Let The Saban Hype Begin

If you had a nickel for every time that Nick Saban's name is mentioned in the states of Alabama and Louisiana over the next week you'd have as much money as, oh, Nick Saban. Or close to it, at least.

There were some big games in the Southeastern Conference Saturday, but the real hype begins this week. Alabama will host LSU in Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday in a game to determine whether Nick Saban goes to heaven or hell.

Okay, so that's not really what the game is about. It just seems that way because there is way more talk about Saban than there is about any other aspect of the game. That's because Saban went to downtrodden LSU in 2000 and transformed the Tigers into national champions. After a couple of years in professional football, Saban was lured back to college football as head coach at Alabama last January.

LSU, which owes everything it is in football today to Saban, was offended. Les Miles, who inherited an outstanding group of football players from Saban (some 17 current LSU starters are said to have been recruited by Saban), should be most grateful. Instead, the Tigers coach went on an obscenity-laced babble-rant in an anti-Alabama Saban-bashing address to LSU alumni.

But it is an important game, one that has been selected for telecast by CBS in that odd 4 p.m. CDT time slot.

Bama and the Bengal Tigers will be playing for the lead in the Southeastern Conference West Division. The winner of Saturday's game will be the heavy favorite to win the division and advance to the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta on December 1.

Both teams are 4-1 in SEC play. Alabama is in the nation's top 25 with a 6-2 overall record. LSU still has thoughts of the national championship with a 7-1 record and number three ranking.

Both the Crimson Tide and LSU had open dates Saturday.

Saban is way out in front of the hype crowd, particularly those from Louisiana. He first made complimentary overtures to LSU when he was introduced as Bama's head coach. Other than a brief "coonass" flap, taken way out of contest and overblown exponentially by the non-coonass population of Louisiana, Saban -- in stark contrast to Miles -- has continued to be most generous in his praise of all things Louisiana.

There is good reason to praise the Tigers. LSU has outstanding players. Because of a cheap shot by an Auburn player, one of the best of the Tigers -- defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey -- conceivably could miss the game. LSU, though, won't be short of talent.

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