History Repeating?: An Auburn fan/ "historian", attempts to predict outcomes of Auburn games by looking at seemingly unrelated historical events. A waste of time? Only if it doesn’t work.
What was worse, my prediction last week or Auburn’s offensive line play? Easy, Auburn’s offensive line play, even though on a few snaps my prediction blocked as many people as Auburn’s pulling guard. It would have been more effective to print my last article out and throw the paper in Myles Garrett’s face than to try to block him with a fullback.
This week has to be better. Otherwise, people might get suspicious that I’m just making this stuff up as I go.
Looking deep into the past, I see the signs vaguely taking shape. There is a connection reaching through the bowels of time and into the toilet bowl of this season.
The Death of Manuel I Komnenos, Byzantine Emperor
On September 24, 1180, Manuel I died. A warrior-king, a “divine ruler,” and a guy who did some amazing things and won some important battle. People wrote great stories about him, called him great names and even attributed power to him no human could ever have. It turns out he might have just had people write things about him, and that his power might have just been because he inherited a pretty powerful empire. It is tough to not be powerful when you take over an empire that spanned most of eastern Europe.
His death was the beginning of the end of the empire. It began to decline rapidly after September 24, 1180. No leader could come in and save it, which makes many historians believe the real decline took place while he was still alive. He may just not have been a very good emperor. That’s OK by the way, some people aren’t good emperors. I don’t think I would be a good one. That’s a lot of pressure.
Manuel also seemed to have the distinction of being successful but in a vague enough way that no one could seem to point to something he actually was doing successfully. Everyone just assumed he was doing just fine. He got a lot of people to agree to join his team and to fight his battles for him, so as a recruiter he was a big success. He, an Orthodox Christian, got the Pope to agree with one of his crusades, easily the five-star signing of his day.
On September 24, 2016, two teams will play in Jordan-Hare Stadium, both of which have coaches who could easily be described as similar to Manuel I. Both lead historically strong programs, both are looked at as successful, “Big Name” coaches, and both might be less successful than you think. The more you look at the numbers, the more the success of Les Miles and Gus Malzahn begins to go away. There are now toddlers old enough to tell you they’ve never been alive for an Auburn home SEC win. Miles’ record against the top 10 in the past few years isn’t super great either. Les Miles has the benefit of recruiting five-star players from Louisiana to play at the school where they’ve wanted to play their whole lives, and he still can’t seem to find a quarterback. Gus Malzahn turned a defensive back into a SEC champion quarterback but can’t seem to get a blue-chip quarterback to consistently throw to ball to people on his own team/people further than ten feet away.
Two coaches whose fan bases are beginning to stop finding their eccentricities “cute.”
Saturday night, one coach is going to probably lose either his job or the jobs of several people on his staff. This is an unfortunate reality for college football. Success in football can come from a balance of consistency and innovation. If a coach is fired every three years, there is no chance of ever building consistency. On the other hand, when a coach’s philosophy is no longer adapting, when it becomes as stale as three day old Hardee’s biscuits, it is time to move on.
Here’s the thing, though: Manuel I took over for a REALLY good emperor. John II was his dad, and was universally beloved, even by people who usually hated the Byzantines. He was extremely successful, and the whole time Manuel was in power, I bet his fans really wished they could get John back.
Well, Gus’ predecessor wore bizarre short-sleeved jackets every day, not exactly the symbol of intelligence and success. He also hired a guy to be an offensive coordinator because the guy had met Tom Brady that one time. I don’t think Auburn fans want to get Gus’ predecessor back.
How about Miles? Yeah, he is getting fired.
Auburn wins this game because I can’t be wrong two weeks in a row.
Excited about this week’s game? Constanti-NOPE-al