According to Hootens.com, an Arkansas fan site, University of Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema told the Saline County Razorback Club in Benton, Arkansas that he came to Arkansas not to play Alabama, but to “beat Alabama.”
Tough talk for a man coming into a program that hasn’t seen victory over the Tide since 2006. The czar of a team that last year looked more like a club team during Alabama’s 52-0 squashing of the hogs than an actual college football program.
But the rub came when he compared his tenure at Wisconsin (68-24 in seven years) to Saban’s five-year stint at Michigan State (34-24-1).
“You can take Saban’s record when he was at Michigan State and when he was a coach in the Big Ten and put it against mine, and he can’t compare,” Bielema said.
Lots of things happen when coaches take the microphone in front of the home crowd. There’s a lot of “yeah, yeah-ing” that takes place. Lots of politicking, lots of campaigning. And under the influence of fandom inebriation, facing a crowd wearing plastic pigs on their heads, ole Bret was probably feeling 10 feet tall and six feet thick.
You can bet Bret Enema’s words didn’t faze Saban at all; Bret’s just the latest coach to try and ride Saban’s coat tails, reaching for credibility with a fanbase by pledging relief from Crimson dominance, though saying it and doing it are two very different things.
But ole Bret learned a lesson the hard way on his honeymoon in piggieville. We’ll call it the Mike Price rule:
This is the SEC. Everything you do and say will be noticed/heard, amplified and held against you in the crazed court of fandom opinion.
While Bielema’s antics are a far cry from “waking up with Destiny,” perhaps they were a wake up call for the coach, and tugging on Superman’s cape when you’ll be going into his house in a few months isn’t advised.
In January of this year Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin also suffered a little from diarhea of the mouth syndrome when he referred to Saban at “Nicky Satan” while speaking at a sports banquet in Macon, GA. He later offered an apology, saying he was referring to Saban’s work ethic, and that Vandy was going to outwork he and Alabama. Riiiight.
Little Bret did a little crawfishing of his own, tweeting:
But all the coach has done…a coach who’s yet to prove he can win a game in the SEC…was prove one thing: Alabama is on his mind…and in his head.
Which is exactly what Nick Saban set out to do on January 4, 2007. It’s why he owns college football at the moment. The real game takes place in meeting rooms and on practice fields before a team ever takes the field against Alabama.
Comments like Bielema’s, Franklin’s, and others who have popped off while safely out of arm’s reach simply prove Saban’s prophetic words from his opening day presser have rung true time and again:
“What I would like for every football team to do that we play is to sit there and say, ‘I hate playing against these guys. I hate playing them. Their effort, their toughness, relentless resiliency, go out every play and focus, play the next day, compete for 60 minutes in the game, I can’t handle that.’”
Alabama has long been that team…results, not talk, in Tuscaloosa have built massive college football equity. Which is why Nick Saban’s mouth doesn’t have to write checks he later won’t be able to cash.