"The thing I’m concerned about is playing Auburn on a short week. Sometimes a bye is an advantage and sometimes it’s not. It’s not going to be an excuse for us."
It's now a well-known fact that some quirky shuffling from the SEC offices has left the Alabama Crimson Tide a scheduling SNAFU for this coming season as it's last SIX conference opponents all have a bye week before their game with the Tide. How this happened is anyone's guess, but I'll be first to go on the record on this blog to say it isn't fair. Some remedies are being offered, but with six teams in question with 12 games each in 13 weeks, you're better off laying down this week's paycheck on Powerball than you'd be to expect much of anything to be worked out at the last minute. There's little doubt that Alabama is getting a little bit of shaft, but if there's now a team in the conference that could put on their big boy pants and suck it up it's probably them.
Which leads us to the quote above from Nick Saban--which speaking of big boy pants, probably wears his with a 26" inseam. He fails to complain about the similar situation with the LSU game, Alabama's 3rd most-intense rival (and his personal Mein Kampf). Oh, and did I mention THAT one is in Baton Rouge? He fails to groan about the Tennessee game, Alabama's 2nd most-intense rival, and played on Rocky Top, Rocky Top, Tennessee this year. No problem buying those Vowels, Vanna. But the one morsel that comes out of his mouth, the one that I have been waiting to feast on is the seemingly innocuous quote above about little brother, Auburn--Alabama's most bitter rival. The ONE game of the three that they play at home.
Now, I'm a fair guy. F'em if they can't take a joke. Normally, I wouldn't think twice about a coach wanting to come into a game of that magnitude as well-rested or prepared as he possibly could, and wouldn't think anything unusual about that quote from coach Saban. Heck, he does have a point. I'm sure he realizes that Auburn has come into the last THREE Iron Bowls with a bye week before the game. But I'm sure it's no coincidence. You get ONE bye week. Use it carefully, not early and often. With Auburn last year, it's probably why we came out so fresh against the vaunted Tide for three fourths of the game. Nick still probably hasn't gotten the stain outta his big boy pants from that one yet. But if it's so perceived as that big an advantage, Alabama can use their bye before the Iron Bowl week too, like they did in 2008. That one paid big dividends, I seem to recall. (I kinda put it out of my mind a bit...)
But HERE'S the thing that really gets me about that quote that NO ONE is challenging: the game the week before the Iron Bowl is with the Georgia State Panthers. If you're asking who that is, I barely know myself and I'm from Georgia. Actually, they're a very large university located in downtown Atlanta who are starting their INAUGURAL football season in the FCS division (1-AA for all you old-schoolers) for the 2010 season. What's that, you say? Yes. They are playing their first season EVER. Let the games begin! Gentleman, start your engines. On your mark, get set, GO. But pass GO at Tuscaloosa, collect your million dollar paycheck, then go directly back home.
Alabama, really? Your sabvior coach is looking ahead to the following week after your little scrimmage with the team that last year was wearing two red flags on the sides of their shorts? The team that collected recruits this year like how I used to collect peanuts as a kid after the mega-harvesters had gone through the Dothan fields--one handful of goobers at a time? These kids are going to fare even worse than when the soccer players took up football at SMU in the days after the death penalty and got clubbed 95-21 by Andre Ware and Houston.
Really? You're worried about possibly doing WHAT during this game? Stubbing a toe on the Elephant Walk to the stadium? This contest will be over before most of the Crimson favorite can file into the stadium and guzzle their first swig of Bourbon. If the 2nd string isn't sitting by the end of the 1st quarter, some may wonder if Mike Shula had wandered his way back into the coach's box. Really, the Million Dollar Band should be playing Rammer Jammer RIGHT after the National Anthem. Georgia State would be better off if they just phoned this one in. Alabama fans, too. Who would drive across this state to watch this crap? I think a spike in weddings might descend upon the state that day since it'll be a bye week for one team and one for Auburn, too..
Oh, and did I mention who GA State's coach is? Bill Curry!!! How great is that going to be? Vegas is currently giving slightly better odds that the Panthers will score 28 on Alabama's defense than Bill Curry will get out of BDS without multiple concussions from flying liquor bottles, boxes of Tide and toilet paper rolls. I think if Gary Hollingsworth or Siran Stacy are in attendance this day, the camera might catch them chucking something at old Bill. Of course, Curry will be taking I-20 back to Atlanta instead of I-65 towards Lexington this time.
So which is it? A legitimate excuse on short weeks, or a ride on the Tide short bus? Nobody much calls out BS on Saban these days, but I think he's taking lessons on po'mouthing from Dr. Lou Holtz himself. Alabama griping about the lack of an open date before Auburn this year in light of who they play that week is falling on this Barnie's deaf ears.