Nick Saban is a X and O leading light who runs a much tighter and efficient organizational ship than classic "CEO coach" Mack Brown. There are plenty of Administrator types who know a ton of football, but choose to focus their efforts elsewhere; just as there are as many innovators who are delightful personalities and kick-ass motivators as there are awkward social mutants. The defense of the Administrator or CEO coach is straightforward enough. College football is about much more than Xs and Os. It's also about bringing together squabbling alumni, placating donors, organizing, recruiting, juggling egos and budgets, kissing babies, following rules (or not following them in clever ways), and creating a successful long-term culture. This is true. And no program will succeed without finding some way to master those elements. The easiest way to ease many of those tasks is to win on the field.
Chizik spent much of his Sunday meeting with the media praising No. 2 Alabama. His scouting report went like this: "Very similar to last year. Very physical. Very talented in a lot of areas. And they don't make a lot of mistakes," Chizik said. "They are very efficient. "Defensively, very sound. They are in the right spots. It's very similar to the Alabama teams we've seen the last three times we played them." Chizik said he's looking at what LSU did, when it almost beat Alabama; and what Texas A&M did, when the Aggies did. "You definitely look at those to see what they were able to do," he said.
"There are some things that Brent does well as a running back," Saban said of the prized 2011 signee who has practiced at linebacker and H-back in addition to running back. "He has worked hard and is a really good special teams guy for us -- when he makes good decisions." Saban said he calls it "execution function." "Do you make good choices and decisions about what you do -- like penalties and stuff like that?" Saban said. "I think he has gotten better at that and actually made some good plays today on special teams."
One word of caution: while the Tigers have had an execrable season, don't confuse them with Western Carolina, a comparison that many joking Alabama fans made last week. There is a reason that AU can beat New Mexico State 42-7, or roll Alabama A&M 51-7. The Tigers are still an SEC team with SEC talent, and Alabama forgets that at its peril. Should the Crimson Tide win? Obviously, if you look at Auburn-Texas A&M, or Auburn-Georgia, Alabama should roll. But it may not be the kind of pull-the-starters-after-a-quarter blowout that many people expect.
Given the success opponents have had through the air in recent weeks, Crimson Tide nickel and dime backs can expect to be targeted from here on out. With opposing offense spreading the field, UA defensive backs Geno Smith, Vinnie Sunseri and Nick Perry (assuming he returns) will go a long way in determining whether the defense can get off the field. For that reason, when considering potential postseason matchups, the Georgia offense would likely present the biggest challenge for Kirby Smart's defense. Even with two of its top receivers -- Marlon Brown and Michael Bennett -- out for the remainder of the season, the Bulldogs are better equipped to exploit the Alabama pass defense than, say, Notre Dame.
Colorado State is close to getting coach Jim McElwain back to Tuscaloosa, Ala., two years after he left. CSU appears to be working out details of a two-game deal with Alabama, a college football source said late Friday night. The tentative framework is this: Both games will be played in Tuscaloosa, in 2013 and 2015, and Colorado State stands to get more than $1 million for each game. CSU athletic director Jack Graham would not comment specifically on any negotiations with Alabama, but did offer this: "Games like playing Alabama are certainly possibilities that we are considering," he said. "Lots of things have to line up to pull the trigger to making the commitment to playing a football game like that. Unless and until we actually complete that process and fulfill all of the necessary negotiations that are required to make something like that happen, that's not done."