Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Tide are 0 for Louisiana

By losing to Louisiana-Monroe last night, the Crimson Tide has turned what could have been an acceptable rebuilding season into a debacle. Tide fans, God bless them, are notoriously unforgiving of such losses, the biggest reason being that they occur so rarely throughout Alabama history. This was one of the worst losses in Crimson Tide history, arguably much worse than the UCF loss homecoming day in 2000. This one stings.

Eight in the Box says that the team with the most heart won this game:

The 2007 Tide football team has a lot of talkers, and not many doers. Last week much was made of the Tide's post game locker and all of the bluster by the team over the poor performance against Mississippi State. That was wasted energy.
Wasted, indeed. It isn't as if this team was coming off a win -- in fact, now they have dropped three in a row, and in the SEC, that is a serious slump, especially with perhaps the most bitter rivalry game in America coming up next week.

Memphis Tider is embarrassed:
I could take losses to SEC competition.

Even Mississippi State on the road.

I could handle non-conference neutral site losses to BCS teams like Florida State.

But a 21-14 loss to Louisiana-Monroe on Senior Day is unacceptable.
Ouch. Kentucky fans know well how that feels after their basketball team dropped a game to "Gardner-who?". I feel your pain, and I wish I didn't.

The Tide Druid has an apology post. He apologizes to his readers, Mississippi state, Auburn, the SEC ... pretty much everyone that counts. And of course, just to make me feel as bad as he does, he invokes "Gardner-who?":
How should one put this into perspective? It’s the Gardner-Webb loss of the football season for Alabama, if not worse. Good night, and Roll Tide.
Thanks for that unpleasant memory, TD. But truth be told, if Alabama finds some way to beat Auburn, this game won't hurt quite as bad. Of course, if it doesn't, the recriminations in Tuscaloosa will be a distraction for a long while to come.

Outside the Sidelines at Roll 'Bama Roll tries to make sense of it all, and puts it in historical context:

Bottom line: This loss is as bad as it seems, and probably worse. It could be the worst single loss for Alabama since the arrival of Bear Bryant.

That is about the worst indictment of this fiasco that could be applied. Alabama has had some relatively poor teams over the last decade, but this loss is one of those inexplicable things that hurts not only the 'Bama faithful, but the image of the entire SEC.

Now SEC fans must must listen to insufferable Pac-10 and Big East proponents (Appy State helpfully insulated us from insults from the Big 10) about how one of the SEC's flagship programs couldn't beat 3-6 (now 4-6) Louisiana-Monroe from the mighty Sun Belt conference on senior day in Tuscaloosa. It's one thing if Mississippi State gets crushed by West Virgina in Morgantown, but this loss will drag down the entire conference. OTS continues with the upside:
In his first season at LSU, Saban experienced a similar loss when his Bayou Bengals fell to lowly Alabama-Birmingham when they were coming off a painful conference loss on the road to Auburn. In many ways, that loss very much resembles today when his Crimson Tide fell to lowly Louisiana-Monroe when they were coming off a painful conference loss on the road to Mississippi State. In the grand scheme of things, the loss to UAB didn't slow down LSU one bit, and no one should expect the loss to ULM to slow down Alabama.
Probably true. But despite LSU's comparably recent ascension to SEC prominence, Alabama has a long and storied history of football success. In a 12 game season, a loss like this is impossible to recover from, perception-wise. Until Saban proves otherwise, this is still the Alabama team of Mike Shula, is it not?. The change to Saban so far has not produced the kind of improvement even the most glass-half-full Alabama fan would have hoped for -- it's not as if we are early in the season here. I hate to say that, but this Alabama team is 6-5 and hasn't beaten a single team they weren't supposed to beat, and lost to *ahem* Louisiana Monroe and has won exactly two road games in the SEC, both against the weakest teams in their respective divisions.

Shining the harsh light of reality on the Tide gives me no joy, and I actually hope Saban restores this great program to it's historical splendor. Seeing Alabama play this poorly at home on senior day is simply ... well ... it just ain't right. That is something you expect from Vanderbilt, the Mississippi's or Kentucky. Not Alabama.


Philip, the Equal Opportunity Cynic said...

Not to rub in the G-W loss but I think the La-Monroe loss added one more point of comparison between Saban and Gillispie.

Although truth be told.... I have no reason to think that Gillispie is anything less than ethical, but I do have third-hand anecdotal evidence to think that about Saban. So I hope the comparison doesn't turn out to be true on that count.

BestofSEC said...

Me also.

As successful as Gillispie has been, though, he has not been anywhere close to as successful as Saban.

There is another big difference in this case, and that is that Saban has had most of a season, and I can't say that he has delivered much. Maybe my expectations were unreasonable, but I did expect 7-5 or so out of Alabama this year. Saban has gone as far as you can go in coaching, having been a head coach in the NFL.

Gillispie has had all of 2 games. Not enough time to make any kind of judgment about either his ethics or his ability as a coach. He has been successful in the equivalent of Class A ball, but he's in the majors now. We'll see.

Ryan Ferguson said...

C'mon, let's all get real here. The loss to Gardner-Webb was shocking, but it's basketball... pre-season... it only hurts Kentucky's pride. It'll be forgotten in a year or so. Put it this way, Kentucky can still have a superlative season despite that loss.

Not so for 'Bama. It's different in football, and we all know it. Football teams play 11-13 games per year... that is it. To compete at an elite level, programs who consider themselves at the top of the heap measure their seasons in terms of 0, 1, or 2 losses.

The difference is significant. There's a huge drop between 0 and 1. Another huge drop between 1 and 2. After two, you're off the cliff. You can lose 3 games in a season and still be OK but not for very long if you're an Oklahoma, a USC, a Florida, or an LSU.

In football, you just don't lose to a program like La-Monroe in the SEC. You JUST DON'T DO IT. You're not *supposed* to do it in basketball either, but the game lends itself more to the possibilities of the upset. There's the overused 'parity' buzzword. There's the fact that basketball is more accessible to kids as they're growing up, so there's a lot more talent floating around. And the difference in resources isn't as great... all you need to play b-ball is 5 guys, a hardwoord court and two hoops.

Football is a massive undertaking. Just traveling with a football team is a daunting prospect. 75 players, equipment manager, coaching staff, trainers, boosters, ball boys, athletic department staff... just huge.

And you've gotta have good players, who train hard all-year long. The best players. You've gotta have depth, because football is a long, physically grueling game. You've gotta have great coaches on both sides of the ball.

In football, 'resources' make a huge difference. Much more so than in hoops.

Alabama has the resources to blow La-Monroe out of the water with their second string. Don't give me this nonsense about Shula leaving the cupboard bare. THE SECOND STRING SHOULD HAVE EASILY HANDLED LA-MONROE.

So let's just stop with the Gardner-Webb comparisons. We'll forget about Gardner-Webb. We won't forget about Ala-frickin'-bama with Nick-Effin'-Saban at the helm losing to La-Frickin'-Monroe. It's a stain on the entire conference and I'm pissed as hell about it, even though I'm as far from a Bama fan as you can find.

Saban and Alabama let the conference down big-time. All SEC fans suffer from this loss and we'll hear about it for a long time to come.

Thank God the game wasn't televised.

BestofSEC said...

Ryan, I think you are exactly right on all counts.

The only way G-W compares is in the magnitude of difference between programs. Other than that, there really isn't one, especially coming where it did in the season.

A better comparison would be Appy State as far as the damage it does to 'Bama and the SEC in the eyes of football fans. But this loss, as bad as it is, was to a FBS program, so that comparison isn't that good, either.

It was what it was -- the worse loss by one of the premier programs in the conference in years.