(from an admittedly ‘spoiled’ fan)
First off Coach, I want to say that I still think you’re the best coach in college football today and I wouldn’t trade you for 10 Gus Malzahns. And I mean that sincerely.
But we all make mistakes. Many were made in Auburn, AL Saturday night that cost our team the game and a shot at a third national title in a row. I’m the first to tell Alabama fans in my circle of friends that you can’t win them all. But this was flat out an unnecessary loss.
I know I don’t have to tell you Coach that it’s your job to put your players non the best position to win. Already many questions are being asked about decisions made during the course of the game. But mine starts at the coin toss.
Coach, the next college football game I’m coaching in will be my first. I can’t build a watch either, but I can tell time. And it’s time somebody told you:
Taking the ball on offense first after winning the toss at home is a questionable call. On the road, it’s just plain dumb. This is a call you’ve made since you came to Alabama and I’ve heard your explanation for it and you’ve put your team in the hole on numerous occasions doing it (2009 National Title game comes to mind) and been lucky (and good) enough most of the time to overcome it.
This may come as a shock to you Coach, but the older generation of fans (of which I’m fortunately one) know there were great coaches around here long before you showed up. They taught us when you win the toss, you defer possession to the second half. ESPECIALLY ON THE ROAD.
You do this for two reasons. First, you want to give your defense the first opportunity to stop their offense out of the gate and set the tone for the game. Take their crowd out of it immediately. When we drove down the field and came back with ZERO points, they’re jacked, crowd’s jacked, mental points scored, advantage Auburn.
Second, you want the ball first in the second half to, again, set the tone for the most important part of the game, the last. (like Auburn did) We had them down two touchdowns going into the half. They scored before the half. THE LAST THING WE NEEDED TO DO WAS GIVE THEM THE FIRST POSSESSION IN THE SECOND HALF.
Auburn had momentum going into the half and, to their credit, came out of the locker room and used it to shove it in your face and erase the lead. It got them and their crowd back in the game. Again, mental points scored, advantage Auburn. BIGTIME.
I remember listening to a coach say one time that great players usually cover a coach’s mistakes. Going into the season I felt we had lost to many great players to repeat. (not sounding too spoiled, eh Ms. Terry?)
Fans will point to many questionable decisions during the course of the game. The failure to relieve an obviously nicked T. J. Yeldon. The calls on short yardage plays in the second half. Of course, the last play.
But there is the one call there is NO QUESTION about. No question you’re wrong about, Coach. For all the same reasons you, after winning the toss in OT, give your opponent the ball first to put their back against the wall, you do the same if you win the initial coin toss, especially on the opponent’s home turf.
This team was good enough to beat a good Auburn team. They were good enough to overcome bad decisions, on the field and the sidelines.
They weren’t good enough to overcome both. And it started from the jump. And one person can make that stop.
Coach, this fan loves you and what you’ve done for the University and our football program but please, make it stop.
Sincerely, A Spoiled Fan.