Roy Exum: What? Nick Saban’s Fault!

Monday, December 2, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

By late Sunday afternoon three different websites carried lead stories that pointedly asked was it Nick Saban’s fault that previously unbeaten Alabama lost one of the greatest college football games in history 24 hours earlier. Another revealed Alabama field goal kicker Cade Foster had gotten not only death threats but vulgar and graphic tweets from the worst Crimson Tide fans, one that said he hoped the kid’s mother would be raped and another profanity-laced missive that urged him to “go die in a hole.”

Why is it the greater the spectacle the worse the bums turn out? Why can’t we relish every second of the epic Iron Bowl encounter and look instead at “why Auburn won” the 34-28 thriller over Alabama with no time remaining instead of desperately seeking the game’s goat? Auburn, a 10-point underdog, won because of a 109-yard gallop by Chris Davis after an errant field goal try at the game’s end that sent delightful shocks through everybody in front of a TV set.

Auburn’s success late in the season has been a glorious fairy tale -- first year coach Gus Malzahn snatching not one but two from the fire in as many weeks. Everybody figured it would take years to forget the Tigers’ stirring 44-38 victory over Georgia the week before when Ricardo Louis grabbed a well-tapped “Hail Mary” pass on a fourth-down prayer that went for 74 yards.

But Saturday’s winner-take-all in the SEC West was truly one of the greatest games ever played in the South. Yes, the Alabama kicker, who was 10-of-11 coming in, had a bad night with three misses but a close review of game film will reveal missed tackles, missed blocks, runs-for-loss, dropped passes and broken plays by both teams.

That both Auburn and Alabama struggled to overcome mistakes is what made the game so memorable. I just love marveling at the touchdowns, the great passes, the speed, the key tackles and the great achievement shared by Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall and the sensational A.J. McCarron, who just lost the third time in his entire college career.

Alright, you want to blame Nick? It is Saban’s fault that Alabama has won three of the last four national championships and I guess he must shoulder most of the blame for winning 11 out of 12 in this year’s regular season. As a matter of fact, there are only three teams in the country who wouldn’t want to be No. 4 in this week’s Associated Press poll like Alabama (the three are No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3). Blame him for that.

What is the world is the matter with the despicable Good Time Charlies that are the curse of every successful program? The Legion of the Miserable tried hard on Sunday to gouge Saban for electing to kick a 57-yard field goal with no time on the clock. Saban knew Cade Foster was having a tough day, but he also knew freshman Adam Griffith “can kick farther than Cade.”

Any coach in America would have tried the field goal rather than allow the game to end in a tie. None of us have ever seen a 109-yard field goal try returned, especially with 0:01 on the clock. “We knew (Auburn) had (Davis) back there,” said the Alabama coach. “Everybody knew they had to cover him, too. We just didn’t, we didn’t cover it right.”

The delightful Davis told sports writers, “When I looked back, I couldn’t believe this! When I was running, I said, ‘God is Good!’”

Why can’t we relish that instead of being subjected to a rash of angry tweets from the other Alabama players who are indignant that their so-called fans would slime teammate Cade Foster so badly. All-American linebacker C.J. Mosely, who had 12 tackles for Alabama, wrote “You fake Bama Fans stop sending threats to my teammate, you spoiled *******. Respect what we do and know we are all human and that’s REAL!”

Quarterback A.J. McCarron, the Heisman hopeful, texted, “Love my team...salute to the AU players…great program…but let me say this. We win and lose as a team. If u blame this on 1 guy U aren’t a true fan.”

Some people love the glory, the good times, but need to work harder at being on the team.

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