Thoughts on Offensive Coordinators

I’m about to insult many of you.  Sit down, get a beverage, and compose yourself.  You are about to be insulted.

The most common knee jerk reactions to every college football game, from Princeton vs. Rutgers in 1869 to the recently-played national championship game, is to hear play calling blamed by the opposing fans.  The second such reaction to to make snide reference to or question the wisdom of the head coach’s salary.  If this sounds like you after a loss, you’re being silly.  You should stop that.  Read, repent, and be silly no more.

Ok, insults over, and back to play calling.  Really, I should more exactly say that I am talking about “offensive play calling,” because, outside of very rare, catastrophic circumstances (4th and 19 comes to mind), fans rarely question the calls coaches make on defense.  This makes sense, because, frankly, the average fan struggles to know exactly how one defensive call differs from another.  The offensive play calls, on the other hand, are clearly visible.  Even a casual fan can gather enough information to opine, “We really shouldn’t have run a quadruple reverse pass on 4th and 2,” or, “Why did we run up the middle on 4th and 2?  Where’s the quadruple reverse pass?”

That moves us to the current situation at Alabama.  Our former offensive coordinator is gone, moved on to Michigan.  To read the message boards, he was unceremoniously ushered out by an irate Saban who was, apparently, displeased that his underling called that, “Fumble and/or Throw It To Oklahoma” play four times in the Sugar Bowl.

We think that a couple of truths are obvious in this situation.  First, I have little doubt that Nussmeier was encouraged to look around (whether explicitly or, by, you know…getting to work to find Lane Kiffin in the meeting room breaking down the offense).  I have trouble, however, believing the popular notion that Saban simply wanted, “A better playcaller,” or “A more creative playcaller.”  Last year, when our offensive line resembled a personified, sweaty incarnation of Thor’s hammer, Nussmeier was bashed for getting creative against TAMU, and praised for going conservative against UGA.  He dialed up perhaps the timeliest two calls in Alabama’s championship run with the LSU Screen and the pass to Amari in the SEC Championship Game after we had all but abandoned the forward pass.

I find it easier to believe that Nick Saban, who sees the big picture on postage stamps, probably thought that Nussmeier’s overarching offensive philosophy didn’t align with what we need moving forward.  Maybe this is “going faster.”  Maybe it’s getting back to the more brutal style that we saw in 2008.  Still, college football fans generally have a tendency to tear down the statues and melt the money with the old emperor’s face after he is deposed, and to read some message boards Wednesday night, one would have believed that Doug Nussmeier was, without argument or equal, the worst offensive coordinator in the history of Alabama football.  He departs with a 24-3 record and a national championship.

I am not criticizing the decision to move on.  Saban has said before that keeping new blood running through the coaching staff is vital, and it’s obvious that the entire game is in a position of offensive evolution.  I just find the popular narrative about Nussmeier interesting.

In any event, we will be hiring a new offensive coordinator in a day or two, and then we will wait until August to see what changes he brings to the team.

And the first time we lose, we will question his play calling…guaranteed.

Craziness from the Reverend Doctor…TAMU Edition

Some of you may recall our not-very-well-thought-out alliance with a gentleman who called himself “The Reverend Doctor.”  The Doc would delight us with Alabama game wrap-ups that read like an early Tolkien story, if Tolkien had huffed a it more mustard gas in WWI and also was an opium addict.  Or maybe Beowulf if Grendel’s mother was Derek Dooley’s mom.  Who knows.  Well.  He’s back. And his website is gone.  So we’ll put it here.  Because we continue to make bad decisions.

THE BATTLE OF THE LONE STAR
by the Reverend Doctor

It was in the Seventh Year of the Reign of the Dark Lord, and lo, his foes still shook in fear, as their soothsayers and seers had told them, “Worry not, for the Dark Lord tarries not.  He shall depart from the Promised Lands before three winters’ snows fall.”  But he Dark Lord had not departed, and ye, he had built for himself a mighty palace, and in its bowels he filled with many mighty men, and like the very Mountains of the East, waterfalls cascaded in its halls.  And her he made his seat of power, and he called to sundry warriors of valor and strength, and they came to him.

It is said that in the sixth year of The Reign, the Dark Lord’s army marched hither and thither, conquering many lands and besting many foes, and they were ultimately recognized as all-conquering, and the kings and queens of all the land laid at their feet mystical crystals and rings of great worth, and they were deemed Champion of all the land which their eyes surveyed.  But along this path, the Army Triumphant had skirmished with a force from west of the Great River, new as a foe and known not in the Promised Land, led by a general who the elders of the day saw and called, “magic.”  Free were his ways, and off the field of battle he knew many pleasures, for his wealth was great and his conscience willing, and verily peddlers would come to him and give him gold and silver for his very seal.  And in his land, upon which flag a Lone Star was borne, he was called a hero, though many throughout other lands despised him for his talent and his wealth.  For the elders say that such a mighty man was he, that he could take strong drink upon a Friday night and upon Saturday morn, no greater solider could overcome him.  And this mighty soldier met with the Dark Lord’s Army, and they fought, and lo, the Army of the Lone Star had the mastery.  And though the Army Triumphant would tend their wounds meet victory in the end, their sleep was troubled with dreams of this soldier who had bested them.

And so it was that the Seventh Year began, and the Great Saban called to him his Princes, and his Captains, and his Generals, and his Jesters, and his Cooks, and his Horse Tenders, and his Beastmen, and his Courtiers, and all his Army Triumphant, and he said, “Make ready to march, for great shame has this man brought to us.  Such a man is he that he sells his seal like a bag of grain, yet he holds over us the mastery?  This cannot stand.”  And one of the Princes there assembled said, “Oh Great Saban, whose anger knows no bound nor condition, why do we seek conflict with this man with whom we see no quarrel?”  And Saban spake, “The weak man sees quarrel and says, ‘I do not wish conflict.’  The strong man sees no quarrel and says, ‘This will not do.’”  And all assembled looked at one another, for they were confused, but they dared not seek clarification.  And so the Dark Lord’s orders were heeded, and the Army made ready to mach far to the West.

But many under the Flag of the Lone Star heard of their coming, and many of their number assembled, and many great men from other lands too came, some hoping to see a grand battle, others hoping to see the Dark Lord’s final demise.  And it came to pass that Dark Lord brought the Army to a great open field, and there they met the mighty soldier who had bested them again.

It is said that, at first, the mighty soldier was so furious in anger (for he took not insult well) that he launched an assault upon the Army Triumphant of which they had never seen the like.  And their defenses crumbled, and the Dark Lord had to descend from his throne (carried by 15 strong lads) and rally his force to him.  And he came before the fleeing soldiers, and he spake, “Fly not away, for the wrath that awaits ye on the field of battle compares not to the wrath of my hand.”  And their very blood ran cold, and they proceeded back to the battlefield.  And Saban took aside his greatest field general, an honorable man who had won many battles, and upon whose chest bore proof of his madness, and Saban spake, “You must bring us victory today.”  And it was so.

For the field general led his division onto the field, and no matter how much the Army was attacked by that Mighty Soldier of the West, the Army of Saban repelled him.  And they crushed the Lone Star defenses, and laid waste to their barricades, and they frightened their hounds, and they saw onlookers in military garb, and they said, “Come down from your high places and face us!” But those within ear shot turned and ran from the wrath before them.

And the battle waged on until the bitter evening, and helmet cleaved and shield shattered, ended finally, and the Dark Lord, this time, had the mastery. And though the mighty solider’s seal may be worth countless chests of silver and gold and jewels of worth, the Army Triumphant marched back to the Promised Land with the crown of victory on their brow.

Random Thoughts On Footed Ball

If A’Shawn Robinson was a Little League pitcher, I’d want to check his birth certificate.

I wonder if Nick Saban takes the trash out, or if he just recycles it into pure hatred with his mind.

Does a higher power love me enough to present a situation where Auburn actually has to play Kiehl Frazier at safety?

Fox’s new college football Gameday ripoff makes no sense…until you recall that these are the people that added Frank Caliendo as an integral part of their NFL coverage.

Virginia Tech’s recent injury outbreak: bad luck, or wisely timed self-preservation?

When the season starts, I’m still like a month away from a stadium dog.

Speaking of that, someone let me know if you know the recipe for that stadium dog sauce.

If I could have any job in the world…

It would be Alabama scrimmage stat-maker upper.

SABAN:  Call in the stat maker upper.  We have work to do.

Me:  Stat maker upper, reporting for duty, sir.

SABAN (scowling):  These DB’s are getting a little full of themselves.  You know what to do.

Me:  Yessir.  Anything else?

Saban:  Give some random player a career day.

Me:  Just to troll the people who think that scrimmage stats are meaningful, sir?

Saban:  Why else, idiot?

Me:  Good point, sir…

SCRIMMAGE RESULTS:

McCarron, AJ:  29 of 31 for 381 yards and 7 TDs.
Reed, Ty:  13 Receptions for 171 yards and 3 TDs.