We may know in a few days, in the aftermath of the game cleverly dubbed "The Saban Bowl."
Oooooooh, the extreme sense of betrayal visited upon
So what can you say? That Nick Saban is not trust-worthy? He's dishonest?
And how would that make him markedly different from other coaches, many of whom which will say and do almost anything to gain any kind of edge? One of the most famous refrains in Tiger history is Paul Dietzel's pronouncement, "I'll never leave LSU," months before he left LSU for Army. Then, with rumors of him abandoning Ole Miss for
Saban may be transparently deceptive, but, let's face it, it's an occupational trait.
But now LSU and
Of course, what LSU fans are really upset about is not Saban returning to college football, it was returning to the SEC West where they fear he will do for the Crimson Tide what he did for the Tigers: revive a slumbering football giant.
Would any LSU fan unhappy in one job not accept another more to their liking, which is what Saban did? Would any one of them have turned down $4 million a year to coach the rival Tide – no matter how much they love the Tigers?
The answer to both, without fear of contradiction, is absolutely not!
The biggest question about Saban is not his return to college coaching, but how quickly he ran up the white flag at
When Saban arrived at LSU in 2000, there was no doubt eventually he was going to coach in the NFL. It was an itch he had to scratch, and everyone knew it. LSU was a temporary stop for Saban – and he loved the courting by pro teams almost annually. Then Saban got the
Then, as soon as there was a prominent job opening, Saban beat a hasty retreat back to college football. Anyone who's spent any significant time around Saban, and his massive ego, immediately recognized this as a capitulation of monumental proportions.
Let's not forget, though, Saban deserves much credit for LSU's current standing as a member of the sports elite. He galvanized the Tiger fan base, and he took a talented program and gave it what it most needed – discipline. But this, along with his 2003 national championship team, may be Saban's most lasting Tiger legacy: He was the moving force behind LSU's excellent academic center. Athletes that couldn't be counted on in the past because of classroom shortcomings are now making their grades – and big plays.
LSU owes Saban a lot. He owes LSU nothing – except maybe an apology for bad manners.
Saban always seemed to have an attitude that he invented football at LSU, always questioning – and dismissing – whatever happened before his arrival. He even tried to take credit for Les Miles' later success, pointing out smugly to the
That works two ways. Saban is winning now with Mike Shula's players, at a program that racked up 10 victories two years ago. His Tiger predecessor Gerry DiNardo, whose first three seasons were equally as impressive as Saban's, brought in the athletes that would win the first of Saban's two SEC championships at LSU in 2001, a little fact he never acknowledged.
In fact, for all his posturing in
In reality, LSU didn't play many softer defenses.
This is the recurring report on Saban at LSU, though it's hard to make college football fans believe it: They all think he was undefeated every year, but in four of his five seasons at LSU, Saban's teams lost a minimum of three games.
Take my word for it.
It's the unfairness of myth-making, but the very first time Miles loses three games at LSU, those reasonable Tiger fans will want to run him all the way out of
That's part of what Saban left behind at LSU, too.
Marty Mule' can be reached at MJM981@Bellsouth.net.