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Saban deserves praise for championships, but his big-game struggles are overlooked - The Red and Black : Sports

Saban deserves praise for championships, but his big-game struggles are overlooked

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Posted: Friday, November 30, 2012 6:08 pm | Updated: 10:11 pm, Sun Dec 2, 2012.

Alabama’s head coach, Nick Saban, is arguably the hottest commodity in college football right now.

Saban has amassed a 66-17 record at Alabama, in addition to winning two BCS national championships to go along with the BCS title he won as head coach of LSU in 2003.

He has also proven to be an exemplary recruiter and has secured some of the nation’s top-ranked recruiting classes the past few years.

After viewing how certain pundits in the media portray Saban, it would be easy to confuse him with Vince Lombardi.

Those same pundits, however, have failed to recognize that Saban has had his fair share of struggles in marquee games.

Sure, Saban deserves all the credit in the world for turning around a downtrodden Alabama program, but criticism of Saban has been lacking after his teams lose big games.

You don’t have to look further than Alabama’s lone loss this year to Texas A&M on Nov 11. Overshadowed by the herculean performance of quarterback Johnny Manziel is the fact the Crimson Tide did not show up ready to play. It was as if Alabama never got off the bus until the second quarter was underway and by then, they had already fallen into a 20-0 hole.

While the upset surprised a lot of people across the country, many knew that A&M would provide a stiff challenge for the Tide. As a matter of fact, they came into the game with a top-15 BCS ranking and a young, hotshot quarterback that had been lighting up SEC defenses. The Aggies should not have been overlooked.

Saban has been deservedly applauded for winning the BCS national championship last season in a rematch from a regular-season rematch against LSU. Few, however, criticized Saban for losing the “Game of the Century” — the regular season No. 1 and No. 2 matchup between LSU and Alabama, which would’ve given the Tide the inside track to the BCS Championship Game.

In 2010, Alabama had the chance to knock off bitter rival and top-ranked Auburn and advance to a BCS bowl. The Tide blew a 21-0 first quarter lead and watched Cam Newton essentially lock up the Heisman Trophy en route to a 28-27 Auburn victory.

Going back to 2008, Saban’s Crimson Tide lost yet another No. 1 and No. 2 matchup as they fell at the hands of Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators in the SEC Championship Game.

The loss kept Alabama from playing for a national title and they proceeded to lose in the Sugar Bowl to Utah. Yes, Utah. As a matter of fact, the physically inferior Utes from the Mountain West Conference soundly beat a much bigger Alabama team.

For his head coaching career, Saban is only 7-6 in bowl games. He has amassed a 3-3 record against LSU, his former employer. His teams are capable of being beaten, despite what some pundits may have you believe.

Saban deserves all the accolades he has received, but his teams have not always been able to win the big game.

— Anthony Alvarez is a sophomore finance major from Laguna Niguel, Calif.

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