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Oklahoma State, Ugly Uniforms, and the Latest on Nick Saban

Although I have been critical of the platform over at The FanHouse, I have always tried to support my fellow webloggers in their efforts. Accordingly, I would like to express my gratitude to Mountainlair's Johnny for directing my attention to the fine work being done at The FanHouse now that we are within 90 days of football season.

Of particular note are Jeff Adams's look at the opening weekend of Big 12 action and Brian Cook's breakdown of the worst of the worst of college football uniform atrocities. The former provides a quality synopsis of why Bulldog Nation is right to be concerned about the Cowboys and the latter confirms some of my own thoughts on what happens when good uniforms go bad.

Obligatory photographs of ugly college football uniforms from the state of Oregon.

Unfortunately, I cannot endorse everything to have appeared at The FanHouse recently, as 'Bama blogger Pete Holiday appeared to lump my Dawg Sports co-author MaconDawg in with the "malcontents, Alabama haters, and those wishing to engage in the repeated construction of large, natural elevations of the earth's surface from little more than the mounds of small burrowing mammals."

What brought this about was a Shreveport Times article by Glenn Guilbeau in which the reporter described the reaction of Georgia's coach to a remark by Nick Saban thusly:

Richt had no comment, but witnesses said he did not appear cordial and seemed angry.

Based upon this report, MaconDawg drew the following conclusion:
I have to say that if true, this was incredibly poor form.

"This," wrote Holiday of Coach Saban's reported remark, "apparently got Princess Richt's panties all askance." Holiday went on to refer to Coach Richt as "Her Royal Highness."

With all due respect to Holiday, that reaction seems a bit extreme. Coach Richt didn't get his (and, yes, he is a he) "panties all askance"; he "had no comment." Observers opined only that "he did not appear cordial and seemed angry." MaconDawg stated only that if the report was accurate---which he conceded was an "if"---it was "poor form."

It's not like we pointed out the fact that "Saban" is one letter away from "Satan."

In short, I don't think MaconDawg and I might fairly be counted among the ranks of the haters for what has appeared in this space in recent days and I trust our colleagues at Roll Bama Roll would back us up on that.

However, we in Georgia have a saying about the proper way to react when trouble undeservedly has come our way: "If you know you're going to get the electric chair anyway, you might as well go ahead and kill somebody."

Here, for the record, is the tale of the tape:

  • Mark Richt has been a college head coach for six years. Nick Saban has been a college head coach for 10 years.
  • Mark Richt has had four 10-win seasons. Nick Saban has had two 10-win seasons.
  • Mark Richt has won two conference championships. Nick Saban has won two conference championships.
  • Mark Richt has had four seasons in which his team lost fewer than three conference contests. Nick Saban has had three seasons in which his team lost fewer than three conference contests.
  • Mark Richt is 4-2 in bowl games, with the two losses coming by scores of 20-16 and 38-35. Nick Saban is 3-5 in bowl games, with the five losses coming by scores of 45-26, 38-0, 51-23, 35-20, and 30-25.
  • Mark Richt has a .782 career winning percentage (61-17). Nick Saban has a .671 career winning percentage (82-40-1).
  • Mark Richt's best season came in 2002, when his Georgia squad went 13-1, lost to Florida by seven points at a neutral site, won the S.E.C. championship game by a 27-point margin, defeated the A.C.C. champion in the Sugar Bowl by a 13-point margin, and finished the season ranked third in the Associated Press poll.
  • Nick Saban's best season came in 2003, when his Louisiana State squad went 13-1, lost to Florida by 12 points at home, won the S.E.C. championship game by a 21-point margin, defeated the Big 12 runner-up in the Sugar Bowl by a seven-point margin, and finished the season ranked second in the Associated Press poll.
  • In three head-to-head meetings between Mark Richt and Nick Saban, Coach Saban holds a 2-1 advantage in won-lost record and Coach Richt holds a 68-67 advantage in points scored.

Nick Saban is a good coach and his brusque personality probably stems from his perfectionism and his attention to detail, which doubtless account for much of his success. I respect the Alabama tradition and I cannot recall any occasion on which I have ever written or spoken disparagingly of it in anything other than an obviously joking manner; only this week, I took to task a New York Times reporter who took a cheap shot at Bear Bryant and, in one of my earliest postings at my old weblog, I wrote that Alabama had the best fans in the Southeastern Conference.

I respect Coach Saban and I do not begrudge him his recent reported remark to Coach Richt, although I share MaconDawg's rather benign assessment of it. I mean, it's not like we compared Coach Saban to Larry David . . . which, as Paul Westerdawg pointed out, Erik did. (Incidentally, Erik also made appropriately short work of the aforementioned New York Times reporter.)

That having been said, Nick Saban instills no fear in me. He is one of a half-dozen accomplished coaches in the Southeastern Conference, ranking alongside the likes of Phillip Fulmer, Urban Meyer, Mark Richt, Steve Spurrier, and Tommy Tuberville . . . but he is one of many fine coaches in a crowded pack and distinguishing among them would be an arduous task requiring analysis of numerous factors.

This seemed like a prudent point at which to lighten the mood by including a picture of Kristin Davis.

If Coach Saban sticks around Tuscaloosa for a while---which also is a big "if"---I have no doubt that he will get the better of Coach Richt some years and, in other years, Coach Richt will get the better of him. It is not at all improbable that they will face each other twice in the same season in the future.

Alabama fans should be glad that, after suffering some initial embarrassment, the Crimson Tide bagged the elephant (you should excuse the expression) by making a quality coaching hire. When he makes a smart remark that may come back to haunt him, the proper way for 'Bama fans to react is to do exactly what StuBone and Todd did: offer a rational alternative explanation in a reasonable manner, then let it go.

I will look forward to a mutually respectful clash of these past and present S.E.C. titans in Tuscaloosa on September 22.

Go 'Dawgs!