The following is a commentary blog from FOX6 Sports Director Rick Karle:
There's good news to bring both Alabama football fans and those ever-friendly media types who cover the Crimson Tide: Alabama is now ranked #1 in the Amway Top-25 Coaches Poll. That of course is always a great thing for Bama fans as they will proudly wear that ranking on their chests regardless of the time of year. It's also a great thing for the media, because when Bama gets to be ranked #1 during the regular season, the head coach of the Crimson Tide is about to go off.
Let's face it- there's no coach out there who loves being ranked #1 more than Nick Saban, but the catch here is that he wants to be ranked #1 after the national championship game. Oh, Saban knows that being ranked #1 toward the end of the season assures him of getting his team to a title game, but for the veteran coach, I'm thinking he just as soon be ranked #2 heading into bowl season.
You see, Nick Saban hates talking about expectations, and seemingly each and every year his team jumps to #1 in the rankings, he lets his fan base (through the media) know he wants nothing to do with talk of championships with so much work left to do. Premature talk of championship celebrations grate at this coach like nothing else, in his mind only serving to dumb down his player's efforts in scheduled upcoming games.
So here's what lies ahead of us this week: Either on Monday or Wednesday, (when Saban meets the media), some young, green reporter will grab that floating microphone, stand up and say, "Uh, coach, you likely know that your team is now ranked #1 in the Amway Coaches Poll- do you have any response to that?" And just like my dog on a steak bone, Saban will bark loudly, saying things such as, "Look, we have a lot of work to do to improve as a team, aight? Our players are about to face a fine Ole Miss team that can beat us if we do not make strides this week in practice. So I really don't give a rip if we are ranked #1 because I'm more concerned with getting these players in their right state of mind." And then, after turning to UA's Jeff Purinton for a "Saban pause", the coach will turn back to the cameras and say, "I certainly respect the job the coaches do in their poll, and I have a vote in that poll myself, but can we talk about the game?"
Polls. Expectations. Clutter. Saban wants nothing to throw him off his schedule, and talk of his team being #1 is on number one his list of no-no's. Nick Saban is a man of habit. He likes two Little Debbie's in the morning with black coffee, he likes to glance at the Weather Channel and then head into work just past 7 am, and he likes grilled chicken salad for lunch. He likes his practice vest, dinnertime dress khakis with no socks, and when necessary working his assistants late into the night.
So when some young reporter throws Saban off his game by asking about being ranked #1, it would be best for that reporter to buckle up. And it would also be a good idea to make sure Fox6 has a camera present, because none of us ever want to miss this kind of entertainment.