Editorial Cartoon: Daddy’s Home
This week has been a roller coaster ride for me. I hate this game every year because it means so much, and determines so much in the circles that I run in. I have been uneasy about this game, but after some self-introspection, let me tell you why.
I found the answerÂ after talking to others this week. The “streak” as our boog friends like to call it, conditionedÂ us to hate thisÂ game. For seven or eight years, we weren’t on equal footing with our friends on the plains. They had better coaching, a moreÂ cohesive staff, better players and less controversy surrounding their program.Â We often entered this game limping (as we did inÂ 2005), missing key players due to injury…a by-product of reduced scholarships. Poorly conditioned as a team, the previous eleven games depleted us as a teamÂ entering the Iron Bowl.
Coaching wasÂ a bigÂ factor. Dubose, Franchione (with his mind on College Station) and Shula were all overmatched. But the biggest issue was talent. Ravaged by probation and the things that come with it, our 22 was nowhere near as good as their 22. So, since 1999, it has been easy to walk into this game uneasy. But that all has changed.
For you see…Daddy’s home.
We have Nick Saban, who has been focused on the opponentÂ in this state thatÂ he seeks to dominate “365 days a year.” (quote,Â Saban).Â HeÂ bringsÂ a system designed to shred any doubt early and often in games like this (with overmatched opponents). With 2 1/2 of the best recruiting classes we’ve ever had, we now have the better players. With the fourth quarter conditioning program, we now have fewer injuries and the most available reserves to come in a pulverize the Aubs when they start getting weak in the knees. And Saban has restored stability to the Alabama football program.Â So for the first time in a long time, I can enter this game confident that the boogs won’t have their day.
They all want to point to 1989 as the blueprint for victory today. But let me just remind you, back then, they still had the better coach, they still had equal if not better talent, and there was far less controversy and sidebars associated with Auburn than there was Alabama.
This is a different day. This is a different Alabama. And Auburn? Daddy’s home…and he’s not happy.