They say that college football is a religion in the South.
Apparently, it's political, too.
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, who once had an election night party at Bryant-Denny Stadium, chimed in with his opinion on Alabama's play-calling on a critical set of downs in the Crimson Tide's 29-24 loss to Texas A&M.
After a deep pass to Kenny Bell got the Crimson Tide inside the 10-yard line, offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier called pass plays on three of the next four plays. Two of those plays resulted in scrambles from quarterback AJ McCarron, and the fourth-down pass was picked off by Texas A&M defensive back Deshazor Everett.
"I would actually have run the ball for four straight times," Bentley said on the Paul Finebaum Radio Network (via AL.com).
Gov. Bentley was speaking with Paul Finebaum, so he had to know that college football was going to be one of the primary talking points. In the audio clip, it is clear that it's a passing comment, and not meant to be a serious criticism.
But he has to know how the quote will play on a larger scale.
It's going to look like he's focusing his attention on things that are minor when compared to the other responsibilities of our elected leaders. Fair or not, it will be lumped into the same category as the government attempting to incriminate Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds on Capitol Hill.
"Why are you focusing on sports when you have much bigger things to worry about?"
That's incredibly unfair when you listen to the audio.
With that said, Bentley is 100 percent correct. Alabama's play-calling was suspect vs. Texas A&M, particularly on that fateful series. When you have the best offensive line in the country and Eddie Lacy or T.J. Yeldon lining up in the backfield, it's not exactly rocket science.
Was Gov. Bentley right about Alabama's play-calling?
But it goes far beyond that. Saturday afternoon was the culmination of a two-game stretch of curious play-calling for the Crimson Tide.
Alabama has become successful over the years by running the ball and playing defense, but in the last two games, the Crimson Tide have run 71 pass plays and only 56 running plays. Prior to the LSU game, they had run only 174 passing plays in eight games and a whopping 331 running plays.
Gov. Bentley is right—Alabama should have stuck with what got it there. But it's not surprising how the quote is playing outside the state of Alabama.