Saban, Alabama, and LSU A Two-Headed Coin Just the Way It Is

Leo DonelonCorrespondent IJanuary 11, 2010

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 07:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide leads his team onto the field to face the Louisiana State University Tigers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 7, 2009 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

In Alabama they love their football. Truth be told, in Alabama they love their coaches. It makes it hard for them to leave. They build statues in their likeness. Fans have been known to tattoo images of former coaches on their bodies. They have copied their fashion style of hounds tooth and fedoras. Three coaches have won national championships at the University of Alabama and all three are revered.

In Louisiana we love our football! We will impale our coaches on a stake if they don't maintain or exceed what they have already done. No tolerance for slipping back, even though that happens to every team. It's not injuries, it's not talent, it's the coach always. Three coaches have won national championships at Louisiana State University and all three are reviled: Two because they left and one because he suffered normal football fates after a championship. 

They represented the extremes of emotions. The coin could easily flip at both institutions. It is the admiration of their former coaches that brings out the feelings of a jilted lover in Baton Rouge. Even without statues these men of the gridiron were beloved. The dichotomy is that Tiger fans love their coaches too. Who is to say what the reaction would be if a coach in Tuscaloosa would leave for a rival school instead of retiring. Maybe a statue would be removed.

One man belongs to both institutions, the present of one, and past of the other.  It is not lost on fans of both school that a tie he now wears during bowl week of the last two years is a purple and gold stripe. This year at his game in Baton Rouge, he made a point of commenting on the positive memories of his times at LSU. If asked he would know better than anyone the fans of both schools. It was his experience in Baton Rouge that called him back to college ball. Alabama has benefited for that call.

If Les Miles left that would be the reason for his being reviled. All other reasons would be forgotten. When Miles climbs the mountain again he will be our darling again, something he well knows, as well as Saban.

This love of football and their leaders has add to the LSU-Alabama rivalry. It is a little sweeter for us to beat Saban and Alabama, because of his history. It is a little sweeter for Alabama fans to beat LSU because of their coach's history. If it is tough on anyone, it would be Saban for his feelings for both institutions.

Like all rivalry games, this game too should have a name and a trophy. They have tongue in cheek called it the Saban Bowl. Maybe it should be called the "The History Cup", with the names of all the head coaches that coach in the games over the years. It would commemorate the history between the schools.