My best friends know that I am a diehard Alabama Crimson Tide fan. They know to never call me on a fall Saturday afternoon or evenings when Alabama is playing. I have Bama symbols all around me where I work and write every day. I check the online news faithfully. I even play the fight song several times a day. Thus, for the past six plus weeks I have watched the news from Tuscaloosa about the search for a new coach with great interest. Today the answer came. Nick Saban, one of the best college coaches around, left his better paying professional job in Miami and took the Alabama job. I am a happy camper this evening.

I went to the University of Alabama from 1967-69. I was there when the color barrier was broken. I even met Bear Bryant while I was a student. I grew up admiring Coach Bryant, as his guys called him, from the moment my dad took me to my first Alabama game in 1958, the Bear’s first year as Bama’s storied coach. (The Bear and my dad were born in the same year, came from the same small area of Arkansas, and went to the same high school.) It has been twenty-five long years since the Bear retired. He passed away only a month later, in January of 1982. Bama has only won one national champsionship since then, under Gene Stallings, a very fine gentleman and a great coach himself. This program has endured a long probation of four years and a desperate carousel of coaching changes, some Bama’s fault and some not. The major problem was created by an adulterous affair under Mike DuBose that turned into a blackmail scenario. This led to a football program out of control and that led to major recruiting violations when Coach DuBose lost control of every day leadership. That dark era is now over. The desire to right the ship, and to win again, is clearly back. Today’s news gladdens the hearts of true Crimson Tide fans. We have a coach and he is clearly a good one.

The New York media is like a tank full of sharks about this move. They have made fun of Alabama on ESPN regularly, suggesting for weeks that no one with an ounce of common sense would want this job. And they believe Nick Saban is a liar and a fraud since he denied interest in the job for weeks. Even though the Miami Dolphins owner has plainly said he is not angry at Saban, and indeed that he loves him personally, the media mocks both Saban and the Miami owner. Both the owner and Saban say it was all about Saban’s desire, and that of his wife Terry, to be back in a college town with college kids. But the pundits laugh and cry foul and talk about motives. The funny thing here is that no one wants to believe either Saban or the Dolphins owner, who are the only two people who know what they really talked about over the last two days. I have to say that living with accusations is no fun, especially when they are about your motives. I sure hope Coach Saban has a thick skin. I would guess he does. I know this much. He loves the game, he is a great coach, he brings real passion to the sidelines, and he will make my Saturdays a lot more fun in the coming years. Now, lets beat Tennessee and Auburn again. Rolllllllllllllllllllllllll Tide!

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  1. David Gordon January 4, 2007 at 1:27 am

    You have got to be kidding me! I think Saban is a good coach. I’m not sure he is of the caliber of Gene Stallings much less Bear Bryant. But I’ve watched this thing unfold in South Florida where I live. The guy is a liar and a poor example to young people. Stop the stuff about motives. Sure we can’t see them, but actions and words do speak real LOUD. More so the amount of money being spent to get college coaches is crazy. These are educational institutions. The goals seem misdirected. Let’s see.. Florida stands to gain $17million from playing in the BCS championship game. Does that go to higher education or to line the pockets of the athletic department. Don’t get me wrong. I like watching college football and cheering for my team. But this is getting out of hand and your alma mater has not helped matters. It is troubling! The tide has hit the toilet bowl and oh it stinks badly!! But I still love you. David

  2. David Gordon January 4, 2007 at 1:52 am
  3. John H. Armstrong January 4, 2007 at 9:51 am

    Love you too David but “It is what it is.” College football is big business and it was so long ago, just at dollars that were a lot less. Read Barra’s The Last Coach and see how George Denny (thus the name Bryant-Denny Stadium), the president of Alabama, saw football as a way to build a class university out of a poor southern small town setting, and this long before Bear Bryant. It worked. The same still holds true and thus President Witt understands what is going on here too. We can decry the business of this but it will not go away by cursing the system.
    Any chance you are not happy that Bama will once again win big now that they got a coach who can recruit and run a game plan both? Southern rivalries may be way too big but they are what they are and I just enjoy it for the ride. Rolllllllll Tide!!!!

  4. Todd Baucum January 4, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    There is no mention of poor Mike Schula being dumped by Alabama. Surely, he was a good man, just not able to pull off a victory against Auburn, even though he came in just a few years ago with an inherited mess. Only one thing matters, as Vince Lombardo said, “Winning is the only thing.”

  5. John H. Armstrong January 4, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    Poor Mike still gets $4,000,000 and will be fine. I liked him a great deal and he was a great guy but he could not do what a head coach is required to do in the setting he was placed in. I think he will be fine personally but I doubt he is ever a successful big time college coach. His level of intensity did not match the job. It was a case, in my view, of a good man in the wrong slot. I pray for Mike since I believe he loves God as a devout Catholic.

  6. David Gordon January 4, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    Thanks for your kind reply. I will check out that book (I assume) that you mentioned. Man!! when do you have the time to read all that stuff?
    I fowarded a ESPN link to you. I agree with the theory there. Saban will have a harder time recruiting in Alabama than Louisana. Auburn, GA, FSU, Tenn go hard in Alabama. He will win eventually. I hope he NEVER beats Auburn or Florida. He can beat GA every day of the week. My brother-in-law played as a starter on 2 national championship teams at Alabama – 78, 79. He has recently moved to Tuscy land to pastor a church and likely will become a the chaplain for the Tide in the next year. When I spoke to him about this he said, ‘Roll Tide’ I said shut up!!

  7. David Bahnsen January 4, 2007 at 9:59 pm

    I am very surprised that Nick did what he did, and I happen to think there is a lot more to it than just his desire to be back in a college town. I also think Psalm 15:4 plays in. But most importantly, because I do love you John, and I do root for Bama, is I can not imagine why anyone would believe he will actually be there for the entire tenure of his contract. He hasn’t yet kept his word at one coaching job he has had. WWBBD? (what would Big Bear do?) =) Blessings, and Fight on!

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