By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub
Bill Belichick and Nick Saban are linked for lots of reasons, but here’s a distinct difference: Belichick doesn’t throw his players under the bus the way the Napoleonic Saban did after his team got blasted in the national championship last night.
Oh, Saban didn’t mention his players by name, per se, but that didn’t stop him from venturing into territory that Belichick rarely (if ever) crosses into. Alabama unraveled in a 44-16 defeat to Clemson, the signature moment coming in the second half when the Crimson Tide tried a fake field goal and failed, then saw Clemson score on a 74-yard touchdown pass just a few plays later.
Bama broke down, plain and simple, and a passive-aggressive Saban made sure that people knew his players didn’t take instruction properly.
First, on the fake field goal that failed miserably:
“We thought we had a really, really good fake, and somebody didn't block the guy they were supposed to block, so it didn't work, so it was a bad call,” Saban said. “It's always that way.”
As for the ensuing 74-yard touchdown pass against Bama:
“We were in three-deep zone when No. 5 catches a ball and runs 50 yards, 60 yards for a touchdown, guy doesn't play the deep third properly,” Saban said.
Now look, Saban defenders will go on to note that Saban concluded each of those remarks by saying that the responsibilities to get things right start with the coaches, specifically him. Fine. But then why mention the specific breakdown at all publicly? If Saban wants to chastise his players privately, fine, that’s life and that’s reality. But when he drops in player mistakes in the same breath he takes responsibility, he comes off as a weasel.
Somebody didn’t block the guy they were supposed to block … but it was a bad call. … Guy doesn’t play the deep third properly … so you know, those responsibilities start with me.
Oh, you rat. If Saban were really an honest leader he wouldn’t talk about a missed block or bad coverage at all. He’d just say something like, “The kick was a bad decision on my part,” or “Look, Clemson has an explosive offense. They’re hard to contain and they did a great job confusing us.” Instead, he talked specifics, which is pointing fingers while trying to make it look like you’re not pointing fingers.
Now, love Belichick or hate him, but this is something he rarely does. Belichick typically says things like, “We’ve got to coach it better and player it better,” but he almost never talks about somebody missing a block or failing to cover a part of the field properly.
Maybe that’s why Bill has succeeded at highest level while Saban has suspiciously remained in college despite countless opportunities to get back to the NFL.