LSU vs. Alabama: Nick Saban Is to Blame for This One

Dr. SEC@thedrsecAnalyst IINovember 6, 2011

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 05:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide checks with the referee after Dre Kirkpatrick #21 got hit during the game against against the LSU Tigers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 5, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

This morning many of the nation woke up to the cold hard facts—Nick Saban is a good coach, but he is not God. 

Every coach has a bad game from time-to-time. However, this has become a disturbing trend for Saban that the mainstream media has ignored because of their infatuation with him.

Saban is a great recruiter and teacher of the game. This fact is undeniable. However, when is the last time that you have seen him make an in-game adjustment in a big game? Look no further than the 2010 season. Despite being the preseason No.1 team with the returning Heisman trophy winner, the Tide were defeated three times—and all three games were because of Saban not being able to make adjustments within the game.

This season, Saban has once again feasted on beating teams off of pure talent. However, the first time he was challenged with a team with similar talent, his team folded again.

Before you blame the kicker, the quarterback, the punt returner, or the offensive coordinator consider the following—it is Nick Saban who instituted the “one voice” philosophy. He believes that he is the one voice and nothing goes to anyone else until it goes through him.

Saban has no problem accepting the praise when things go right, so why should he not accept the blame when things go wrong? Saban supporters will point out that he took the blame in the interview last night, but did he? He then followed up by calling out Maze for not fielding the punt.  

Supporters will argue that he did not throw an interception, miss a field goal, or block a player in the back. However, LSU also made several critical mistakes, but when it came down to the fourth quarter Les Miles made the right decisions and Nick Saban did not.

There were several coaching flaws on the behalf of Saban last night, but here are just a few. All of the mistakes being placed on players were actually the result of poor coaching decisions.

Consider the four missed field goals the Crimson Tide endured. The first time you can blame the kicker. Perhaps even the second time. However, you cannot continue to repeat the same mistake and expect a different result. Isn’t that the definition of insanity? Once Saban realized that his kickers were not up to the task, he should have started punting the football and pinning the Tigers backwards.

Did I mention that the missed field goals last night were from ranges of 52, 50, 49, 44 and blocked by LSU?

Another costly mistake that Saban made was when he tried to channel his inner “Mad Hatter.” Alabama had finally started moving the football and Trent Richardson had found his stride.  The Tide had the ball on the LSU 28 with a tied football game. Marquis Maze, the wide receiver, lined up in the wildcat formation and threw a pass that would be intercepted on the 1 yard line by LSU's Eric Reid.

Did I mention that it was 1st and 10 on the LSU 28? Did I mention the ball game was tied?

Those who want to turn a blind eye to this epic failure of a coaching decision will blame Alabama’s offensive coordinator Jim McElwain. However, no trick play in the fourth quarter would had been ran without Saban’s approval. This mistake falls clearly on the shoulders of the coach.

Another glaring mistake that Saban made in this game is when he did not call a timeout with roughly 90 seconds remaining in the game. LSU was going to be forced to punt. Saban supporters will argue that he did not want to risk AJ McCarron throwing another interception.

There are two major flaws with this argument. First, you didn’t have to make a dangerous pass. LSU would had likely given a little cushion and a draw with Trent Richardson could have yielded a 10-15 yard gain. There are a variety of ways Saban could have attempted to gain large chunks of yards with low risk plays.

The second flaw in that argument is that when coaches play not to lose, they usually do.

Lastly there were the questionable overtime calls.  Alabama had the best player on the field in Trent Richardson and it’s not even close. Instead of feeding Richardson the ball, Alabama attempted passes on two of their three downs.

Saban did not have confidence in his quarterback at the end of regulation, but he did in overtime?

Perhaps the play that best summed up the night is when Alabama broke the huddle with 12 men on the second play of overtime.  This was a prime example of the coaching staff not having the attention to detail that they pride themselves on.

Alabama did not lose this game, LSU won it. However, Saban and his staff did everything they could to gift wrap it. For example, Brad Wing made a 72 yard punt but Maze should not had been on the field.

Miles made the right calls, Saban did not.