Friday, January 05, 2007

All Saban, All the Time!

Here is Jeff Schultz on Saban. Jeff at least has the good sense to understand that Saban lying to the media about his interest in the Bama job isn't a big deal because all coaches have to do so when they are contemplating a move. (By way of illustration, look at what happened when Jim Mora was honest and expressed interest in the Washington job. Apparently, coaches need to say "no comment," from which everyone will infer the presence of smoke or they should just say nothing, in which case there is no story and the media has nothing to discuss. Is that what they really want?) Schultz is right on the money when he says that it's unlikely that Saban will stay the full eight years at Alabama, but what Alabama wouldn't take the same success that Saban produced at Alabama? You think that Bama fans will be complaining if Saban leaves in January 2012 after winning a national title and two SEC titles and leaves the cupboard brimming with NFL-caliber talent? OK, they're Bama fans, so the answer is probably yes, but the two or three rational people in that state will be overjoyed and you can bet that Bama fans would take that deal right now. How many LSU fans are going to say that Saban was a bad hire or not worth the money that LSU paid him? Exactly. This is a home run hire and you have to be irrationally contrary to think otherwise.

Schultz also goes after Saban for a lack of success with the Dolphins, but Saban's work in 2005 in getting a really bad team to 9-7 was universally praised in the NFL (one game worse than the 10-6 that Eric Mangini put up this year in similar circumstances and now Mike Francesa and other ignorant yankees are proclaiming that Saban is leaving because he's scared of Mangini). The Dolphins were a disappointment this year, but they finished the season on their third quarterback, so what do you expect? Furthermore, I have it on good authority (from the one Dolphins fan I know and he's a Yale Law grad, so there!) that Saban made the decision for Culpepper over Brees based on medical advice that Culpepper's injury posed less of an issue than Brees's did. So, by all means, Jeff, criticize Saban for not having a medical degree.

And this gem from Schultz is especially weak:

There are at least five schools in the SEC with more strength, stability and promise: Georgia, Florida, LSU, Tennessee, Auburn. (Alabama gets the edge over South Carolina only because of the alphabet.)

Auburn? The school that was trying to fire its coach after the 2003 season because the booster who runs the school decided that the season was disappointing? The school that typically gets out-recruited in-state by Alabama even when the Tide are struggling. (Auburn does have strong ties to western Georgia that helps to compensate for this fact.) Auburn is only a better job if your memory extends no farther than back to 2004.

And as usual, the Auburn camp has stepped forward to claim that Alabama has goofed again. Where to begin?

After all the blown smoke clears, all the UAT "brain trust" has done today is overpay by about double for a football coach.

Yes, they overpaid, but as the baseball free agent market illustrates, it's better to overpay for something close to a sure thing than it is to overpay slightly less money for a variable. Saban is as close to a sure thing as there is in the coaching market. Moreover, if coaching salaries continue to skyrocket, then the $4M per year will be less and less objectionable.

As Ivan Maisel notes this evening, going out and bribing a coach out of the NFL is a classic desperation ploy. It's an admission that the Alabama job just isn't attractive to anybody who values his job security or sanity.

If the Alabama job isn't attractive, then why did the highly-compensated Nick Saban take it? And Saban has coached in the SEC before, so you can't even claim that he doesn't know what he's getting into. Only an Auburn fan can look at his rival hiring one of the most attractive coaches on the market and then decide that this means that the Alabama job isn't an attractive one. In related news, Will will be posting this off-season on how the '92 Bama defense was a sieve, Bear Bryant wasn't as successful as Shug Jordan, and crimson is actually blue.

And they've done it because being cemented in the wake of a successful Auburn is driving them completely crazy.

No shit, Sherlock. Bama is hiring the best coach available because they haven't been successful in recent years and that's included losing five in a row to their arch-rival. If the shoe was on the other foot and Auburn had lost five in a row to Alabama while posting mostly mediocre results, wouldn't Auburn want to go out and hire the best coach available? Maybe even one who swears he won't leave his current job other than in a pine box?


Fox said...

I saw a stat somewhere on or that, all things being equal, 70% of recruits from the state of Alabama favor Bama over Auburn. Add in Saban's ability to recruit outside the state, and the cupboard should be fully stocked for a nice 5 year run.

Michael, you are absolutely right to point out the benefits he left LSU after he bolted. Does anyone really think Les Miles would be coaching a Top 5 team if Saban hadn't rebuilt the program and brought in a ton of talent?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Shultz was dead on in that article.

Alabama is a better job than Auburn because of 2003? No chance. Tuberville has one of the most secure jobs in the SEC right now. Did you note that the AD and President (both influential in the "Jet-Gate" of '03) are gone and Tuberville is still there? No one has heard a peep out of Lowder since then, his power was diminished greatly after that gaffe. He's still got a gazillion dollars and very powerful but nowhere near the extent he was.

Mike Dubose, Franchi-gone-ie, Mike Price (It's Rollin Baby), Mikey Shula. Right.

NCAA Probation. Check.

Alabama dominates recruiting? Maybe in Birmingham, Alabama, but Auburn has always done well in South Georgia, much of Alabama, and in the last ten years the state of Florida (see #2 rated RB in nation this year committed). Check the stats on who has more NFL Players - by a good margin.

Throw in that AU has a 5 year cushion in the rivalry, Saban will have a less talented team for at LEAST the next 3 years, if he loses the next two Iron Bowls (very possible) then the job in Tuscaloosa become not only the worst in the SEC but the worst in the Nation.

Dealing with Reality v. Perception. Since 1982 (Bear's last year) Auburn 15 - Alabama 10 head-to-head. Kids deciding on schools now have a completely different outlook on the two programs.

Anonymous said...

If you don't think every coach recruiting against Saban has enough ammo to show him as a liar and vagabond now, think again. After his treatment in the media, its going to be a while before he can look a kids parents in the eyes and tell them he will be there for their kid for the next 4 years.

Also, on the point that Saban turned-around a program. No doubt they were more succesful after he left, which is a credit to him, but he had tons of talent when he got there. I count 18+ players recruited by the previous coach who got at least 1 year in the NFL. That is serious talent.

Michael said...

Wow, Tuberville is secure after a three-year stretch in which he went 33-5? What other program can claim such security? The point is not whether a coach is stable after winning a bunch of games, but rather whether he's stable after a bad season or two. Tuberville was about to be fired after a decent, but disappointing season in 2003.

HS talent in Alabama breaks in favor of Bama by a 70/30 margin, regardless of the fact that Auburn has had the upper hand in the series in recent years because of inept Bama coaches. (You think that recruits are unable to tell the difference between Bama's chances against Auburn with DuBose or Shula and their chances with Saban?) Maisel quoted that figure this week and he's no Bama fan right now. Auburn does make up for that somewhat with GA and FL talent, but there's no doubt that Bama is the king in-state and they also have strong recruiting in MS, historically.

Yeah, I'm sure that Alabama is going to fire Saban and pay a $24M buyout if he loses the next two to Auburn.

Saban can easily tell recruits:

1. Bama has made a huge financial commitment to me, so I'm not going anywhere; and

2. I have my dream job now, so all those previous moves don't matter.

Plus, he was a great recruiter at LSU despite constant rumors that he was headed to the NFL. Players can see how LSU has done since he left and realize that Saban leaving wouldn't be the end of the world.

Finally, LSU was 7-15 in the two years before Saban arrived. Yes, there was talent on-hand, but it took a better coach to develop it. You think those players would be in the NFL if they had four years of Dinardo?

Anonymous said...

By your logic Alabama is a more secure job because they fired their last coach one year removed from a 10-2 season, while Auburn almost fired theirs in 2003?

Ivan Maisel, who you refer to as the Soviet Historian and constantly accuse of being inaccurate, says Alabama recruits go 70/30 towards Alabama so that makes it true? And Maisel, a lifelong Alabama fan, is suddenly without bias?

It's not about whether they can recognize Alabama under Dubose as being bad, its about who you start to pull for when you are 10 or 11 that has the inside edge. Because of Auburn's domination the last 5 years those kids have that fresh in their mind.

I never said anything about Saban being fired after 2 years, that will take at least 4 because of the buyout. But if you think he loses to Auburn the next two years (7 straight) and everything will be nice and cushy I would have to disagree. His life will be a living hell.

And 7 different opposing coaches will just as easily tell the kids and their parents:

1. Dolphins made an even bigger financial commitment to him, don't let the door hit you.

2. I have my dream job at a. Mich St b. LSU c. Miami Dolphins or d. Roll Tide. Take your pick.

That players would think "look how good LSU is after he left, I want to go there just in case he bails!" Not a good argument.

He will have nowhere near the integrity with recruits he once had. This is the same guy that let his assistants know he was leaving over the speaker phone and emailed his whole team to tell them buh bye.