A Good Column, Spoiled

In my other blogging “job,” I write about college football, specifically Auburn University and the rest of the Southeastern Conference. In that capacity, I got an email today linking to John Feinstein’s WaPo column regarding Alabama coach Nick “I am not going to be the Alabama coach” Saban and his recent bizarre commentary:

it is impossible not to begin today with one of the worst people in all of sports — and this takes in a lot of territory — Alabama football coach Nick Saban.

Saban is the highest paid coach ($4 million a year) in college football, having taken the Alabama job last winter after categorically denying he was leaving the Miami Dolphins.

Okay, coaches do that. They shouldn’t do that but they do. Saban was failing miserably in Miami, he had already proven he could win big in the Southeastern Conference and he was clearly someone who was meant to coach at the college level where tyrants are applauded as long as they win.

Alabama finished the season 6-6, losing its last four games after coming within a play of upsetting LSU (Saban’s old team) when the Crimson Tide was 6-2. At that point, even after the LSU loss, Saban was being treated the way he likes to be treated: as the savior.

Then came losses to Mississippi State and Louisiana-Monroe. That’s not a typo, Alabama, coached by the savior, lost to Louisiana-Monroe at home, in the stadium named for Bear Bryant.

A few days after the ULM loss Saban, who can’t stand the media, spoke to the media. In talking about the losses to Mississippi State and ULM he brought up 9-11. And Pearl Harbor.

That’s right, in talking about two lost football games he brought up 9-11 and Pearl Harbor. In Saban-world, those were “catastrophes.” So too were the back-to-back losses in football games. Saban went on to say that catastrophes could be turning points in history and this “catastrophe,” would be, he hoped, a turning point in the history of Alabama football.

Okay, let’s just say this: NO ONE should be allowed to mention catastrophes in which thousands of people died when talking about football — or any sport. Not ever. And certainly not someone who is working at what is supposed to be an institution of higher learning. What kind of message is he sending to his players? If he makes a comment like this in public, what in the world is he saying to his players behind closed doors?

So far, so good. Heck, I agree with everything Feinstein’s said up to this point. Saban is a vastly overrated and overpaid jackass, and his “historical” comparison of Pearl Harbor and September 11, 2001 to losing a couple of football game was as beyond the pale as… well, this:

A couple of months ago the right wing media become apoplectic when a liberal organization took out an ad criticizing the leader of the American forces in Iraq. How, they screamed, can you be critical of the man who represents the men and women who are putting themselves in danger every day in Iraq?

Where are those people right now? Why aren’t they screaming about a football coach comparing lost football games to thousands of lost LIVES? Where is the perspective?

Speaking for myself, I didn’t even consider blogging about Saban’s dumb remarks in the political sphere, because they weren’t worthy of that level of analysis. Saban is a monomaniacal football coach who can’t see beyond the horizon of his own tiny empire. He and his dumbassery are not worth the time to criticize in the arena of ideas (although I did take the opportunity to note others smacking him around in the arena of sports).

If I had gone out of my way to inject politics into a sports story, to forward my own agenda on a story that actually had nothing to do with military or political reality, why, I’d be just like…

… John Feinstein. And Nick Saban, for that matter.

Feinstein’s linking of the outrageous MoveOn ad attacking General Petraeus (and other vapid political commentary in the same column) to Saban’s idiocy is not one iota less asinine than Saban’s analogy, and in his big-media arrogance, Feinstein is just as oblivious to that fact as Saban was to the utterly inappropriate nature of the “Pearl Harbor” comments.

You want to opine on politics, John, do it in the editorial section. Nobody reads your sports columns because they want to know what you think about Iraq. You work for the Washington Post; we already know what you think about Iraq.


11 Responses to “A Good Column, Spoiled”

  1. jaymaster Says:


    There are far too many folks in the media industry whose logic to emotion ratio is WAY out of kilter.

  2. rosignol Says:

    …You work for the Washington Post; we already know what you think about Iraq.

    Ouch, that left a mark.

  3. Russ Goble Says:

    As an avid sports talk junky (I even Tivo ESPNs the Sports Reporters, and PTI), I’m convinced that sports columnists view editorial/opinion writers at newspapers as the cool kids in school.

    Sports columnists (and I’m making the distinction between them and sports talk radio guys, who are a different animal as they usually take themselves less seriously) absolutely lunge at the chance to demagogue an issue of “social” importance. If they can make a link to the current political climate they will. If they can figure out a way to “blame society” or come up with some social problem that NEEDS SOMETHING DONE they will (Watch for this the more we learn about Sean Taylor’s death). Its not always a “liberal” perspective, but it mostly is (one thing about sports guys, even liberal ones, they do tend to pay more credence to meritocracies than the larger society I think).

    Feinstein is definitely one who thinks a lot of himself, and maybe its warranted, as he’s very accomplished as an author. But, even a sports columnists in the beltway, is still going to be a beltway guy. I love PTI, but Kornhiser and Wilbon drip east coast liberalism (though Wilbon is a text book case of African American with conservative sensibilities from a personal responsibility standpoint who still can’t help himself but to be a hardcore Democrat).

    Peter King, BTW, is the worst offender of this. Nothing kills his Monday Morning QB column quicker than his dalliance into political commentary (he, on more than one occasion has argued that a not totally cold as balls December is “proof” of global warming).

  4. jaymaster Says:

    Good observation, Russ.

    I can

  5. Maestroh Says:

    Ever notice how Peter King and virtually anybody else brings up how schools (and NFL teams) are supposed to interview (though not necessarily hire) minority coaches?

    What I’ve never been able to understand is why those self-same writers don’t step aside and give their own high paying jobs to minorities. It seems to me that if its good for the NFL, it ought to be good for the NFL sportswriters.


  6. Steve Plunk Says:

    Most adults recognize the concept of there being a time and place for everything. A sports column is not the place for political commentary and Feinstein should know that. It’s gotten so bad Opinionjounal.com regularly points out these “wannabe pundits”.

  7. Marty Says:

    My buddy Russ, who wrote the comment above, turned me on to this piece. I think you are right on about Feinstein and I get that this is the meat of your posting. I also agree Saban may have went too far in his catastrophe comments, but the media really blew that out of proportion and made it something it was not.

    What I do not get is your and your fellow Auburn fans hatred of Saban. All he has done is torn down my beloved Crimson Tide (Hopefully to rebuild it). You guys keep going back and saying he lied. He may have, but remember we made an offer to Rich Rodriguez after the 1st offer to Saban was made and turned down. I guess he must have been telling the truth then. Otherwise we really made a huge mistake courting the man from West Virginia. Also when Saban made the decision he went to his boss and sat down with him man to man and discussed it with him or did you miss Wayne Huizenga

  8. Will Collier Says:

    Marty: You guys need to get over the “y’all are scared” schoolyard mantra. No matter how many times Paul Finebaum might write that column, nobody is scared of a coach who can’t beat La-Mo.

  9. Marty Says:

    Will: then why all the hostility towards Saban? Why are you not thrilled that a coach that can not beat LA-Mon is at Alabama? We were thrilled you guys took a coach from Ole’ Miss. We were wrong to think he would suck. See I can admit these things.

    You guys at Auburn need to lose this “jealous little brother” mentality. Hell you’ve beat us 6 times now, and the coach that is satan in your eyes could not beat you or as said before LA-Mon.

  10. chrisa798 Says:

    Then why all the hostility towards Saban?

    ‘Cause he’s a sniveling dickweed?

  11. Will Collier Says:

    Right. Lots of people hate Saban for the same reason they hated Ray Perkins: they’re both Jerks. I never hated Gene Stallings, for instance, not least because he’s… not an asshole.

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