Sprints is Getting Processed // 08.15.12

Nick Saban: trendsetter.

15 Days Until SEC Football

Andy Staples on the Sabanization of College Football

Staples does a good job here of cataloguing how Nick Saban's former assistants have been spreading out and seemingly taking over college football. Everyone wants the blueprint that Saban has, famously known as The Process.

While I agree that The Process is an important part of Saban's success, I think Staples oversells it a bit. In talking about how trends come and go, he lays it on quite thick:

In '08 the spread offense was all the rage, and two spread teams -- Florida and Oklahoma -- indeed faced off for the national title. Then, in the '09 SEC championship game, a coach beat the spread. A month later he won his second national title and showed that a scheme is no match for the Process.

Well, except for the very next year when South Carolina's spread-influenced offense broke the Tide's winning streak and Auburn won the Iron Bowl running one of the spread-iest spread offenses yet conceived.

Saban wins at Alabama because he's put the two halves of winning together: the Xs and the Os and the Jimmys and the Joes. Ultimately the latter is the more important element, and Alabama being Alabama means he'll get almost whoever he wants. Just remember: Larry Coker actually won a national title. How? He simply had better players than anyone else.

Bill Curry, Mike DuBose, Dennis Franchione, and Mike Shula all won 10 games at Bama, let's not forget, and they're nowhere near the tactician Saban is. Heck, even Saban at LSU didn't win like Saban at Alabama does; 2009-10 was the first time the Nicktator managed to win 10 games in consecutive seasons. Jim McElwain could follow The Process to a T at Colorado State and he'll never win at the same level as Saban at Alabama because he'll never get the same players. It's true that recruiting the best possible players is part of The Process, but that's not exactly a unique goal among coaches.

Staples finishes by asking is there's an approach that can beat Saban's system. Well, Saban has only six losses since 2008, but Chris Petersen has only six losses since 2006. No, Boise State doesn't play in the SEC, but it doesn't have a roster full of SEC players either. The point here isn't to argue whether Saban or Petersen is the better coach, but rather to point out that yes, you can win consistently without specifically following Saban's Process. If Petersen isn't enough for you, then just ask Bobby Bowden. Or Steve Spurrier. Or Bob Stoops. Or Pete Carroll. Or Tom Osborne. Or Barry Switzer. Or Bear Bryant. Or...

If you combine elite talent with great coaching and a university that cares, you're going to get sustained success no matter what system gets used. Saban's Process is a certified winner and worthy of emulation, but let's not go overboard. There's way more than one way to win at a high level.

"I don’t know about the quarterback situation. I guess they don’t either. That’s never a good thing."

My favorite thing Athlon Sports does each year is compile anonymous quotes from coaches about the other teams in their conferences. Some of them are bland, as many coaches are wont to be, but there are always some gems like this one. Guess which school it's referring to? (Hint: it's Auburn.) Guess which team didn't get a single positive comment? (Hint: it's Kentucky.) Plus, one last spin of the Alshon-Jeffery-got-fat meme for old times' sake.

Everything you ever assumed is correct.

ESPN hired Brett "Sources" McMurphy away from CBS recently, and he's delivered a good report already. He says that though 10 cities have participated in the process of determining the Champions Bowl site, it's basically a two-horse race between New Orleans and JerryWorld in Arlington. I can't imagine why Phoenix, San Antonio, and Nashville feel like they're out of it.

The Gainesville Ministry of Information is not pleased.

Jeff Driskel, one of the two quarterbacks in the running for the job at Florida, hurt his shoulder on Sunday and and didn't practice the past two days. The source for this information? His mother, because the school only released a terse statement saying that he was present at practice yesterday and will go today. That's right, a potential starting quarterback missed practice twice and the coaches didn't tell the media about it despite having multiple opportunities to do so.

We should hear about Mama Driskel's punishment for breaking the school's talking-to-the-media policy any day now.

A list of national title game contenders.

The site CFBMatrix has a system for picking out national championship contenders. Its system has included 21 of the past 22 national title game participants, and this year's results are out. Five teams from the SEC made the list.

Who would you least like to lose?

In the wake of LSU dismissing Tyrann Mathieu, Tommy Hicks of the Mobile Press-Register took a stab at picking out the most indispensable players from each SEC team.

I actually disagree with his pick of Alonzo Highsmith for Arkansas. I'd go with Tusk, who at 475 pounds will be the closest any SEC defensive tackle has come to outweighing Terrence Cody.

He's back.

Fresh off winning a silver medal in the Olympics, former Florida RB Jeff Demps has filed paperwork to play in the NFL this season. I still contend that it was a huge missed opportunity that Demps didn't attend the NFL Combine because it would have been nice to see what kind of 40 time a legit world-class sprinter would get there.

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