BATON ROUGE – So, why was Alabama coach Nick Saban so aggravated at offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin in the final, meaningless moments of a 38-10 win over Western Kentucky on Saturday that he nearly threw his headphones at him?
Why? Because he’s the best. That’s why. And that’s why he’s the best.
It is why Saban chewed out LSU cornerback Travis Daniels in the final, meaningless moments of the Tigers' 41-6 win at Mississippi State in 2003. Not meaningless to Saban, though. On the next play, Daniels defended a pass the right way in front of Saban, and he high-fived Daniels.
There may be future high fives between Saban and Kiffin, particularly if Alabama’s opponent does not turn a late fumble into a touchdown as Western Kentucky did. And if the Tide can muster more than just 3.2 yards a carry as it did against Western Kentucky. Its 124 yards on 39 carries was its third worst rushing performance in the Saban era at Alabama.
“That’s bad football,” he said. “That’s not the kind of football we want to play here.”
When asked what he and Kiffin were arguing about on the sidelines, Saban correctly corrected the questioner.
“There were no arguments,” he said. “Those are called ass-chewings.”
And he was right because Kiffin didn’t say a word during Saban’s tirade. Each party has to be participating for there to be an argument. Much like each team has to win here and there for there to be a rivalry. Alabama and Tennessee have not had a rivalry in many moons as the Tide has won the last nine straight.
There were no rivalry games over that era. Those were ass-chewings.
It should be noted that the Tigers and Daniels lost their next game in 2003, 19-7 to Florida, but they did go on to win the national championship, and Daniels – an OK prospect out of the Miami area – went on to play eight years in the NFL.
It also should be noted that No. 1 Alabama plays at No. 17 Ole Miss Saturday (2:30 p.m., CBS) and may need to run the ball better and not fumble once if it plans on avoiding a third straight loss to the Rebels. That may have been why Saban was angry as hell as well. He was already in the next game, and his offensive line – which lost two starters – has been suspect. It allowed two sacks to Western Kentucky.
“To me, it’s the basic, fundamental execution that we need to improve up front,” he said Wednesday on the Southeastern Conference teleconference. “Whether it is steps, footwork, hand placement, finishing blocks, making the right line calls so we give ourselves the best chance. Pass protection will be critical against this group of pass rushers they have. So this is going to be a real test for this group.”
SATAN TO FREEZE OVER? If Ole Miss defeats Alabama Saturday, Rebels’ coach Hugh Freeze will become the first coach to beat Tide coach Nick Saban three times in three seasons since Purdue coach Joe Tiller did it from 1997-99 when Saban was Michigan State’s coach.
After 22-21 and 25-24 wins in 1997 and ’98 in his first two seasons at Purdue, that third win was a charm for Tiller, who brought the Spread offense to the Big Ten with a quarterback named Drew Brees. In 1999, the No. 20 Boilermakers upset the undefeated No. 5 Spartans and Saban’s top-ranked rush defense, 52-28, with the spread passing attack – Saban’s Achilles heel - more than two decades before Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel did it. Brees completed 23 of 33 passes for 344 yards and five touchdowns in the first half alone for a 35-14 lead before finishing 40 of 57 for 509 yards.
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr also beat Saban and Michigan State three straight times before Tiller. After losing 28-25 to Saban in 1995, Carr’s Wolverines beat Saban’s Spartans 45-29 in 1996, 23-7 in ’97 and 29-17 in 1998.
Only two other coaches have beaten Saban three times – retired Steve Spurrier and LSU coach Les Miles. Spurrier as Florida’s coach beat Saban as LSU’s coach twice in a row in 2000 and ’01 by "Spread" scores of 41-9 and 44-15. After losing to Saban at Alabama as South Carolina’s coach by 20-6 in 2009, Spurrier finished 3-1 all time against Saban with a 35-21 win in 2010.
Miles won three of his first five games against Saban from 2007-11, but has lost his last five straight, though two were by a combined 11 points.
GUILBEAU SEC POLL: 1. Alabama (2-0). 2. Texas A&M (2-0). 3. Arkansas (2-0). 4. Florida (2-0, 1-0 SEC). 5. Tennessee (2-0). 6. Georgia (2-0). 7. Ole Miss (1-1). 8. LSU (1-1). 9. Auburn (1-1). 10. Mississippi State (1-1, 1-0). 11. South Carolina (1-1, 1-1). 12. Missouri (1-1). 13. Vanderbilt (1-1, 0-1). 14. Kentucky (0-2, 0-1).
SATURDAY SEC GAMES: Ohio (1-1) at No. 15 Tennessee (2-0), 11 a.m., SEC Network; Vanderbilt at Georgia Tech (2-0), 11:30 a.m., ACC Network; No. 1 Alabama at No. 17 Ole Miss, 2:30 p.m., CBS; East Carolina (2-0) at South Carolina, 3 p.m., SEC Network; New Mexico State (1-1) at Kentucky, 3 p.m., SEC Network; Mississippi State at No. 22 LSU, 6 p.m., ESPN2; No. 20 Texas A&M at Auburn, 6 p.m., ESPN; North Texas (1-1) at No. 23 Florida, 6:30 p.m., ESPNU; No. 13 Georgia at Missouri, 6:30 p.m., SEC Network; Texas State (1-0) at No. 24 Arkansas, 6:30 p.m., SEC Network.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “No, it was just exactly the same offense we’ve been running for as long as I can remember.”
---LSU coach Les Miles when asked if he and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron changed the offense for quarterback Danny Etling when he replaced starter Brandon Harris in the second quarter Saturday and led the Tigers from a 6-0 deficit to a 34-13 victory.
Tell us about it, Les, tell us about it.
(© 2016 WWL)