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Saban clarifies perceived dig at Auburn

Nick Saban AP

Many members of the extended Auburn football family, already on edge over numerous accusations levied against the program in the months since taking home the crystal, got their unmentionables all wadded up yet again over a comment attributed to Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

For those unfamiliar with the situation, the Denver Broncos on Wednesday posted quotes from executive vice president of football operations John Elway regarding a visit he took to Tuscaloosa recently.

“One of the interesting things is we went down and saw Nick Saban when we were down at Alabama’s Pro Day,” Elway said according to the NFL club’s official website, “and we’re talking about obviously all of his players, and then we asked him about Cam, and he said that team would not have won four games if it wasn’t for Cam Newton. That tells you how much of a special player he is.”

Of course, that was taken as some kind of a backhanded jab by many an AU fan — as my email inbox can attest — that the Tigers were merely a one-man football wrecking crew (coughcoughtheykindawerecoughcough).

While not expressly saying so, Saban heavily intimated Thursday that his words regarding Newton and Auburn’s win total were taken out of context by Elway.

“What I said was it was a compliment to Cam Newton, certainly not a disrespect to Auburn and their team and what they accomplished because they had an outstanding team, they’re national champs, they did a great job,” Saban said on a Crimson Caravan stop by way of the Birmingham News.

“I said that they probably won four games because Cam Newton was the quarterback, four more games. So that was what I said. I don’t know what was reported, I haven’t seen it. And it was really intended to be a compliment to him, the great competitor he was and the way he played this year. He probably impacted his team as much as any player in the country, and it was really intended to be a compliment about Cam Newton’s great performance and winning the Heisman Trophy.”

So, there you have it.  Auburn, per Saban, won four additional games because of Newton, and not that they would’ve only won four games without him.  The reality is, though, there’s simply no way to look back into the rear-view and reassess what a team’s record would’ve been without Player X, although one wouldn’t need to be a rocket surgeon to lay out a compelling case that going through the season unblemished would’ve been borderline impossible without the Heisman winner under center.

The only certainty is that the 2010 Auburn Tigers were the beneficiaries of one of the greatest individual single-season performances the sport has ever seen.  And that there will be some very large shoes to fill in 2011.  Or, as some would say, at least four wins worth of said footwear to fill.

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14 Responses to “Saban clarifies perceived dig at Auburn”
  1. tigersgeaux says: Apr 22, 2011 10:39 AM

    Either way, it is likely true. While we watched so many games on tv that Cam quarterbacked for Auburn’s championship and undefeated team last year and were greatly impressed, it was nothing compared to seeing him in person at a game. The second half come back against Alabama was truly one of the greatest comebacks we have ever seen. The effort against LSU was phenomenal.

    We do not know about all the controversy swirling about him, his father, Miss. State, etc. It is just that he was one of the very best quarterbacks we have ever seen, who could do it all for his team, run, pass, lead by example, etc.

    Saban is one of the very best college football coaches. He coached LSU to a national championship and has coached Alabama to a national championship. That is rare. I don’t know what he actually said, but either way, it is an opinion, ,that is probably true either way. It doesn’t matter, though, because Cam was the QB for Auburn, and Auburn did win all their games and did win the BCS national championship and he did win the Heisman. That is not opinion. That is fact.

    With so many loses of great talent from last year, including Cam, Auburn will have a hard time in the SEC West this year.

    We can’t wait until the season starts! Wish it was tomorrow!!!!! ugh. TigersGeaux!

  2. thompgk says: Apr 22, 2011 10:45 AM

    Auburn won 8 games with a road-heavy schedule in 2009 and Chris Todd at QB. This year they had just about all of their tough games at home.

    We have 31 juniors and seniors leaving this year for NFL and life.

    The 2010 team would have won 10 games with Neil Caudle (5th year former Elite 11 QB).

    Absurd to think that the only games Auburn would have won are the gimme homecoming type games.

  3. 11inthebox says: Apr 22, 2011 11:26 AM

    Saban has nothing to apologize for. His original statement–the way it was reported–is absolutely correct.

  4. Deb says: Apr 22, 2011 11:57 AM

    How is this controversial? Saban was telling Elway just what JT said: “[T]he 2010 Auburn Tigers were the beneficiaries of one of the greatest individual single-season performances the sport has ever seen.”

    That’s true no matter what happened with Newton’s dad or how he came to be at Auburn. I personally don’t believe run-first spread-offense QBs translate well to the NFL as QBs. But Newton is a phenomenal athlete who could be a tremendous success if he transitioned to another position, as could Tebow.

  5. tryagainplease says: Apr 22, 2011 12:07 PM

    ‘Saban has nothing to apologize for. His original statement–the way it was reported–is absolutely correct.’

    the truth, if fact he may have been being generous.

  6. overratedgators says: Apr 22, 2011 12:11 PM

    So, having a Heisman winner on your team can be a difference maker. Huh. Who knew. How is this even remotely controversial?

    The only thing I see wrong with Saban’s statement is that he wasn’t careful with his wording. What he should have said was Auburn wouldn’t have won four games had they not bought a quarterback for $180,000.

  7. pjduffey says: Apr 22, 2011 12:59 PM

    Four games seems to be a little low; I’d have to look at their schedule and the scores to come up with my own estimate.

    That said, Auburn’s whining is pathetic. First, it was meant as a compliment to one of their players–a compliment given by the head coach of a rival team! Second, it was probably not meant as an exact figure; it sounds like he was just trying to illustrate that they would not have been that great a team without Cam. Third, it can’t be THAT far off from the truth. How many games would it have been? 6? 7? As JT said, you can’t use hindsight in these situations but there is little doubt that he was a HUGE factor in every meaningful game for them.

  8. 78lion says: Apr 22, 2011 1:33 PM

    In other news, Nick Saban has just set a new world record in the backstroke.

  9. frug says: Apr 22, 2011 2:49 PM

    Saban continued to lavish praise on Newton by noting that MSU refusal to meet his father’s financial demands would be remembered as one of the worst business decisions in the history of college sports.

  10. Deb says: Apr 22, 2011 7:03 PM

    @78lion …

    Well, Nick’s a political guy and Auburn requires a lot of stroking.

  11. tide4life says: Apr 22, 2011 7:47 PM

    Auburn DOES a lot of stroking . . . .

  12. dcroz says: Apr 22, 2011 9:25 PM

    It’s amazing how godlike Auburn fans think Nick Saban is. They blame him for the Cam/Cecil Newton controversy (even though that was Mississippi State), they blame him for the investigation of their recruitment of two prospects in Louisiana (that was LSU), they blame him for four of their players committing armed robbery, for four of their former players accusing boosters of making illegal payments, and for the NCAA investigating the “Tiger Prowl” (all of that being self-inflicted). They’re so paranoid about Saban, you’d have to think they blame him any time their wives refuse to have sex with them.

    Auburn fans have always been a rather bitter bunch, never seeming to be able to get that elusive first national title since 1957 and wanting to be considered one of college football’s greatest programs, while all the time watching their biggest rivals across the state become the things they always wanted to be. Hell, if they were in almost any other state in the country, they’d either be the dominant program or be in a state so huge (like Texas or California) that they could easily carve out their own separate niche. You’d think that finally winning that national title would make them happy, but if anything they have become even MORE embittered and defensive, even before all the charges (save about Cam) emerged towards their program.

    In any case, it’s time Auburn folks stop blaming their problems on Saban and the team he coaches, and start looking elsewhere for answers.

  13. gatiger says: Apr 22, 2011 10:01 PM

    Whichever way Saban meant it, I don’t take it as an insult. When you have a dominant player like that (or Tebow for instance) you use them to win.

    You never know how the rest of the team may have developed because you so rely on that player.

    Would Texas have won a national championship without Vince Young, doubt it. Would Bama have won without Ingram? Maybe…they were actually pretty balanced…bad example.

    Anyway, happens pretty frequently that the top team(s) of a year have a dominant player.

  14. Deb says: Apr 22, 2011 11:38 PM

    @dcroz …

    That was so eloquent! And so true :)

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