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There was some coaching genius behind the Iron Bowl illegal substitution penalty

Every staff in the country has a guy in the box locked into the personnel coming on and off the field. It's coaching 101.

*In my best E60 voice* 
What if I told you one coach found a way to use that to create an illusion to his advantage?

To see how, we have to take a look at the wild illegal substitution penalty that essentially cost Alabama a chance to get the ball back with an opportunity to go down and tie, or win the game.

Facing a 4th-and-4 at their own 26-yard-line, just after seeing field goal clang that would have tied the game with about two minutes left clang off the upright, Auburn trotted out their punter. Surely the person designated to spot the change of personnel entering the field communicated that down to the coaches with headsets on the field so they could get the right unit on the field. With Auburn's punter on the field, Alabama responded logically by sending out their punt return team.

There was just one problem, the punter was lined up at wide receiver. Meanwhile Auburn quarterback Bo Nix was lined up ready to take the shotgun snap with a running back next to him.

As Saban and his staff realized they got bamboozled, and Auburn didn't plan to actually punt (even if they shifted the punter back to kick, they aren't going to have their quarterback as a personal protector), they tried to run their defense back onto the field, and while most of the punt return team came off and were subbed by the defensive players, the deep return man remained...leaving 12 guys on the field.

See? Genius. To me, that shows Gus' roots at the high school level. You don't see guys with a wealth of NFL experience thinking to do something like that in that moment.

What did Saban think of it? He shared in his postgame presser that he thought it was a "unfair play."

"They substituted their punter as a wide receiver. So we put the punt team in. Then, when we saw the quarterback was still in there, we tried to put the defense back in. I thought they [the officials] should have given us more time to substitute and get Waddel out as a returner, and instead we get called for 12 guys on the field. That was disappointing," Saban added.

Catch the whole situation unfold on the field at about the 14:10 mark of the video below.

Hats off to Gus Malzahn and his staff for pulling this one off on a national stage against one of the best to ever do it. one. It surely wasn't the first time a coach has done this, and it certainly will not be the last.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pL1ImbD2lJk

This tweet lays it out pretty well too.