Alabama Football: Exodus in Baton Rouge and ‘dug-in’ in Auburn


Alabama Football: Crimson Tide fans want to preview the Playoff games but soap operas elsewhere keep distracting us.

Fair warning to readers: this post is mostly just the opinion of one Alabama football fan. Available facts are included but they tell an incomplete story. What is going on with multiple SEC football programs is both predictable and also hard to explain. With the massive resources available and attention so focused on SEC football, how can there be such incompetence?

Anyone who can answer that question, please share your insight with us.

Disarray is accurate but a too-mild word to define what is happening in Auburn, Baton Rouge, Knoxville and to a smaller extent, Gainesville. How can four of the six most historically honored SEC football programs be such a mess? We have one answer to this question. It is Nick Saban.

Chasing Saban-like success is the second constant in the SEC. The first constant is Nick Saban and the Alabama Football program he has built. All the wannabes will apparently do almost anything to try and catch Saban. There is a reason we say ‘catch’ rather than ‘pass’ because any school, or head coach, actually believing it can surpass Saban’s achievements is dangerously delusional.

Nick Saban will not keep Alabama Football on top forever. He is mortal and his time will pass. Until then the only school in the SEC with a sane and solid enough approach to gain ground is Texas A&M. LSU, Auburn, Tennessee, Florida, even Georgia are not going to achieve any lasting success.

Auburn correctly believed a new head coach was needed. Over a few years of vacillation, they totally botched dumping Gus Malzahn. Now all they hear is no. As in no way, ‘I’ll be your head coach, under those conditions.’  And what are those conditions?  Apparently, the main one is defensive line assistant Rodney Garner must be retained. To some boosters, Kevin Steele should also be retained. Steele has done a great job at Auburn, but Garner might have the favor of boosters for other reasons. Plenty of fans from SEC schools believe Auburn’s recruiting shenanigans run through Garner.

In Baton Rouge, there might be a shortage of moving fans. Bo Pelini is out. Another one-season Bengal Tigers coach, Passing Game Coordinator, Scott Linehan is rumored to be out. Also being reported by Ross Dellenger, LSU Offensive Coordinator, Steve Emswinger will retire. One thing all three men have in common is Ed Orgeron hired them. So much for Coach O’s leadership ability. LSU assistants Bill Busch and Bill Johnson are also rumored to be leaving.

In Knoxville, COVID-19 may be saving Jeremy Pruitt’s job – for now. Once he recovers, look for Phillip Fulmer to cut him loose. In the interim, the Vols keep losing quarterbacks.

The least compelling story among the four programs is the NCAA putting Florida on probation. Dan Mullen was found failing to “promote an atmosphere of compliance.” In addition, Mullen was given an odd, one-year ‘show-cause.’ Given the Gators will undoubtedly keep him gainfully employed, the show-cause’ matters little. He will be restricted from recruiting activities for a year.

The decision-makers at the four schools should try to copy Nick Saban. Not by hiring one of his former coaches, but by learning from him how to run a football program. We’ll get them started, by passing along Lesson No. 1; there are NO shortcuts. Those All-SEC honors we wrote about earlier happened because Nick Saban has a zero-tolerance, no shortcut policy.

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Alabama football fans are ready to give full attention to winning another National Championship. Still, it is hard to look away from rivals damaging their programs.