Nick Saban dismissive about his 11-0 record against former assistants

Jan 05, 2018, 12:25
Nick Saban dismissive about his 11-0 record against former assistants

Believe me, SEC haters, I get it.

- With Anfernee Jennings having undergone surgery, the starting outside linebacker will not be available Monday.

After the Tide's running backs were limited to just 18 carries in the Iron Bowl-despite averaging nearly seven yards a pop-Alabama leaned heavily on its ground game in a demolition of Clemson, with Damien Harris the featured back in a talented, physical four-man rotation.

Obviously the opponent's crowd recognizes it as Southeastern Conference, Southeastern Conference.

It's a quick turnaround for Monday night's College Football Playoff national championship game against Alabama at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Smart has taken the Bulldogs to the doorstep of a national title in just his second season at Georgia, but he'll face his toughest test yet in taking on his former boss.

Here are 11 things you may not know about Smart. The Tigers open the 2018 season against Washington in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game, but they'll also travel to Georgia and Alabama next year. The two teams have gotten this far on the strength of their defenses, which are among the best in the country. Yes, conference championships are important and committee members are instructed to weigh those in a champion's favor when other factors like strength of schedule or game dominance can't distinguish between teams.

While the cleverness of a Richter scale reference while in Southern California did show a keen sense of place, an ear that has heard too much college football chatter in life might have remembered a remark in Greater Phoenix, two Januarys prior. Alabama made a commitment to using its backs more in the Sugar Bowl, and that commitment likely will continue. Saban also has a win over McElwain when he was the head coach at Colorado State. But the Buckeyes lost twice.

Oklahoma gave up 45 points in regulation and 54 points overall. "When you start dealing with a lot of outside influences on your kids' time, you've got to be smart as a coach and understand you've got to get the most out of them, but we've got to be smart with our practice time and our recovery time". Ohio State's clunker at Iowa cost it a playoff spot. In the postgame remarks, Saban not only expressed his appreciation and admiration for Smart, who was just then leaving for Georgia.

Hope that 7-1 bowl record keeps the Big Ten warm this winter. The conference finished 1-8, and USC and Washington lost in their New Year's Day Six appearances. And hat's off to the Sun Belt, with its 4-1 mark highlighted by the Troy Trojans.

Georgia's offense, of course, won't put up those types of numbers against Nick Saban's defense. But most folks expected that first meeting to come in an SEC Championship Game, not the National Championship Game. I don't think any more energy was wasted on celebration. When Smart began by saying, "Yeah, I'm really disappointed and upset", it sounded as if a winning coach might be committing sarcasm over an unwanted question. "Let's just finish this season off right".

On Jan. 29, 2004, Saban hired 28-year-old Kirby Smart to coach his defensive backs at LSU, whereupon Smart issued a statement reading, "Coach Saban is known as one of the best defensive coaches in all of football, and to be able to coach alongside him and learn from him is something special".

And the haters will have to.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey can live with that.

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