Remember Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and his most famous flip of flops? Back in 2004, Kerry entered the realm of ignominy with a comment he couldn’t live down regarding his support or lack thereof in regard to an $87 billion appropriation for military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.”
The press savaged Kerry, ridiculing his comment as evidence of his waffling stance. The attacks likely helped cost him the election.
Now comes Nick Saban. Alabama head football coach. Once a vocal and virulent opponent of fast-paced offenses like the ones that have repeatedly shredded his defenses over the years. He and fellow anti-progressive Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema teamed up in the recent past to plead for rules changes to slow the games down under the guise of player safety.
“I think that the way people are going no-huddle right now, that at some point in time, we should look at how fast we allow the game to go in terms of player safety,” Saban said in a 2012 teleconference.
Saban publicly groused that the faster pace of play was destroying the game he professes to love.
He complained that fast-paced offenses had the capacity to outscore his plodding teams and just didn’t think that was fair.
“It’s obviously created a tremendous advantage for the offense when teams are scoring 70 points and we’re averaging 49.5 points a game. With people that do those kinds of things. More and more people are going to do it.
“I just think there’s got to be some sense of fairness in terms of asking is this what we want football to be?”
We ridiculed Saban and his Arky pal then.
Fast forward to today.
Saban’s Alabama team now utilizes some of the same tactics used by teams that pushed his Tide defenses around over the last several seasons.
Starting last season, Alabama upped the tempo. This season they’re utilizing a card system to send in plays that other programs (like Ohio State, TCU, Oregon, Ole Miss, and yes, Auburn) have used for years.
“Let’s just say this, the signs do mean something,” he said. “There’s more than one sign and they both mean something, but one of those signs is dead. Aight, so it’s like we’re in camouflage. So which one means something?”
No. Really? Some of the signals are decoys! How brilliant. All the other schools that use the system simply put the plays up there for the entire world to see. Why didn’t they think of that?
“Lane (Kiffin) didn’t really want to go no-huddle,” Saban said on the radio broadcast. “He had never done it before. I was pushing for it because I thought it would be easier for Blake Sims to operate, which it really was. When you go fast, it’s simpler.”
But wait! What about player safety? Was that argument as bogus as many claimed?
What about the good of the game? Was that also a sappy self-serving faux sentiment?
What about his tag-team partner Bielema? Does Bret feel scorned?
What about the fact that Alabama’s head coach is copying his Auburn rival? That wasn’t mentioned in the al.com piece on Saban’s immersion into the card system.
Why mention Ohio State and TCU, both of which implemented the signalling system after Auburn? Is that really where Saban looked for inspiration or was it actually at the opposite sideline?
What about the fact that the hurry-up-no-huddle offensive philosophy, the one that Saban first lamented and is now attempting to copy is currently in the process of being trademarked by Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn? Makes sense as Malzahn is credited with actually creating the concept and writing the book on it (available at Amazon).
Oddly enough when al.com profiled the card system implemented at Auburn, the inference was that Malzahn copied the concept from Oregon. You expected anything less from them?
Perpetual al.com spin aside, here’s the bigger question: Why isn’t anyone locally or nationally calling Saban out on this duplicity? Why isn’t anyone pointing out the blatant hypocrisy of trying to get rules changed “for player safety” and then adopting the same offensive philosophy when bullying the NCAA failed?
You’d think someone would. Maybe Mike Gundy at Oklahoma State or Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin or Hugh Freeze of Ole Miss or Rich Rodriguez of Arizona all of whom bashed Saban and Bielema after the two slunk into an NCAA meeting to complain about tempo and get a rules change proposed.
You’re not going to hear any questions about the Saban Flop from our friends over at al.com, the official press agency of the Alabama Crimson Tide. In fact, the take there seems to be that Saban and the Tide essentially took this rudimentary card system others tinkered with and engineered it into something that stops just shy of perfection. They’re not imitators. Saban and his crew are stone cold innovators.
Ordinarily we at the Never to Yield Foundation don’t bother to take shots at the shameless deification of all things Crimson and Houndstooth that goes on at al.com. It’s so egregious, so consistent and so ingrained that there doesn’t seem to be much point. (Did you know their cheerleaders actually CHEERED! And their band even PLAYED! Amazing. Thank goodness al.com was there to record that. Now where is that vomit bag? Just for the record, Auburn’s cheerleaders haven’t been featured on al.com since December 2014, the band since a video during Chris Davis’ game winning return in 2013).
The Bama bandwagoning at al.com is an every day occurrence. We’d need a dozen full-time staff members just to keep up. So we typically leave it alone.
But this? This was just too ridiculously obvious to pass up.
Saban was against it! Saban was for it! Huzzah! Either way.
John Kerry wonders if Saban plans to throw his trophies over the wall at NCAA Headquarters. Bet nobody’s going to ask.