Given the current climate surrounding the game of college football, especially as it pertains to head injuries and with a Rutgers player paralyzed from the neck down still fresh in everyone’s mind, recent comments coming from Alabama head coach Nick Saban may not sit well with some.
For old-school souls, however, it will be music to their ears. Or their hearing aids, as the case may be.
Following the Tide’s win Saturday over Ole Miss, Saban let loose a diatribe on the state of college football, railing against what he perceives to be the lack of toughness of today’s players as compared to the good ol’ days.
“That’s what I tell the players all the time, and they hate to hear it, but now I’m going to say it publicly so they can really get upset about it,” Saban said according to al.com, at which point a member of the school’s media relations was heard to utter “forget it, he’s rolling.”
“You’re telling the other guy you’re beating me up, I’m hurt and I’m going to stay down here. It’s just like a boxer. If you go down, get up. If you’ve got to come out for a play, come out for a play. But that’s just me. I’m old-fashioned. I know they don’t make ‘em like they used to. …
“But a guy lays on the ground and eight trainers go out there and everybody thinks he’s hurt and he gets up and runs off the field. When I played, my coach, you wouldn’t want to meet him on the sideline. So if you stayed down, you’d better really be hurt.”
While we certainly agree with a lot of what Saban said — to a certain extent — there’s also something that he’s either failed to take into account or simply forgot as he was trying to get his message across. Today’s players are simply bigger, stronger and faster than anything the coach or his football forefathers ever had to face.
All of that mass moving at a greater velocity? It’s the perfect recipe for not only more injuries, but more severe injuries as well. That’s an opinion shared by at least one member of the Tide football program.
“They don’t really, because those guys are slower than we were,” wide receiver Marquis Maze said. “They don’t make guys like they make them now. That’s how I joke back with him. Back in their day, they played with leather helmets. Didn’t have much protection.”
Certainly some players may take advantage of the heightened sense of awareness surrounding the safety issues in the game by taking an on-field siesta after what may appear to be an innocuous collision, but the fact is there’s an atmosphere that leans toward erring on the side of caution these days.
Was Saban wrong for blasting the toughness of today’s players? That’s for others to decide, although reigning Heisman winner Mark Ingram, perhaps with his tongue stretching toward one of his cheek,s agreed with his boss.
“He’s our coach,” Ingram said. “Whatever he says, whatever he does, we’re always behind him. … If that’s what he says, then that’s what’s right.”
Ingram having his coach’s back notwithstanding, there’s little doubt that Saban, right or wrong, will likely catch some flack and a little heat for his most recent ascent to the pulpit.
(Tip O’ the Cap: Mr. SEC.com)