The following is a commentary blog from FOX6 WBRC Sports Director Rick Karle:
Nick Saban makes no bones about it: One of his favorite rock bands of all time is that 70’s machine called “The Eagles.” Now seeing how I’m not much younger than the coach, I’m here to tell you that like Saban, I loved listening to Don Henley, Glenn Frey and friends (and still do). Since it’s a bit slow on the college football front, I got to thinking: What if Coach Saban’s 12 most memorable football games while head coach of the Crimson Tide were named after Eagles songs? (I told you, it’s slow.) I can’t be for certain that the following 12 games top Saban’s “most memorable” list, but they have to be in the mix.
So here we go! Forget “The Drive”, “The Block” and “The Kick Six.” Here are the Dandy Dozen presented by The Eagles:
“New Kid In Town”
You remember November 17th, 2007? The Crimson Tide lost to La-Monroe 21-14 in Saban’s first year at the Alabama helm. From that point forward, it was “never again" for the Crimson Tide. The message? They’ll never forget you ‘til somebody new comes along. After going 2-2 against non-conference regular season foes in his first year at Bama, Nick Saban has gone a combined 32-0 against regular season non-conference foes in the eight years since. Pretty strong, huh?
“Peaceful Easy Feeling”
Who can forget “The Blackout Game” of 2008? Alabama went into Athens, GA and jumped out to a 31-0 lead (so much for the black jerseys the Dawgs were wearing). While Georgia made it somewhat interesting in the second half, the Crimson Tide won 41-30. And the Dawg’s black jerseys? A voice kept whispering in their other ear, they would never see them again.
“The Long Run”
The 2009 Iron Bowl was a thriller as Greg McElroy capped off a big Bama win by connecting with Roy Upchurch late in the fourth quarter. Saban’s message as the drive began? The Tide could go the distance and they’d find out in the long run. Saban and friends remained unbeaten with a 26-21 win at Auburn.
The BCS championship game in January of 2010 saw the Crimson Tide roll over Colt McCoy and Texas in Pasadena. Let’s face it: Against that Bama team, the Longhorns could check out any time they liked but they could never leave. In fact the Horns checked out as soon as McCoy exited the game. The final? 37-21 Alabama.
Leading the 2010 Iron Bowl by 24 points wasn’t enough to slow down Cam Newton and the Auburn Tigers. As the clock ticked and the Bama lead evaporated, the Tide would suffer a 28-27 loss. There Saban stood with his little head down in his hand. It was one of two cruel defeats suffered by Saban at the hands of the team across the state, but it served only to motivate the players and coaches as they would win it all the following year.
“Take It Easy”
It was New Year’s Day of 2011, just five weeks after that Iron Bowl loss. Nick Saban would smash his former team in the Capital One Bowl. Saban’s mantra had to be to just find a place to make a stand. He did so in Orlando and beat the Sparties 49-7.
Who can ever forget it? A heavyweight fight for the ages as LSU beat Alabama in overtime 9-6 on November 5th, 2011. Saban’s pain and hunger was drivin' him home. That hunger would be quenched less than eight weeks later in the re-match.
“Take It To The Limit”
This time it was the BCS championship game on January 9th, 2012, and the Crimson Tide were coming back, running back, for more. The LSU Tigers were all alone at the end of the evening as that Bama defense led the way in a 21-0 victory. It was Saban’s third national title, second at the Capstone.
“Life In The Fast Lane”
The BCS championship game on January 7th, 2013 was a blowout from the get-go as the Crimson Tide hammered Notre Dame 42-14. This was over so early that the contest may forever be remembered for Brent Musburger gushing over Katherine Webb. Oh, you know AJ and Kate: He was a hard-headed man, he was brutally handsome, and she was terminally pretty. But the game was downright ugly, something that was just fine with the Crimson Tide nation.
"I Can’t Tell You Why”
You don’t think Alabama fans will get over this one? What do you think Nick Saban has gone through? You remember it: The Iron Bowl, November 30th, 2013 at Auburn. Saban calls for a long field goal after pleading for one second to be put back on the clock. Then? Auburn’s Chris Davis takes the missed field goal back over 100 yards to complete what, in my mind, was the most memorable ending to a football game in college football history. Before the field goal attempt Coach Saban had do be thinking, “Nothing's wrong as far as I can see, we make it harder than it has to be.” And that the Crimson Tide did as Davis ran to the promised land.
It was January 1, 2015, and the Crimson Tide had a nice lead over the Ohio State Buckeyes in a national semi-final game. And then, Ezekiel Elliott happened. Bama fans might have been thinking, “Somebody's gonna hurt someone before the night is through. Somebody's gonna come undone, there's nothin' we can do.” Well, they we correct. The Crimson Tide defense came undone while Elliott hurt the Bama team with 230 rushing yards. The final: 42-35 Ohio State.
“The Last Resort”
Nick Saban needed something to spark his team as Alabama and Clemson were tied late in second half of the national championship game in January of 2016. And man, did Saban find it in the form of an onside kick? Marlon Humphrey recovered the football. While a field goal and a Kenyan Drake return later, the Tide had a 10 point lead. Alabama beat Clemson 45-40 as Saban would win his 5th national championship, his 4th at Alabama. What was Saban thinking as he stood on the podium holding the trophy in Glendale? “Can't wait to tell you all what it's like up here. They call it paradise, the place to be.”
So there you have it: Twelve of Nick Saban’s most memorable games as Alabama’s football coach. What’s the future hold? Coach Saban’s SEC Media Days address (“Best Of My Love”), a little sparring with the media (“Get Over It”), eventual news that the coach is retiring (“Hole In The Woods”), and the news flash the following morning as the media scramble to Tuscaloosa (“Already Gone”). For now? Enjoy the sweet music of one of college football’s greatest coaches doing his thing, and think of Nick Saban’s favorite rock band the next time you peruse the history books. Oh, and me? “I Wish You Peace.”
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