As if the record proved otherwise, the Great Leader is a good fit for Alabama. For one, the team’s followers are about the only people as obsessed with the game as he is and, furthermore, his style of football--disciplined, brutal, hard-line football--matches our history and aesthetics.
Because for college football, its polls and voters and computers, aesthetics are no small matter. For example, long before the table dancers confirmed it, Mike Price’s blocking schemes led us to believe we had hired a coach ill-suited for Alabama football.
Not so today. At nearly every position, from defense to offense, lineman to receiver, the potential of this team gathers toward a fearsome catharsis. Today, dissonance has been removed. We are attuned within our aesthetics.
Yet, if the scuttlebutt is to be believed, an alternative history awaited. For the briefest of moments before the Great Leader came to our university, rumors hinted an audience was requested before Steve Spurrier, head coach of this week’s visiting South Carolina Gamecocks.
The Ol’ Ball Coach’s penchant for downfield passing, his cold fish approach to player development, and eagerness to run up the score--literally and verbally--make him a man as diametrically opposed to every aesthetic of Alabama football as can be imagined.
Save one: he wins.
Or at least he won and is winning again. Hopes were that Spurrier would somehow mold South Carolina of the 2000s into Florida of the 1990s. If anything, they’ve pulled him down to their level. But after seasons of middling performances, the Gamecocks are off to a fast start, with five wins, a top-25 ranking, and a puncher’s chance of more.
Say what you will of Steve Spurrier, but he plays to win. Alabama will get no Kiffin game plan for “moral victory” tomorrow. Not long into his tenure at South Carolina, he scolded the fanbase for applauding the team’s (as the fans deemed it) near-victory.
Or as the Ol’ Ball Coach correctly called it: losing.
One wonders what Spurrier thinks of college football today: his orange punching bag replaced in Knoxville, his alma mater collecting another Heisman and two championships, and his old nemesis barely hanging on in Tallahassee. All while he’s struggling to sign anyone who can find the hot read on a blitz.
If he thinks about it all, he cannot be especially surprised. All men, given time, have their lives defined by their problems more so than their promise.
Limited recruiting base.
If Vegas is right and both teams play to their limits, Alabama should be able to well withstand the puncher’s chance tomorrow and land a few blows of their own. Quite more than a few, really. And without pity.
Because such is nature of competition and there need not be malice in acknowledging it. The Ball Coach knows that as well as he knows there’s no retirement plan for old gunslingers.
Except younger gunslingers.