Total Domination. With a capital “D” Alabama rolled to their third National Championship in four years after a blow out of Notre Dame Monday night 42-7. From the opening kickoff to the final gun, the Tide performed like a machine, leaving no doubt the Fighting Irish had no business being on the same field.
In fact, at the end of the night, there was only one coach in the Orange Bowl with an unbeaten record in 2012. That happened to be Urban Meyer of Ohio State, who was working the game with the ESPN crew. Of course the Buckeyes weren’t eligible to play because of the probation placed on the school by the NCAA for five players trading tattoos for memorabilia. Yet Notre Dame was allowed to play with a pair of players who beat up a police officer in March. And a coach who wanted a practice filmed on a windy day that led to a scaffolding falling over and a manager dying.
Alabama started the game with two impressive drives and ended the first quarter up 21-0. Overall Alabama had six drives of over 67 yards that led to touchdowns. The Tides offensive line, arguably the best in the nation, controlled the line of scrimmage and opened gaps for the player of the game Eddie Lacey, who accumulated over 100 yards in rushing on the first drive of the third quarter. Freshman T. J. Yeldon was also impressive with over 100 yards on the ground and showed Alabama’s rushing attack is in good hands going forward. As a team Alabama accumulated over 500 yards in total offense, along with over 250 yards rushing. A balanced attack Notre Dame had no hope in stopping.
Saban’s offensive game plan was simple, block ND linebacker Monte Te’o off the ball and let the rest of the Irish defense try and tackle. With that idea in mind, the Tide were moving the ball at will on the ground and giving A.J. McCarron time to pass throughout the night. That plan worked to perfection as Te’o was kept out of most plays and was unable to show the talent he has in his final game.
Now where does Saban go from here. There is already talk he has nothing left to prove in the college game. He has won four National Championships as a collegiate coach, three at Alabama and one at LSU before bolting to the Miami Dolphins on Christmas day in 2004. At, age 61, what Saban wants to do with the rest of his career needs to be decided quickly.
Before the season Saban signed an extension through the 2019 season. This set Saban’s total compensation, not including various bonuses or outside income, at more than $5.3 million for 2012. The final year of the contract will pay Saban more than $5.96 million in 2019. Incremental annual increases in Saban’s pay average $5.62 million per year over the full term.
It’s no secret the Cleveland Browns want Saban and are willing to give him complete control over the football operations. Saban felt that was missing during his two year tenure in Miami and led to his departure. Now does he feel he has unfinished business at the pro level? Saban himself, says no.
“I don’t have any unfinished business in the NFL. … It’s not something I’m concerned about. It’s not even anything I want to do.”
Yet he also said he wasn’t leaving LSU, and wasn’t taking the Alabama job either.
Saban’s contract demands are simply a blink of the eye to Browns owner Jimmy Haslam. Reports emerged two weeks ago the Browns were willing to give Saban a $10 million per year deal, with a stake in team ownership. Before you say Saban wouldn’t want the Cleveland job, remember he spent four years there as defensive coordinator under Bill Belichick in the early ‘90s. He also worked in Cleveland with Michael Lombardi, rumored to be the next GM for the Browns. Saban played and coached at Kent State. He grew up in West Virginia, so he knows the area well.
Much has been made of Saban’s feelings and most importantly, his wife. She was the main instigator in the family leaving LSU for Miami, and then going to Alabama. She is the coach’s main confidant. One would think Jimmy Haslam will be making one more phone call to Saban sometime Tuesday and offer him the world, especially after the Chip Kelly fiasco.
Cleveland would be a challenge. And it’s a win-win for Saban. He is already known as one of the greatest college football coaches of all time. On the other hand, he is also known as a coach who tried the pro’s, and flopped. Much in the same way Steve Spurrier, Bud Wilkinson and Bobby Petrino failed. Just think, if Saban took the Browns to the Super Bowl win, that would remove any speck of doubt about his greatness as a coach.
And his name in Cleveland would be etched in stone with Paul Brown.
Dave Mitchell co-hosts with Mark Donahue the UST talk show “Ohio Baseball Weekly,” highlighting the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds. The Show return in March, 2013.