It was only a few days ago that Alabama coach Nick Saban allowed a rare glimpse at the human being behind the stern football general, sharing a story about a girlfriend breaking up with him and the wisdom his father shared with him in the aftermath. That already seems long in the past.
Saban was back to his grouchy approach to the media following the Crimson Tide’s 27-19 win over Texas A&M Saturday night. That score was closer than many observers would have guessed. That probably includes Saban, who didn’t seem very pleased with his team’s effort. And in his view, the media that dared to praise the No. 1 ranked and undefeated Tide was at least somewhat responsible for that.
“I’m trying to get our players to listen to me instead of you guys,” Saban said to reporters during his postgame press conference. “All that stuff you write about how good we are? All that stuff they hear on ESPN? It’s like poison. Like rat poison.”
Alabama actually held a 24-3 lead over the Aggies in the third quarter, but weren’t able to put the game away, much to Saban’s aggravation. In particular, he highlighted the offense’s inability to run the ball. The Tide did compile 232 rushing yards, led by Damien Harris’s 124 yards. But 75 of those came on one play in the first quarter. Questions about that running game is what set Saban off.
“I’m asking them, ‘Are you going to listen to me or are you going to listen to these guys about how good you are?’ Just like your question right now,” Saban said. “We get stopped three out of four times, like that’s a bad thing. We’re not going to beat everybody 66-3.”
Not being able to grind out yards and run time off the clock allowed Texas A&M to get back into the game and rally to within one score with less than two minutes remaining. It’s almost as if sportswriters and broadcasters were playing defense for Alabama!
Saban’s frustration is understandable if he sees his players reading their own press clippings and watching constant praise on TV. If the coach could somehow prohibit the reading of newspapers and websites, along with watching ESPN, he surely would. Hell, maybe he’s working on that right now. Turn in your phones and televisions, gentlemen! You are sequestered for the rest of the season, just like those O.J. jurors!
Obviously, Saban is projecting his anger onto the media. And maybe that “rat poison” crack is inspired by what the coach would like to feed to those who cover his team. Would reporters and analysts be doing their jobs if they didn’t point out that Alabama has been crushing the competition and appears well on their way to yet another national championship and possibly a third consecutive clash versus Clemson for the big trophy?
At least Saban doesn’t subscribe to the “media should be PR” way of thinking if he’s mad that reporters are praising his team too much. Don’t accentuate the positive! There are flaws! These kids aren’t robots who think football 24/7. Write about that, press man!