Meyer, Saban the two best coaches in America
Published: Friday, October 1, 2010 at 4:57 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 1, 2010 at 4:57 p.m.
Games like this one, someone suggested the other day, deserve Roman numerals. It's a little early in the season to go Super Bowl on the game that will take place Saturday night in Tuscaloosa, especially because Super Bowls don't have the potential for a rematch later in the season. But certainly the coaching matchup is worthy.
The Search for 5-0.
It's typical that a game like this is dissected like a frog in biology class and that too much emphasis is placed on what has happened rather than what will. By the time we get to kick off, the media will be all talked out and then something will happen that none of us saw coming.
We think we know, but we don't know. And both teams go into this game knowing two things:
1. They may very well meet again.
2. They will be prepared.
Because these two groups of young men are coached by the best in the business. Urban Meyer and Nick Saban have distanced themselves from the rest of the fraternity of college football coaches, especially now that Pete Carroll has left for the NFL.
Give me two, any two. Bobby Stoops and Jim Tressel? Love Bobby to death, but I'll stick with the guys who have won the last two national titles.
Mack Brown and Chris Peterson? Good choices but I'll take the two guys who coach in the toughest conference in the land, where every game is more important than getting your tax return correct. I'll take those two guys who have lost one regular-season game between them over the last three seasons. One. And it was by one point.
This game Saturday night may be about personnel, but it's more likely about where these two coaches put that personnel. Just think if you went Dr. Frankenstein and took the best qualities of each and put them into one person.
Saban's defensive mind along with Meyer's spread philosophy and penchant for special teams? Their combined recruiting abilities? Their team might not lose a game for a decade.
"You can shake them up in a bottle and they are going to come up one and two," said noted Birmingham talk show host Paul Finebaum. "There isn't anybody disputing that. They are a couple of thoroughbreds at the finish line, and you need a pair of binoculars to find the next guy. I can't remember a time in college football when there was such a gap."
The two coaches are more alike than they are not. Both worked their way through the Midwest to get where they are. Saban has what he calls "the process." Meyer has "the plan to win." They both have the same end goal. In this case, it is to win Saturday night.
Both coaches get it that recruiting is the lifeblood of their teams, but they get it at a different level. It's not just recruiting the big names. Recruiting is about evaluation and development. They understand that concept.
So they have distanced themselves from the rest of the SEC. Cynics will point to unbeaten Auburn and unbeaten LSU. And either team could disrupt the balance that Saban and Meyer have created.
I'll take these two.
And I, like you, will watch with great interest to see what they have for each other Saturday night. Sure, the coordinators call the plays and formulate game plans but those paintings are signed by the head coaches. They set the tone and make the tough calls. Their attention to detail has no margin for error and their passion has to be on the sleeve so it will bleed into their players.
Meyer-Saban III should be something. And it's a series that gets better with every sequel. It's a modern Woody Hayes vs. Bo Schembechler.
There's no telling how long it will last or whether we'll see it again in December or next October.
But whether you are a fan of Florida or Alabama or just college football, you should enjoy it while you have it.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can listen to The Pat Dooley Show weekdays from 4-6 p.m. on 104.9 FM. And follow at http://Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.
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