Let's agree right up front that Nick Saban can be, at times, well, a bit short- no, let me re-phrase that: He can tend to be a bit testy. But after getting to know him in small slices, he can also be, well, human. While the Alabama coach is certainly driven, he, like the rest of us, can be insecure, emotional, and prone to feelings of doubt. That's why he has to feel satisfied leaving his old stomping ground with his most satisfying South Florida memory.
How dominating was the Crimson Tide's beatdown of Notre Dame? By midway through the first quarter, the folks with ESPN commenced with their shots of AJ McCarron's girlfriend- network execs usually leave those for when the game's outcome is not in doubt (OK, I guess it was over after the first drive). From the moment the score was 14-0, the beatdown was on, and the ESPN folks saw a potential record TV audience shrink.
This was the kind of performance that Saban wished he saw when he was the coach of the Miami Dolphins. The Alabama offensive linemen looked like they were facing Pee Wee Herman, leading the Tide backs to 265 rushing yards. Notre Dame's vaunted defensive line had allowed an average of 90 rushing yards per game. During my return flight I sat next to two Notre Dame fans who told me when they looked at how the Bama O-line was manhandling their team, they taught the Irish looked like a high school team. I think you will agree with them.
And AJ McCarron? At one point in the first half, Bama Boy had a quarterback rating of 230. 4 TD passes, no turnovers, no picks. Now if only the kid can grab as many Twitter followers as his girlfriend Katherine Webb.
Was this Nick Saban's best Alabama team? Nope- in fact the coach told me that he believes his players overachieved. But once again, when top-ranked teams lost (Oregon and K-State), the Tide pounced. Saban doled out his "consistency in performance" speech and there you had it- a third national championship in four years for the Crimson Tide. And Nick Saban? On Tuesday, he left the Miami area once again, this time having no regrets.
Random questions following my 8-day stay in Fort Lauderdale:
Where does all the money come from?... Was that really Steven Speilberg's yacht?... How gutsy was Barrett Jones playing on that injured foot?... I'm no Bob Costas, but with hundreds of media folks wandering the media hotel, who are these guys?... Is Vince Vaughn taller than he appears in movies? (Yep)... Is Jon Bon Jovi shorter than he appears in videos? (yep)... Is Joe Namath looking tanned and healthy at the age of 69, and why didn't I stay at his place in Jupiter longer to hear more great stories?... Can you believe that Mal Moore now owns a championship ring for each of his ten fingers?... Can a media guy get a bottle of water at the hotel please?... Is D.J. Fluker really that big?... Is Harbor Beach a great place to take your kids on vacation? (Yes, if you have the money)... Did a wilty room service house salad really cost me $23?... Why can't the Crimson Tide win it all again next year?... Even if Milliner, Lacy and Fluker turn pro?... Was the game telecast the most-watched program in TV cable history? (Nope- Auburn-Oregon is #1 all-time)... Is navigating Sun Life Stadium like trying to find your way through a maze?... Did I just enter the stadium through the dugout?... Can you find any better kid than the emotional Carson Tinker?... Did I really see what I saw on South Beach?... Do I know any more about laptops than when I started the trip?... Are AJ McCarron and Barrett Jones over the spat?... Would you rather have seen Alabama play Oregon?... Would Oregon, Georgia and Florida have all whipped up on Notre Dame?... Was I surprised to see Nick Saban agree to join me live on the Fox6 post-game show late Monday night? (I appreciate his patience)... Are Notre Dame fans over spending all of that money only to see that football game?... Has Alabama just scored again?... Am I happy to be back to my wife and kids? (a no brainer)... Do I have today off to clean the garage and do laundry before heading back to the anchor desk?... Should I sign off now?
Congratulations to Crimson Tide. I have a feeling I should set a few days aside next January for a trip to Pasadena.