Why Bob Stoops-Nick Saban Rivalry Is What the College Football Playoff Needs

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Why Bob Stoops-Nick Saban Rivalry Is What the College Football Playoff Needs
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Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops is angry, and he's not going to take it anymore.

On the heels of the 14 SEC head coaches going through ESPN's "Car Wash" at its corporate headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut, Stoops and the rest of the Big 12's head coaches made the rounds at the Worldwide Leader in Sports.

In the process, Stoops took several shots at Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

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Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops

When asked what he thought of Saban saying he felt his team treated the 2014 Sugar Bowl between the two schools as a "consolation game," Stoops fired back.

"They didn't look like it was a consolation game on that first drive when they scored a touchdown and everyone thought they were going to rout us," Stoops told ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy. "I've been in plenty of those [non-national title games]. We've played in a bunch of national championship games, right? ... That's a good one.

"So that means I've got a built-in excuse the next time we don't play for a national championship?"

Good for Stoops for calling Saban out on his excuse, because that's exactly what it is.

What did you expect Stoops to do? Sit around and let one of his peers diminish the accomplishment of his team? Of course not. He fought back after one took shots at the Sooners.

Make no mistake, that's exactly what they were—shots.

By calling it a consolation game and talking about complacency—which is a narrative Saban has been selling all offseason, according to Mike Herndon of AL.com—Saban is essentially saying that Oklahoma didn't beat Alabama. Alabama beat Alabama.

That's simply wrong. Oklahoma whipped Alabama, thoroughly and decisively.

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Stoops mentioned that he didn't detect any drop-off in effort from Alabama during the first drive of the game—a four-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a one-yard touchdown run.

That was the case for the entire game, even early. After quarterback AJ McCarron threw a pick on the second drive, the Tide marched 65 yards for a field goal and then 80 for a touchdown to close out the first quarter. They racked up a whopping 516 total yards and averaged 7.94 yards per play.

Complacency didn't seem to be an issue for the offense, did it?

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The Tide's defense was out-schemed by the Sooners, as quarterback Trevor Knight broke out and led his team to 31 first-half points. He's a young player who got better during bowl practice, which has nothing to do with Alabama's complacency or the Crimson Tide at all.

Alabama fought, and lost. That happens, even to talented teams like Alabama.

Now the stage is set for what could become a budding rivalry in the age of the College Football Playoff. 

Alabama is going to be a popular pick to make the inaugural four-team postseason tournament, and Bleacher Report colleague Michael Felder and I both picked Oklahoma to make the field in our midsummer playoff video:

Stoops never has an issue stating his mind.

He notoriously called out the SEC last offseason and then backed it up when he got the chance in New Orleans. In a day and age of increased coachspeak and a dwindling number of characters like LSU's Les Miles and South Carolina's Steve Spurrier, we need to embrace the ones who are willing to step forward.

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Stoops didn't back down at ESPN. In fact, he seemed eager to speak his mind.

A nice way to break in the new postseason format would be to welcome this rivalry and its war of words between coaches.

Can you imagine the tension leading up to an Alabama vs. Oklahoma national semifinal in, just for tradition's sake, the Sugar Bowl? That'd be tremendous for the event and the sport.

The age of big money and conference realignment has erased some of the traditions and rivalries that made college football great. While Texas vs. Texas A&M and other big-time rivalry games remain off the schedule for now, let's embrace the potential for new rivalries when they present themselves.

Saban and Stoops just put the Alabama vs. Oklahoma rivalry on a tee for the college football world, and if it materializes in the inaugural College Football Playoff, it'd be a home run for the sport.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All stats via CFBStats.com.

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