Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Great Speakers of History react to the U-LM loss (seriousness also attached)

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war, a field not unlike the echoing green of the famed Bryant-Denny Stadium of Tuscaloosa, where like-minded men have also endured great suffering and great sacrifice for their noble cause. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this, for just as the Red Elephants gave their sweat and tears to avoid the indignity of falling to a Sun Belt team and to preserve their bowl eligibility, so the brave soldiers fallen here have helped to preserve this nation, that unlike Alabama's national ranking it shall not perish from the earth."

"Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives: yesterday, December 7th, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. It was an attack without precedent in our nation's history, save for the attack on the University of Alabama football executed by the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks, who like the Japanese are believed to have deliberately planned their forays into vulnerable Crimson Tide territory many weeks ago. That day, too, shall live in infamy ... With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounding determination of our people so like the unbending steel will of wounded coach Nick Saban and his valiant men - we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God, and Bear Bryant."

"The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. Unless, of course, we consider the college football field of human conflict, where so much has been owed by so many to John Parker Wilson. All hearts go out to the fighter pilots, whose brilliant actions we see with our own eyes day after day, and to Alabama fans, who can only pray that the accuracy of Wilson's passes can again rise to match the precision of our RAF bombers."

All right, I think you get the point. Well, the "Nick Saban should maybe choose his metaphors just a touch more carefully" point. It's not a tough one to make.

But there's a larger point here, too. I honestly think we maybe shouldn't be too hard on Saban for the slip itself, I really don't; his general "it's possible to recover from catastrophe" argument is certainly a valid (and necessary) one, for all the inappropriateness he used to make said argument.

The bigger question is how Saban arrived at such a stark, stunning moment of insensitivity. Whatever 21-14 to ULM might suggest (dammit, no glee, it's impossible) King Crimson is no idiot. He's more than sharp enough to figure out that a direct comparison between a football game and 9-11 isn't exactly going to do wonders for his personal image, if he'd just stop and think about it for a minute. But Nick Saban, as we all know, doesn't have time for that shit.

Of course, most of us--even most college football coaches, never the most self-censoring bunch--probably don't even need the time, thanks to that same little voice that stops us with our mouth open just before we say something along the lines of "Honey, are you sure you should really finish that whole thing of fries?" Where was that voice for Saban Monday? Maybe it was just had the day off, but it's fair to say that voice gets a lot sharper with actual, friendly human interaction ... and it's also fair to say King Crimson doesn't really get a lot of actual friendly human interaction (particularly during football season, I'd imagine). Is it really surprising that a man so focused on football, so utterly uninterested in basic workplace decency that he can't even take a casual compliment on his haircut without flying into NO TIME FOR THIS SHIT apoplexy, might not have the keenest sense of what's appropriate, inoffensive public discourse and what's not?

I know, I know, for starters this is all so Dr. Phil (I'd prefer to think of it as all so Free Darko, but it's a valid complaint). And more importantly, what exactly does this have to do with this week's Iron Bowl?

It has to do with why I want this one, dammit. I don't like Nick Saban. But I like even less what he represents: the college football coach as heartless, personality-less coaching automaton, and the fervent embrace of said automatons as long as they win. I think college football is better for the Spurriers and Leaches and Evil Richts, better for fun so intense it has to be italicized, and worse for the dour NFL retreads like Gailey and Groh that have turned the ACC into most boring conference in America. And Alabama has hired and brought into the SEC's merry midst not just an NFL coach but a disciple of Bill Belichick, the most ruthless and soulless automaton of them all, a man with all the personality and stainless-steel efficiency of an expensive kitchen knife. Is anyone at Alabama going to care about this? A few, possibly. But as long as the wins begin piling up and promised, it will be very, very few indeed. The four-million-dollar man is the walking avatar of winning at all costs, and he is not the direction I want college football to take.

So: I want Auburn to beat Alabama every year. But this season, in the immediate wake of the Tide's decision to take this sport ever closer to the NFL, ever further away from the color and idiosyncrasy and, yep, fun that make this sport great, into a place so insulated and removed from reality their coach sees a loss as a parallel to Pearl Harbor "or whatever"? It's not just a win, not just the Index Finger on the Opposite Hand. It's the punishment Alabama deserves.


d761 said...

Standing O. Great post.

I have never, ever been a "just beat bama" fan. If we were promised 3 SECC every 5 years with a loss to bama every year, I would take it in a heartbeat.

But, this year is different. This year, I find myself almost agreeing with Brodie Croyle, (to paraphrase) that it's okay to go 1-10, so long as that 1 win is over bama.

As to Saban, he's a "football coach". In his world, that does not include interaction with the media, snarls and disdain notwithstanding. With an AU win this year, the wheels may come off much, much sooner than I expected. THAT is why this year is so important. Perestroika is about to come to bama, and all AU has to do...oh...wait...that's a terribly silly metaphor. Sorry.

John G. said...

Thanks for getting Free Darko back on my favorites list. Somehow this southern boy from Cobbs Ford is a huge NBA fan, and Free Darko sure makes that world more interesting. Always some great story lines, just like SEC football.