While wondering what it would be like to live vicariously through someone who was living vicariously …
The T’eo of Notre Dame. Speaking of a life rooted in something other than reality — both on and off the field — how about Manti T’eo. Here’s a guy who had a relationship with the universe simply because that’s what the universe wanted. At least the college football universe did. He’s a good player, so don’t get me wrong. But not anywhere nearly as good as the universe claimed he was. Alabama has had four better linebackers the past four years than the guy that damn near won the Heisman. And yet none of them sniffed New York, because none of them wear gold helmets. Let me be painfully clear: T’eo was largely a product of Notre Dame hype. Kinda like his girlfriend. The only thing he showed us in Miami is that he’s really good at running around and diving a lot and throwing his arms around air. And that won’t get it done, whether it’s on the field or on the sofa.
The Tao of Saban. Saban’s relationship with the world around him is different. Unlike T’eo, the world didn’t give Saban his due. He took it by the throat and dragged it home. He made the universe’s ass quit. And now, he’s doing it to the people who live in it. He takes all the crystal trophies. He gets your coach fired. If he wanted to, he’d steal your wife – but not before he got your son to sign a letter of intent. And yet the best coach on the planet – with a ridiculous three national titles in four years – is still looking for ways to improve. Take, for example, the recruitment of guys like Henry Poggi and Tim Williams. They are a little smaller and more athletic than what Saban typically looks for at those respective positions (defensive line for Poggi, linebacker for Williams). And his rationale is simple: let’s get even better. Saban’s not gonna change his entire philosophy. Why should he? But he’ll likely tweak it, because he wants to see improvement in defending the hurry-up offense. Once again, he’s showing why he’s the best there is. It’s because he doesn’t live as though he’s the best there is.
Stars Do Matter. Stop the insanity. To hear some tell it, stars have absolutely nothing – and I mean nothing – to do with on-field performance. I’ll have more on this after Signing Day. For now, let me just say that anyone who think that way has a two-star noggin. Read this s l o w l y. The teams getting the best talent are taking home all the trophies. Ten teams have won national titles in the BCS era. All of them except Auburn were recruiting juggernauts in the years leading up to their titles. And even the Tigers had a four-year Rival’s composite ranking of 12.5 – not too shabby. Plus they had Nick Unfairley and Laptop Boy and a whole lot of damn luck in close games. But the other nine teams were signing top five classes almost every year. You know, the ones full of four and five stars? Those classes? Sure, it takes coaching and development. Sure, plenty of three-star kids do very well (Marcel Dareus comes to mind). But teams that kick ass on the field have already kicked ass in living rooms. Let’s face it. If Nick Saban had Kentucky’s roster, he wouldn’t win with it. He’d change it. That should tell all you “stars don’t matter” people something. The man needs good players, and he gets em. Better ingredients. Better football team.
For some reason I’m craving pizza.