Best football weekend ahead

  • Blog Post by: Jim Souhan
  • January 11, 2010 - 1:03 PM

After watching the BSC ``national championship game'' and this weekend's NFL games, it struck me that I had just watched two of the greatest coaches fail at their jobs.

Now, Nick Saban's Alabama team still won the ``national championship,'' but not because of Saban. He did everything he could to blow that game.

He called for a fake punt on fourth-and-23 from his own 20 early in the first quarter. The pass was intercepted, but it would have been a horrible call even if it hadn't been. In fact, Texas did Alabama a favor by intercepting the pass instead of knocking it down and taking possession at the 20.

Even if the pass had been complete, it wouldn't have necessarily resulted in a first down. That's how bad that call was: Even if the play had taken Texas by surprised and had resulted in a completion, it still might not have worked.

Then Saban, recognizing that after the departure of Colt McCoy he was facing a true freshman quarterback, decided to play conservatively and win with his defense. And that strategy almost lost the game, as he let Texas basically bring their freshman up to speed during the course of the national championship game, to the point where the kid was throwing darts at the end and very well could have beaten Alabama.

Saban, for all of his accomplishments, was the only person in the stadium who could have put Alabama in position to lose that game, and he did.

Then there's Saban's buddy, Bill Belichick, whose credentials are even more impressive. Belichick blew his season much earlier in the year. He embarrassed so many of his players that when it came time to try to win a playoff game at home against a physical team, they didn't show up.

A lot of statisticians supported Belichick's decision to go for a first down late in the fourth quarter against the Colts earlier in the season. This is why statisticians should be kept in a dark corner of the world, and asked only for specific information. They often let numbers obscure the big picture.

Here's the big picture: When Belichick went for it deep in his own territory, he was telling his defensive players that he had no faith in their ability to stop the Colts. Then, later in the season, Belichick embarrassed more of his players when he kicked them out of the facility for the day when they were late for meetings because of a snowstorm.

He embarrassed defensive players, and he embarrassed Randy Moss. And who didn't perform to expectations on Sunday? The defense, and Randy Moss.

Saban and Belichick earned their reputations as great coaches. They also let supreme arrogance put their teams in precarious positions in the last week. Saban was lucky to get away with his mistakes; Belichick, without the support of his lockerroom, may no longer be the feared coach who was expected to win a Super Bowl every year.

By the way, it's no coincidence that Randy Moss has had his best seasons when he has worked alongside a great possession receiver. In Minnesota, it was Cris Carter who went over the middle, made the tough catches and moved the chains. In New England, it's been Wes Welker.

Without possession receivers of that caliber, a good defense can concentrate on Moss and frustrate him. He pouted at the end of the Patriots' loss on Sunday. Where have we seen that before?

It's funny, I like watching the Wild more now, during a season in which they probably won't make the playoffs and don't have a magnetic star like Marian Gaborik, than I have for years.

Nobody's trying to sell me oceanfront property in St. Paul, as Dougie used to do every day. They play an open, exciting style of hockey. And everything that Todd Richards and Chuck Fletcher told us last summer has come true, in terms of philosophy and approach.

You know you've lived in Minnesota too long when you click on the weather channel in the morning, see that it's 10 degrees, and think, ``Thank God.''

Upcoming: On am-1500 with Reusse at 6:40 a.m. Tuesday, then on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:14. Writing a lot about the Vikings this week to set up their match with the Cowboys.

On Sunday Sports Talk, we had on Andrew Brunette, Brian Cardinal and John Sullivan. I'll aim for some Cowboys-related guests for this Sunday.

I'll be on FSN for my weekly debate on Friday this week, in the pregame show.

You can follow me on Twitter at SouhanStrib.

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