nick Saban will retire or move on. Why not after his fourth-straight national championship? Steve Sarkisian will still have too many alcohol-related red flags to make the jump. Jeremy Pruitt is too unstable a human.
Why not keep Saban’s coordinators in place and rehire his right-hand man?
Georgia (25:1): (*note: this won’t happen with Greg McGarity at AD, and they likely won’t fire a “Georgia man” after three years, but say Kirby Smart is .500 after three years and Mark Richt has at least one ACC Coastal title*)
Yeah, it doesn’t sound so bad anymore, does it?
Georgia has the pro-style personnel in place to take immediate strides, and Smart’s recruiting will lend itself to an immediate turnaround to eke out another 2-3 wins based on talent and decent coaching alone.
RIP, “Kirby Dumb” memes.
South Carolina (30:1): A retread hire at South Carolina? Surely you jest. Lou Holtz, Steve Spurrier, and Will Muschamp have all found varying degrees of success doing just this, and I’m hedging on Coach Boom riding Jake Bentley and the young Cocks to two excellent seasons before he takes a better job (not gonna happen, but 30:1 seems safe).
Or, Boom flames out, or has a heart attack on the field, or something.
Off the board, but let’s try it:
Tennessee: Please god, yes.
Vanderbilt: For the complete opposite reason of above, please.
Mississippi State: Arkansas’ lack of sexy combined with an even less sexy history and Starkville.
Kentucky/Missouri: probably should’ve attached odds to both, but honestly forgot about these programs. Not a high enough ceiling for Lane, anyway.
Texas A&M: Tom Herman year 1 hysteria forces Kevin Sumlin out after 2017, Kiffin campaigns but does not get it.
Dude Emeritus here, back from the dead to grow some whiskers.
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And as you can tell by this video, I’ve been really working over-time on that beard.
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And, because Chad is horrible at deadlines, we should mention he is running a similar campaign in via his real estate business.
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His selfie game is not nearly as strong, but his beard game is electric. Watch out for this one, folks.
(Shouldn’t Lead with this Headline, but I Got My Morning Chubb)
Let’s get the important thing out of the way: Nick Chubb might be Jesus. Modern medicine has come a great ways as it relates to devastating knee injuries in sports, but Chubb’s was worse than those.
Since his training videos leaked in the spring, there’s been a sneaking, optimistic suspicion that Chubb was going to defy the odds and suit up in (!!!) less than a month against UNC. Seeing it actually happen and become a certainty? Amazing. And it gives Georgia a little more flexibility to start Jacob Eason with Chubb as a safety net.
Certainly, there’s still the issue of seeing how the knee holds up against contact, and the ‘yips’ of returning from a major injury.
15 carries for about 110 and two scores sounds about right.
News broke around 6pm that Auburn had dismissed presumptive starting RB Jovon Robinson. Their depth chart is worse than a Chubb-and-Michel-less Georgia’s now, as Peyton Barber went pro early (that was news to me) and Roc Thomas transferred out.
More shocking and impactful than that, though, was the pair at Missouri. Its no secret that Mizzou’s success has been almost exclusively due to ridiculous defensive lines. Walter Brady led FBS freshmen in sacks last year with 8, and Harold Brantley went from feel-good story to cautionary tale. Brantley was severely injured in a car accident coming off a promising sophomore season, and Mizzou was banking on both as starters.
If the D can’t hold teams under…like…8 points, its gonna be a long season for the Zoo.
Let’s Hope Kirby Doesn’t Bring This Sabanism to Georgia
Just deplorable. Old petty man with a Napoleon complex.
Give It A Rest, Dude
The greatest honor of my life is that I am a recipient and instrument of the Gospel. It is here meaning comes, what grace alone can do-Tripp
— Hugh Freeze (@CoachHughFreeze) August 4, 2016
/hashtag wanking motion/
In January of 2002 I was playing in the city middle school basketball championship. After a long season of hard-fought city-wide competition with the only other middle school team in town, my Robertsville Rams were positioned to finish first in all of Oak Ridge if we could take down the Jefferson Eagles.
This was a huge game and the outcome was up in the air until the fourth quarter. Then Dude shut things down. Absolutely electric performance from me. Something like 30 points in the fourth quarter. Or maybe it was like eight. I can’t really remember. What I do remember about that flurry of 12-foot jump shots and finger-roll layups is that the high school coach took notice. He said something to my sister in class the following Monday—probably asked her if she could get him an autograph. But at the time it seemed like a big deal to me.
That’s what Sunday morning is going to be like for the luckiest of lucky Alabama coaches.
You see, the biggest question surrounding the SEC Championship on Saturday is not whether or not Alabama can win or to what degree the Crimson Tide rolls.
The real question is this: Who’s going to coach well enough to get called up from adorable little Alabama football program to the big leagues at the University of Georgia?
Conventional wisdom says Kirby Smart is in. Presumable the announcement is being held off so as to avoid distraction. But I can’t help but wonder if the formal announcement has been delayed because the higher-ups in Athens wonder if he’s really good enough.
And this, unfortunately, could create some unseemly sights for Florida fans. After all, every single Alabama coach (maybe even Saban) is going to be coaching his tail off for an opportunity to walk the sideline Between the Hedges.
You better believe every Alabama touchdown is going to be followed by a frantic Lane Kiffin looking nervously over his shoulder and covering his mouth with a play-card as he wonders allowed, “Did Greg McGarity see that? Please tell me he saw that. Think I should do it again? Of course I should do it again. Come on, Lane. You got this. Who’s the Lane? You’re the Lane. Go. Go. Go.”
Billy Napier’s pregame speech is likely going to be something along the lines of, “Guys. I have a real shot to be something. If things go right today, I might get to coach a real football team next fall. This moment is bigger than all of us. So all I can ask is that you go out there and win this one for me. Help me help myself.”
Strength coach Scott Cochran will be pacing the sideline barking motivation as if he’s already a Bulldog. “You’re strong! You. Are. Strong. Not Georgia strong. But you are strong nonetheless. Remember that! Strong! Muscles! Strength! Strong! GEOOOORGIA!”
And that’s the beauty of what Georgia has created in Alabama, it’s de facto junior college feeder school. Georgia’s going to find out real quickly on Saturday who turns pressure into diamonds and who turns pressure into burst pipes.
That’s all I got/