COMMENTARY: Fallout from SabanBowl I

Now four days later, re-visits Saban Bowl I.

Fans on both sides of the fence had been waiting for Nov. 3, 2007. Ever since Nick Saban was named head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide way back on Jan. 4 of this year, Saturday had been circled on calendars everywhere in both crimson and purple ink.

A war of words commenced through the interim as Saban paraded around the state of Alabama and beyond taking credit for the past two years of Les Miles' handiwork.

Miles didn't do himself any favors voicing his displeasure for the color red as well as the Alabama program itself.

But as the game grew closer, the hype grew exponentially. However, both Saban and Miles remained mum on their involvement in the game.

"It was all about the players," said both coaches many times the past two weeks prior to the game.

While talk radio shows and Internet message boards throughout the SEC raged on with the Miles vs. Saban debate, once game day arrived in Tuscaloosa, surprisingly, the atmosphere was one not much different from a regular Alabama home game.

Sure, there were many more people and the game day traffic was horrendous, but aside from many brightly colored and craftily worded t-shirts describing each team's head coach, the setting resembled the typical LSU-Alabama annual clash.

The game was far from typical, however, as penalties, miscues, mistakes and turnovers plagued the Tigers most of the evening. LSU outgained Alabama by more than 200 yards and led 17-3 early in the second quarter, yet it needed the benefit of 14 points in the final three minutes for a come-from-behind win over the Tide, 41-34.

But it doesn't matter how LSU won, as long as they did. And with Boston College's loss to Florida State Saturday night, the Tigers bumped up to the No. 2 slot in the BCS standings and if they win the rest of their games will play for the national title.

Saban was gracious in defeat, complimenting his former players for the victory. He said it was like playing against family considering the fact he recruited and signed several of the LSU starters.

Miles was complimentary of the way the Crimson Tide performed, and he stressed the fact that he wasn't happy with the way LSU played aside from the fact that the Tigers came out with the win.

Birmingham News columnist Kevin Scarbinsky wrote last week that this game was a lose-lose situation for Miles. Scarbinsky said it didn't matter whether Miles won or lost the game. If he lost, Saban would be lauded as the better coach; if Miles won the game, Saban would be given the credit because Miles won with his players.

Miles said time and again he didn't care about getting credit; that the credit goes to the players. But as Scarbinsky predicted, Sunday's headlines were flooded with praise for Saban and how he led an undermanned Alabama team to a near-upset of No. 3 LSU.

What will Miles have to do to get respect?

Well, win a national championship, of course.


Matt Deville is the editor of Tiger Rag. Reach him at

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