BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The following is a commentary blog from FOX6 Sports Director Rick Karle:
Perhaps it was the fact that Alabama's new offensive coordinator was coaching from the sideline.
Perhaps it was that screen grab with less than two minutes remaining in the first quarter that went viral.
As I watched Alabama dispose of West Virginia on Saturday, Nick Saban looked like a concerned father ready to lay a butt-whoopin' on his son for arriving home from a date an hour late.
While OC Lane Kiffin is indeed young enough to be Saban's son (there is a 24-year age difference), I must say that while Kiffin bashers are looking for every reason to hate, I'm thinking this unique pairing just might work out.
You know Nick Saban has to bristle when he sees national networks feature stories titled "Alabama's Odd Couple." One coach testy and often despised by certain fan bases, the other coach testy and often despised by certain fan bases.
Reality? These guys know more about football than the combined population of the 205--and those who hate may just see the Crimson Tide roll into the final four later this season.
Early last week, Saban said that he would not interfere with Kiffin's play calling. Oh, he'd be there as a sounding board and always ready to give advice (as in, "Uh, Lane, how about trying the no-huddle, I think Blake may be more comfortable with that.")
Still, it appeared to many watching Saturday's game that Saban took his Jerry Jones pill before the game. Could that be why Saban came to Kiffin's defense in his post-game news conference?
His voice level rising, his expression dead serous, said Saban after the 33-23 win, "You know, the guy's a really good coach now. You guys need to fess up to that. Most places that don't like him, it's because he left, and they were mad because he left. They weren't mad because of anything he did while he was there."
There it was, right out in the open: Nick Saban reminding the world that his OC is a really good coach (Raiders 5-15, Tennessee 7-6, but I digress). After a ten point win. After the first game of the season.
And you know something? I believe Saban is right. Lane Kiffin can coach in his current role, and he proved it Saturday. Think about it: This 39-year-old took a first-time starting quarterback and helped the Tide gain 538 yards.
Blake Sims went 24-33, 250 yards through the air, setting an all-time UA record for number of attempts and completions in a game for a first-time starter.
Kiffin saw TJ Yeldon run for 126 yards. He saw Derrick Henry run for 113 yards. He used Sims in the pistol, giving his QB a few more split seconds to make decisions.
He had Sims target Amari Cooper, his 12 receptions vs WVU just one catch off the all-time single game mark set by DJ Hall back in 2007.
And he did it with none other than one of the most intimidating head coaches in America hovering over him like a 12-year old ready to grab some Little Debbies out of Kiffin's lunch box.
Will Lane Kiffin eventually head to the press box to call plays? Will he remain on the sideline?
If Kiffin continues to lead this smash-mouth offense to the promise land he can call plays from the student section.
And to all of the Lane Kiffin haters? The Bama OC, together will his new boss that helps form Bama's odd couple, may just have the last laugh.