On the long and growing list of coaches Nick Saban has driven out of the SEC, Tommy Tuberville is the first. Remember, Tuberville ran off five consecutive Iron Bowl victories as Auburn’s head coach from 2002-06, a streak that drove Mike Shula out of his job as Alabama’s head coach and Tide AD Mal Moore to beg Saban to leave his job as the Miami Dolphins’ head coach.
Tuberville extended the streak to six as Saban gathered his strength in Year 1 at Alabama, and by 2008 the worm had turned. Alabama entered the 2008 Iron Bowl at 11-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country, while Auburn was 5-6 and in need of a miracle to reach a bowl game. The Crimson Tide won that 2008 Iron Bowl 36-0, and Tuberville resigned days later.
Tuberville worked again, but not in the SEC; he took a year off, then coached Texas Tech for three years and Cincinnati for four. It appears the 64-year-old is now out of the game for good, and which has granted him the freedom to speak freely.
“They’ve taken the fun out of it, Paul. Nick Saban has absolutely taken the fun out of it,” Tuberville said on the Paul Finebaum Show Monday, via BamaOnLine. “It’s not even fun to watch because you know they’re going to win. You just don’t know by how much. I thought Saturday would be his biggest test simply for the fact that LSU had some momentum. They beat the heck out of Georgia, and they had Alabama coming to their place. Everybody is saying that Alabama hasn’t played anybody as good as LSU. The one question mark I had was the defense. LSU is not great on offense. They’re struggling. They don’t have the athletes that they’ll have in a few years if they continue to recruit, but it was domination.”
It’s the grudging acceptance that one says when they can’t help but admit the one thing they don’t want to be true is true.
But I would quibble with Tuberville’s stance that Alabama’s domination is ruining the sport. In fact, the best college football moments this decade were moments when Nick Saban’s Alabama was defeated in their championship hunts.
Saban’s Alabama now casts a shadow that looms beyond the sport and compares only with dynasties of other sports. If we’re talking ongoing dynasties, you’d have to compare it with UConn women’s basketball or the Golden State Warriors.
Those rare moments they’re knocked off automatically become all-time classics in their sports.
These teams are so good that they make their entire sports better, and their ongoing greatness requires a Herculean effort to knock them off.
Such a moment will come for Alabama again at some point. It may not be this season, it may not be next, but it’s coming. And when it does, we’ll all remember it for the rest of our days.