As the Alabama Crimson Tide prepares to open the 2012 football season against Michigan, the Wall Street Journal declared Nick Saban and his Alabama football team “the game’s ‘it’ team, an all-powerful and impervious Death Star of a program.”
The Wall Street Journal asks a simple question, “Can anyone stop Alabama?”
The answer of course is…Yes.
Alabama can stop Alabama.
Saban’s method requires players to be self-motivated. In his book, Saban eschews extrinsic motivational factors. What this means is that each football team has its own personality that develops synergistically between Saban’s attitude and the team’s own leadership. Examples of this come from 2008-2011. The good came in the 2008, 2009 and 2011 season and the bad in the complacency of the 2010 team—a team that lacked significant leadership holding other players accountable.
So, how will the 2011 Alabama team perform? In many ways, it comes down to how motivated the players are to do the work required. This never changes from season-to-season. It is even more important when facing top opponents like Michigan.
There are a couple of things that make this matchup interesting. First, Michigan has dramatically improved its coaching situation with Hoke. Second, Michigan has a dynamic playmarker at quarterback.
In the TCS video naming the Top 5 College Football Coaches in 2012, both Alabama Crimson Tide Football Coach Nick Saban and Michigan Football Coach Brady Hoke made the list. (Video embedded above. Not all mobile devices can view video.) The TCS list includes South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier at #5, Hoke at #4, LSU Coach Les Miles at #3, Oregon Coach Chip Kelly at #2, and Alabama football coach Nick Saban at #1.
The video points out that Hoke did a marvelous job at Michigan last season. Hoke turned around a dreadful defense into a solid unit that won games.
The second point is all about Denard Robinson. He is a special athlete. Earlier this week, The Detroit Sports Site asked for my opinion on how Alabama could defend Robinson. My answer focused on containment and forcing Robinson to beat you with his arm. You can read more at the site.
The Michigan game becomes an important gauge for the entire season. Can Michigan beat Alabama? Talent is in Alabama’s favor at this point despite Denard Robinson, but the Wolverines can win if Alabama beats itself.
Prediction: Alabama 27 Michigan 17