Last season Alabama head coach Nick Saban led his Tide to a 25-0 shutout of Hugh Freeze’s version, outscored a healthy Johnny Manziel on his turf (something Auburn didn’t do), but faltered in Auburn due to four missed field goals, the raping of college football’s rules, and the most improbable play of the 2013 college football season.
In short, it took a miracle for Auburn’s brand of HUNH to beat Alabama, and if you like those kind of odds in your corner year in and year out, I’d like to sit across from you at the poker table, please.
In 2012, despite an impressive first quarter performance…and some of the most unconventional, backyard plays ever seen from Manziel…it took quarterback AJ McCarron tossing an ill-advised interception in the game’s final seconds for Texas A&M’s HUNH to pull out the victory. A win that even then depended on an offsides penalty from Bama’s punt return team with some 30 seconds left on the clock.
This is about a coach…the most powerful coach in the game today…doing what he thinks is right for the game today..and for his team. And as Cecil Hurt aptly put it, isn’t that his job?
Saban has posed the question before: “Is this (the HUNH) really where we want to see college football go?”
Auburn fans love to regurgitate silly, handed down talking points. Things like “Saban can’t beat it so he has to change the rules.”
Intelligence counters with, “If you can’t beat Saban, exploit the rules until the NCAA does the logical thing and fixes them.”
For instance, under NCAA rule, every play is supposed to be reviewed, yet one of the objectives of the HUNH system is to rush to the line to run a play before the replay booth can do so. Tell me, how in the name of everything good and green is that legal? How can a loophole override what the rules state?
The latest cry is for data, like every sportswriter and fan in the world is now some sort of scientist eager to pore over numbers to prove or disprove the hypothesis of their preference. You don’t have to look hard to see numbers contorted in any direction to support the argument de jour.
But in the end, what it will come down to is this: Is the HUNH good for the game of football? Forget talk of injuries, which again, common sense (not writers with agendas and fan bases to cater to) will suggest that a weary player who can’t get out of the game is at greater risk than a fresh substitute. The point will be, is this cheap, sucker-punch brand of football good for the game? And whichever shade of lipstick they choose to put on this pig, calling it a decision for injuries, it will all be about common sense. Not high school coaches pitching fits to get their way.
Auburn fans sure hope change doesn’t happen. The school that gave up playing man football years ago knows they have no other source than smoke, mirrors and miracles. Neutralize whatever edge they think they have and the Fambly will deflate like a popped balloon (until the next gimmick comes along). What Auburn really should hope for is defensive backs not learning to swat away 4th down hail marry’s, rather than decisions to go their way regarding rule changes.
(Do you realize, Auburn fan, how unlikely it is that you’ll see a season like last year again??? That the whiff of greatest you smelled in Pasadena has long left your vicinity, being replaced by the fart of orange and blue reality? That’s a column for another day…I digress…)
One thing is for sure. When the rule passes, expect calamity in Lee County. After blowing a huge lead, losing the National Championship, ending the SEC’s streak, failing to turn last year’s success into recruiting dominance and losing ANOTHER top linebacker from their local high school to the Crimson Tide. After the decision there will be hysteria the likes of which you’ve never seen.
And I can’t wait.