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Is Saturday's Iron Bowl A Must Win For Saban?

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By Jay Coulter
jccoulter@gmail.com

"It's not going to get any easier. Auburn may beat Alabama this year (for the sixth year in a row). They'll be favored. But Saturday (against Tennessee) in Tuscaloosa was a preview of the future.

The 41-17 victory over Tennessee showed that Alabama can now do more with less. It showed that on any given Saturday, Saban can find a way. Alabama hasn't had this luxury in a very long time.

And Tuberville hasn't had a foe across the state to deal with like this, either.

So if Tubs is having trouble making his decision (to go to Texas A&M), I suggest he pop in a DVD and watch the scene in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, as Alabama football inched closer to being relevant again. Watch the crowd cheer at the end of the game. Watch the crowd stay in their seats. Listen to the noise they made."

-Paul Finebaum following Alabama’s victory over Tennessee on October 20th

In the words of Lee Corso, "Not so fast my friend."

We have full meltdown in the state of Alabama on this Monday before the Iron Bowl. As a friend of mine said today, Alabama is eating their young.

Listening to talk radio across the state, it was amazing to hear the Alabama fans blame the players without making mention of Nick Saban. After all, it can’t possibly be Saban’s fault can it? These are Mike Shula’s players. At least that’s what I heard on the radio today.

How out of touch with reality is Saban? He compared the loss to Louisiana-Monroe with September 11th and Pearl Harbor. Somebody get the straight jacket quick.  

What must Paul Bryant Jr. and Mal Moore be thinking tonight? Has Alabama again bought fool’s gold?

Can Nick Saban really turn this program around? Does he have the mental fortitude to make this program a winner when so many before him have failed? Was he the right hire or was Alabama so desperate to find a coach that they overlooked the obvious?

If you haven’t noticed, the Miami Dolphins are 0-10 in the NFL. If Saturday’s loss was partially Shula’s fault, does that mean Saban should take some of the blame for the Dolphin’s woes? A rational person would say yes.

Colin Cowherd of ESPN Radio made the comment today that Saban was half the coach that Les Miles is and pointed to the fact that Miles turned Oklahoma State around in a season and has LSU on the verge of another SEC championship and possible national title.

Are we all beginning to realize that Nick Saban is the sign of mediocrity? Was the 2003 national championship the exception to an otherwise mediocre career? Is it possible that he even underachieved at LSU? You have to wonder when looking at the success Miles has had in just a few years.

The real question is this: What long term ramifications will Saturday’s loss have on Saban and Alabama? Should the Tide lose for the sixth consecutive time on Saturday and follow that up with a bowl loss, how much patience will Alabama fans have?

The schedule doesn’t get any better next year. Should Saban lose five games and suffer a seventh loss to Auburn, does he survive at $4 million a year?

It’s not a reach to say that Saban, in his first season on the Capstone is playing for his job Saturday night.

Think about it. It's not as crazy as it sounds.