Becker: Saban’s dissatisfaction is delusional
Courtney Becker | Tuesday, October 9, 2018
Poor Nick Saban.
He’s won five national championships since 2009 as head coach of the Alabama football team, his squad made the College Football Playoff thanks to a controversial decision to prioritize the Alabama-Clemson threepeat and his salary is now over $11 million (something even he thinks is probably not worth it — but he “[doesn’t] really do this for the money”).
Still, Saban is not satisfied.
Saban is the kind of coach who is never going to be satisfied with his football team (that’s how you build a program that goes to four-straight College Football Playoffs), but there’s hard to find anything wrong with the Crimson Tide right now. They’ve beaten their first six opponents by a combined 240 points.
After a 45-23 win over Texas A&M two weeks ago, Saban even told reporters, “I would appreciate it if you would sort of look at some of the things we didn’t do so well, all right, and write about that so I can show it to the players and say, ‘Look here, man. Here’s something you can do better.’”
And yes, it’s easy to scoff at Alabama’s strength of schedule when they play teams like Louisiana at Lafayette and Citadel, but Texas A&M just jumped into the national rankings at No. 22, and the four-game stretch in November during which they play No. 13 LSU, No. 24 Mississippi State and No. 21 Auburn would be a test for any college football team.
And yet, one week after the A&M game, Saban found something else to complain about: the empty seats in the Alabama student section during their 56-14 blowout of LA-Lafayette.
“I can honestly say I was a little disappointed there weren’t more students at the last game. I think we’re trying to address that,” he said. “I don’t think they’re entitled to anything, either. Me, personally, I think it ought to be first-come, first-serve. If they don’t want to come to the game, they don’t have to come. But I’m sure there’s enough people around here that would like to go to the games, and we’d like for them to come, too, because they support the players.”
Let’s get a few things out of the way: the scheduled kickoff time for this game was 11 a.m. The game took place over parents’ weekend. Prior to this matchup between college football’s most dominant powerhouse and the pride of the Sun Belt Conference, Alabama had beaten its first four opponents by a combined 164 points.
During the game, the Crimson Tide took a 28-0 lead in the first quarter. The third quarter saw several third-string players enter the game. And, oh yeah, the recorded attendance at Bryant-Denny Stadium was 101,471.
For Saban to say the students at the university his football team supposedly represents aren’t entitled to seats at games because 400 ticketed students didn’t show up to watch the No. 1 team in college football destroy a team many had probably never heard of before is beyond absurd.
The students pay tuition to the university, they provide it with many non-football services and there would be no Alabama football team without the students. Lest Saban forget, this is not a professional team. He and his players do not represent the state of Alabama.
Of course, Saban was backed up by the least entitled failed-football-player-turned-baseball-player in the world, Tim Tebow.
“Listen, as a student, you’ve done nothing to win all of these titles, okay? You spend a little bit of daddy’s money to show up at a game and to go to school there,” Tebow said. “ … You’re 18, 19, 20 years old. You’ve done nothing for the University of Alabama. It’s your job to show up so you can live out the claims that you’re the best fans in college football because we see it in signs all the time.”
So much about Tebow’s statement is appalling, it could honestly probably get its own Sports Authority. The blatant dismissal of students on financial aid, the total disregard for everything each student does for a university day in and day out, the claim that a student’s job is to be a football fan rather than a student and the complete tone-deafness of someone who felt he was entitled to switch sports and automatically have a new career when he didn’t succeed at his first choice are all infuriating. If anything, Tebow’s comment further emphasizes how ridiculous Saban’s complaints were in the first place.
There is no denying Saban has done great things for Alabama. He brings in championships, he brings in donor money and he brings in a more competitive pool of students. But those students do not deserve to be ridiculed by their university’s football coach on a national stage because they decided to sleep in, study for exams or spend time with their parents while the Crimson Tide bullied yet another team.
Football is a great game, and there’s no better feeling for a sports fan than your preferred team playing at the top of its game, but football is not everything. To pretend otherwise in his position just makes Saban sound entitled.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.