Unless you’ve got a real talent for it, I don’t think it’s good form, generally, for a blogger to quote, respond to, and/or mock random message board posters or thread-commenters out there on the Interwebs. There is low-hanging fruit, and then there is, say, the al.com comment threads, where the fruit positively hurls itself at you, with terrifying ferocity, as you meekly scroll by. These are not the sorts of fruit a self-respecting blogger ought to be picking.
But today I’m going to quote this Tidefans.com post* I picked up off the Twitters a while back, because it’s such a perfect example of a much, much larger and persistent trend amongst the Tide faithful:
Little Sister can’t keep Big Brother out of anything, not they’re Interviews, Practices, Speeches, etc. Can you say obsessive? I can’t recall Coach Saban ever really comparing what we do to something other schools are doing. It’s all about OUR program with Coach.
Ah yes, the age-old “Auburn is obsessed with Alabama; Alabama doesn’t care about Auburn” fallacy. A classic, one of the truly time-tested and FDA-approved methods of Tide elitism, maybe just one rung on the ladder beneath arguing that learning to save animals’ lives is a lesser calling than corporate lawyerdom. It’s a fallacy that’s taken all sorts of specific forms over the years, with the “Coach Saban doesn’t care about Auburn’s recruiting strategies/Malzahn’s high school offense/anything Auburn-related at all” variety a relatively new one.
What’s hysterical about this line of thinking is that the Tide’s resident coachbot was talking about Auburn in his very first press conference:
The second thing was, work every day to dominate your opponent. You know, we have an opponent in this state that we work every day, 365 days a year, to dominate. That’s our goal.
I’m sure he was talking about Troy. Exhibit B:
Don’t you know how much I hate these [bleeping] guys?
The defense could just rest its case here, but at the start of this month we got a piece of evidence even bigger, really, than either of the above quotes: Alabama re-scheduling its game against Georgia State to Thursday. Actions, words, the comparative loudness thereof, etc.
“But wait,” the Tide fans says. “Coach Saban’s not that concerned with Auburn. He just doesn’t want to go into any more games where the opponent has a bye week and we don’t, especially when the game’s on a Friday.” This is almost a valid point, except that Georgia St. is already a bye no matter what night it’s played on. They make last year’s date with Chattanooga** look like the Tide’s date with Texas. The Panthers are the single worst opponent Alabama could have possibly scheduled.
It’s worth repeating that: Georgia State is the single worst opponent out of all possible opponents Alabama could have scheduled. FBS teams can’t schedule D-II teams (or at least, I have yet to see them try), so the easiest possible opponent is an FCS team that’s in its first year, starting from scratch, still without its full compliment of scholarship players. We’ll see, but it’s my guess the majority of D-II squads could handle GSU this year. You tell me: would no one care if Alabama scheduled West Alabama or Tuskegee? Would no one laugh at them if they moved their game against West Alabama because they thought it would hinder their efforts the following week against Auburn?
I can accept the Tide’s argument that a game against even a run-of-the-mill FCS opponent isn’t quite the same as a bye, since there’s a certain amount of energy expended–even if it ain’t much–on going through the gameday motions, giving yourself that tiny bit of emotional spark, letting the starters get hit a time or two just to make the effort of getting to the stadium worth their while. But that doesn’t hold true for 2010 Georgia St. Alabama could literally rest their entire two-deep, play with nothing but third-stringers and walk-ons, and they’d win by 30.
So why don’t they? Well, they might anyway. But why not do it on Saturday? Because, just like Auburn, they don’t want to take any chances with the Iron Bowl. They want every advantage they can possibly get. They want to give themselves the very best chance of winning available, short of waiting ’til Week 11 to burn their bye. They picked “Georgia St. on a Thursday night” instead–the very closest match-up to “bye” out of all possible match-ups.
And yet some fans would have you believe that the coach who’s helped engineer that decision and has repeatedly made it clear how badly he wants to win against the opponent that motivated that decision harbors no particular grudge or extra desire against that opponent. Right. Sure.
BONUS Tide scheduling commentary! As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t begrudge Tide fans their complaints about so many teams having a bye the week before facing their team. I wouldn’t like it if Auburn was in the same boat. But I do begrudge them the occasional whinge I’ve seen about how no one would alter their schedule to accommodate them, seeing as how the chances Alabama would have changed their schedule this late in the day for anyone else are perfectly equivalent to Georgia St.’s chances of winning in Bryant-Denny. Take it up with the league, fellas.
Besides, it’s not like this year’s Tide are the first team to have to run through that kind of gauntlet. Will Collier wrote me an e-mail a while back:
[B]ack in 1983, Auburn played what’s generally considered the most difficult schedule in SEC history (IMO certainly the most difficult season anybody’s ever successfully navigated). The first 10 games, 7 of which featured eventual bowl teams [back when not every Tom, Dick, and Middle Tennessee State were invited to bowl games–ed.], were played without a break, and about 7 in a row of those first 10 teams had open dates before they played AU (I need to check the highlight film to confirm that number; Dye mentioned it in his post-game comments after the Georgia game).
I figured I’d double check Will’s memory. Here’s a breakdown of Auburn’s 1983 schedule:
Week 1: W 24-3 vs. Southern Miss. Finished 7-4.
Week 2: L 7-20 vs. No. 3 Texas, off bye week. Finished regular season 11-0, SWC champs, ranked No. 2, played Cotton Bowl, final ranking No. 5.
Week 3: W 37-14 at Tennessee, off bye week. Finished 8-3, t-3rd SEC (4-2), Citrus Bowl champs.
Week 4: W 27-24 vs. No. 17 Florida St., off bye week. Finished 6-5, Peach Bowl champions.
Week 5: W 49-21 at Kentucky, off bye week. Finished 6-4-1, played All-American Bowl.
Week 6: W 31-13 at Georgia Tech. Finished 3-8.
Week 7: W 28-13 vs. Mississippi St. Finished 3-8
Week 8: W 28-21 vs. No. 5 Florida. Finished 8-2-1, t-3rd SEC (4-2), No. 11, Gator Bowl champions, final ranking No. 6.
Week 9: W 35-23 vs. No. 7 Maryland. Finished 8-3, ACC champions, No. 17, played Citrus Bowl.
Week 10: W 13-7 at No. 4 Georgia. Finished 9-1-1, 2nd SEC (5-1), No. 7, Cotton Bowl champs, final ranking No. 4.
Week 11: W 23-20 vs. No. 19 Alabama (at Legion Field). Finished 7-4, t-3rd SEC (4-2), Sun Bowl champs, final ranking No. 15.
Sugar Bowl: W 9-7 vs. No. 8 Michigan. Finished 9-2, 2nd Big Ten (8-1)***, final ranking No. 8.
So, if you’re keeping track, Will’s memory was a touch faulty: there were only four bye-taking opponents in a row. Of course, all four of which went on to bowls, two of which were ranked, two of which were on the road, two of which finished with nine of more wins in a total 12-game schedule. As a whole over those first 10 bye-less weeks, Auburn did indeed face 7 bowl teams, as well as 5 ranked teams, half of the AP’s final top 6, two league champions and the SEC runner-up, and eight winning teams. Add in Michigan and Alabama, and the numbers rise to 9 bowl teams, 7 ranked teams, half of the AP’s final top 8 (or 4 of 7 Auburn could have played, being one of those teams themselves), two league champions and two runners-up, and 10 winning teams in 12 games.
And the defending national champions are moving Georgia State to Thursday.
*I strongly discourage Auburn fans, or really any sentient, self-aware beings, from bothering to read the thread.
**If Auburn gained the tiniest shred of a “wear-and-tear” advantage out of their bye vs. the Tide’s FCS scrimmage, it’s worth reminding the Tide faithful that they didn’t in terms of the supposedly-precious “preparation” that led to Auburn’s 14-0 lead and defensive success. Unless you think, of course, that Saban and his staff spent the week ahead of the UTC game diligently breaking down film and scout-teaming the Mocs. That makes a lot of sense.
***Just find it interesting that the Big Ten was playing three more conference games than the SEC at the time. And that since then they’ve reduced their conference games by one while the SEC has increased theirs by two.
Wow, had there been internet in 1983, I would probably have been whining about that schedule.
Look at that non-conference schedule though!! Texas, Maryland (a good team then), Georgia Tech, Southern Miss, and Florida State?! That’s completely and utterly ridonkulous.
Yeah, serious explanation is needed on why that team didn’t win the national championship. I know most of the story, but it’s still ridiculous that they didn’t win it.
And the truth shall set you free…
OK, I’ll take the bait.
1) This Tide fan cares a LOT about beating Auburn (football, baseball, basketball, golf, tiddlewinks, whatever). About what Auburn is doing otherwise when they’re not playing us, more of a mild interest at most.
2) A helmet to the knee from an FCS player is just as damaging as one from a noted FBS cheap shot artist like your Mr. Pugh. Still a violent game, subject to fluke injuries. It’s not the same as a bye week no matter who you play.
3) Interesting how some people find your 83 schedule facing 2 conference opponents coming off a bye to be the same as the 5 (not counting the double bye LSU game) Bama faces this year.
4) Bama held Auburn below season average output on offense last year in every meaningful category. Auburn had exactly one scoring drive, and that was on the short field following the onside kick. The thing that made the game closer than most expected (I remember the bunnies) was the incredible performance of the Auburn defense, which deserves and gets a hat tip from me.
5) I would argue that the thing that hindered Bama’s performance last year the most was not playing UTC the week before while Auburn had a bye, but already looking ahead to playing Florida the next week…largely from looking back to 36-0 the year before. I think it got in their heads, and nearly cost Bama the perfect season and a title shot.
6) The only good thing about playing Georgia State (I wish we wouldn’t) is the opportunity to hang a beating on the sanctimonious jerk that’s coaching them. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving person.
Heard this on the radio yesterday from Evan Woodbery on the Johnny “Ballpark”Franks show here in Huntsville.
SEVEN Auburn opponents play FCS teams the week before they play Auburn. Those are Clemson, South Carolina, ULM, LSU, Chattanooga*, Georgia, and Alabama. You don’t see us whining about the damn schedule do you?
*counting the ‘noog is cheap, I’ll admit, but Evan’s the one that said seven, so i looked it up this morning. That’s the only way to get to 7.
Rowdy Cowboy says
Well let’s just say what most people think about the University of Alabama. Its football pursuits justify its identity with an uneducated backward population and symbolic link to the Lost Cause. It is truly ironic that the exploitation of a less-powerful racial group serves to inoculate the U of Alabama from pressure to improve the state or to stimulate change. Football “success” has stalled its transformation into a modern university with intellectual, aesthetic or humanistic concerns. The state of Alabama may be last in a lot of things but Bama fans can cite to the world that it is first in football.
Also the University of Alabama’s misplaced priorities (football fluff over economic substance) harm the state’s growth and development as the Crimson Tide football team is outlet for the lunatic fringe and a venue for them to be recognized. Too often though the holy crusade of Bama football acts as an umbrella under which the range of political and social opinion is from Y to Z. Thus when a university simply reflects the attitudes of its football fans….. It is no longer a university in the true meaning of the word.
The NCAA would actually be doing the University of Alabama a favor by handing down a ‘Death Penalty’ for its football team. It will be only then that its faculty, alumni and students will appreciate the scholarship and learning that mark a university with intellectual fiber and integrity. Until then Auburn will have to carry the burden alone of feeding, clothing, housing, protecting and healing the citizens of Alabama.
Thank God for Auburn!
Much like a train wreck, I couldn’t resist looking at the thread on tidefans. I would like that 5 minutes of my life back please.
Re: ’83, after that schedule, they deserved a share.
Watchman, thanks for the fairly reasoned response. In re-response to certain points …
2) But it ought to be a bye week for the starters. There’s no need to play anyone who contributes a lick against a Georgia St., and there wasn’t any need to play McElroy, Ingram, etc., against UTC last year. Is it the exact same as a bye week? No. But it’s the functional equivalent, or should be.
Also, Mr. Pugh has nothing to do with this discussion. No troll-worthy red herrings, please.
3) Texas and Florida St. that season weren’t as good as the bottom half of this year’s SEC West? C’mon. Maybe weighing the bye-week disadvantage of ’83 Auburn against the bye-week disadvantage of ’10 Alabama has the Tide ahead by a slim margin–maybe–but there’s no comparison between the overall schedules. The point is the same: ’83 Auburn had an absolutely brutal schedule and proved themselves a great team by (mostly) conquering it. If this year’s Alabama team is really that good, they should suck it up and do the same.
4) Yes, but Auburn also went well above the Tide defense’s season averages for yards, yards-per-play, etc. allowed. And it’s not like the long plays by Zachery and Adams don’t count for some reason because it took Auburn just one play to score. I’ll agree that the biggest reason for the tightness of the game was Auburn’s heroic defensive effort, but the offense wasn’t half-bad, either. To be honest, I’m not sure what point in my post you’re responding to, though.
5) No argument there. I think the players had Florida in mind for a while.
6) Fair enough. I will say that I’ve seen more than one ‘Bama fan say both that they wish the game hadn’t been scheduled and that it hadn’t been moved from Saturday. It’s not unanimous.
Cowboy, I can’t tell whether your comment is satire, sincere, or some combination of the two. I’ll leave it up, but I’m not touching its content with a ten-foot pole.
Mark, can’t say you weren’t warned, man.
Alex P in Smyrna G says
“6) The only good thing about playing Georgia State (I wish we wouldn’t) is the opportunity to hang a beating on the sanctimonious jerk that’s coaching them. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving person.”
Aside from losing to Auburn, WTF did Bill Curry ever do to Alabama? He won a lot of games there.
Bill Curry is a saint
/looks at cfbdatawarehouse for the 100000th time
/says “Gahd I lahve thaht” like Ackroyd in Tommy Boy
“Texas and Florida St. that season weren’t as good as the bottom half of this year’s SEC West? C’mon.”
I think you missed what I took to be his point – that it was 2 CONFERENCE opponents that had bye weeks in ’83. The SEC had no control over Texas and FSU’s schedule, so the unfairness of 6 SEC teams being allowed to have bye weeks before Bama in ’10 is much greater than the SEC allowing 2 SEC teams byes before AU in ’83.
Alex, you’d have to ask a Tide fan to be sure, but I think Curry’s portrayal of ‘Bama fans and administrators following his departure and during his TV career wasn’t always flattering.
promeco, that makes sense. Doesn’t change the SOS issue, but unfairness-wise, OK.
Great points WBE! If you throw in the fact that saban wanted to play 11 straight games before taking his bye week against AU in 2008 to end the streak, I’d say he cares big time,…bammers conveniently forget that one, especially with all the talk about AU’s bye week this year. Frankly, I was surprised when he pointed to that game specifically when he was griping about the situation in the interview. You know considering how bama fans say AU is irrelavant and all. So irrelevant that as Alex pointed out Curry won a lot of games but essentially couldn’t beat Auburn. So they fired him. War Eagle.
Not to split hairs bigdawg, but I don’t believe Curry was actually fired. He just wasn’t really asked to stay when Kentucky offered
Joe Blow says
That isn’t exectly true either. Bama tried to renew his contract, but did not include a raise and tried to strip him of his ability to hire/fire assistants, so he left for greener pastures.
in any case, let’s all agree that Nick Saban can suck it.
Will Collier says
Bill Curry was 3-0 against Tennessee, 2-1 against LSU, and 0-3 against Auburn. There’s no doubt that the new contract offered by Hootie Ingram in January of 1990 was intended from the jump to push him out the door.
Joe Blow says
Will, I agree 100%.
If you hand your athletic department over to a man named “Hootie,” you get what you deserve, amirite?
BTW, Will, another thanks for the e-mail that triggered the last section.
One more thing – there are some names on that ’83 schedule, but if you go back and look (http://jhowell.net/cf/scores/Auburn.htm#1983), that was a 7-5 FSU team that lost to a 4-7 Tulane team (as did Southern Miss) and survived East Carolina (!) 47-46; and a 3-8 Ga. Tech team that lost to I-AA Furman and to 3-8 Duke.
I’ll give you Texas and Maryland (crab cakes and FOOTBALL!), but it wasn’t exactly the murderer’s row that it may appear from a quick glance.