They cried when Nick Saban stepped on campus in 2007 and changed the rules. They cried when he closed practices…not some, but all of them…to the media.
And they cry whenever Alabama head coach Nick Saban goes on one of his rants in the media room.
I’m talking about the media, a group largely made up of pussy-footed, sports nerds who’ve never donned a set of shoulderpads themselves. And specifically, about cbssports.com’s Greg Doyel, who today lamented over the utter cruelty those innocent media members had to endure.
Yesterday, Nick Saban went on one of his predictable rants (watch it here) following what he called a bad practice. The first thing you have to understand is, this is a game to the man. This rant wouldn’t have come if LSU were the opponent this Saturday. But they’re not. It’s Western Kentucky.
How do you get a team up to play Western Kentucky? Ask any true leader in any field of business or competition and they’ll tell you, the hardest thing to regain is momentum. Take a day off, miss an opportunity, let down your guard, and getting back to where you were before is twice as hard.
So this week the coach is sifting through his team with a fine-tooth comb, flooding them with complaints and things they need to improve on this young season. I would dare say this week someone has been told their shoelaces weren’t tied correctly by Bama’s football czar.
If you haven’t experienced this in your professional field, you simply haven’t worked for a leader. Leaders don’t have to be as harsh as Saban chooses to be, but leaders do exactly what he does.
The rant yesterday came as a result of the nice things reporters have been writing about the Tide. With eleven games left to go before any championships can be discussed, media from coast-to-coast have polished the crown for the defending national champs. And so, Saban wanted to send a message.
“We haven’t won anything.”
It was one game. Michigan was destroyed under the lights of the Jerry dome, but it was still just one game. There are many more hurdles to clear and hills to climb for this team, and filling their heads with grandiose visions of greatness is the exact recipe that landed the Tide at 10-3 in their 2010 campaign…still humorous to me that anywhere but at ‘Bama that’s a great year.
So, standing at the podium Wednesday evening, Saban did what he does. I’ve been in that room, and I know what it feels like. I’ve heard the chatter before the conferences, and after. And let me tell you, despite Greg Doyel’s whining about bullying and other media B.S. and jargon, there were no victims there.
Every person in that room, save the writers for Bama magazine and fan websites, would turn their pens 180 degrees the other direction to shred the Tide and its head man if the opportunity presented itself. Heck, some don’t even need a good reason; they’ll invent one (I’m looking at you, Kevin Scarbinsky, ala your failed “suit gate” last year.)
The Birmingham News’ beatwriter for Alabama (Don Kausler) is anything but a Bama lacky, unlike the lap dog the same paper sends to Auburn to practically reprint Auburn’s media relations’ talking points. Nick Saban has no reason to trust anyone in that room. Most of them are people who never attempted a high school football practice, let alone the intense exercise of trying to play in college. I’ve seen them…I know. Or at least if they did, you’d want to make sure their team was your homecoming foe.
Remember too that prior to Saban coming to Alabama, he was put through the gauntlet in Miami. Every word, every statement, every chance they had, the press tried to paint Nick Saban into a corner about the Alabama job. Pushing him to the point that he outright denied interest in the job, a denial he later said was in haste. And then, at the first chance, the press grilled him for taking it, going on a smear campaign for his first year in Tuscaloosa.
But one thing shuts the media up, and that’s success. And no one can argue with the success the Crimson Tide has achieved with him at the helm. So you’re right, Greg Doyel, we as Alabama fans, alumni and supporters don’t give a rat’s butt hair about how you and your comrads are treated. Because you can’t be trusted. We don’t trust you, and apparently he doesn’t either. And that’s fine with us.
We remember 2000-2006, how the whole story of what really was going on in Tuscaloosa was never told. No one chased the ambulances that ran us over. No one investigated the dealings that got Tennessee off the hook and Alabama on it. No one told the whole story behind Auburn’s hollow “streak” in the Iron Bowl, or how through circumstance the Tide was forced to hire the most impotent coach in its history in Mike Shula. They just enjoyed the malfeasance in Tuscaloosa, and talked about how a giant had fallen.
Last time I checked, no one dragged you or anyone in the press room yesterday from their homes in the dead of night, forcing them at gunpoint to be reporters. So while you stroll into the stadium on Saturdays, enjoying your press passes, catered lunches and 50-yardline pressbox seats, all at the expense of the University you would lambast at the first chance, forgive us for not giving a rip when you get ripped.
It isn’t our job to care about you getting your feelings hurt. It’s your job to act like a man, take it and do what you’re paid to do. Which is cover the news, not try to make it.
While he was in Baton Rouge I once heard an LSU fan exclaim “Nick Saban may be a son of a b****, but he’s OUR son of a b****.”
I would contend that every Alabama fan feels the same way. And no matter what kind of flimsy, mamsy-pamsy Sunday School answer you want to try and manufacture, I would bet you $10,000 to a doughnut that if Saban were theirs, every current Bama hater would say the same thing.
But he’s not. He’s in Tuscaloosa. He’s got Bama on top, clicking like a machine, and he ain’t going anywhere anytime soon.
So here’s you a box of Kleenex, Greg Doyel. And from the sounds of it, maybe some Tampax. But save your whining. And before you cry again about the harsh conditions that come with covering Bama football under Nick Saban, there are some Chilean miners I’d like you to speak with. I’m sure they’d LOVE the free buffet and passes this Saturday in exchange for the “cruelty” you have to endure.