Ole Miss Recap: Imperfect Perfection is the Best Perfection of All?
First, I must apologize.
Like a football, which is so stretched and warped that it bounces and flutters as unpredictably as a dropped walrus, our Lord-God saw it fit to swell and shape time so it’ll never quite fit within the matrices of human logic.
For those of you reading this, those of you stuck in time, the past is forever behind and the future is only speculation. You have two options and you pursue them both; you concentrate on the unknown of one and the immutability of the other. I, on the other hand, rush back and forth with time, as if stuck in a rapid river, racing and whirling and simply trying to keep up. Eons and eras overlay each other. My brain scrambles as they come together and distort. In other words, I’ve been known to make a few tiny mistakes of disorientation. In other words, it’s natural, and it’s a small part of my life.
For you, who are stuck in time, my mistake might seem massive. I’ve been promising the season of perfection, a consummate Saban, a monolithic performance by the monolith of college football. But as I watched the game on your September 19, 2015, what I witnessed was the opposite: an implosion, a crumbling, a defecation most pure. The turnovers and penalties and a weakness at quarterback in the first two games may have hinted at this had I been paying attention, but after this one, I flipped off the TV, humbled and shocked. I returned to my almanacs and atlases and star charts. I saw my mistake.
I watched in horror, in horror, as what should have been the perfect team collapsed. The first half went like this: Ole Miss won the coin flip and deferred and kicked off and the Horror received the ball and promptly fumbled, giving away 3 points in the first minute. Early in the second quarter the Horror threw a fluttery deep ball and Ole Miss intercepted it, the horror, and returned it 28 yards to the Alabama 26. Ole Miss scored a touchdown, the horror, and kicked off and the Horror received it and fumbled a second time and the score was suddenly 17–3, the horror, the horror. And the Horror replaced the Horror, and suddenly we had a new quarterback, a new old quarterback, poised to throw more interceptions, and the Horror was throwing and the Horror was still back there receiving kicks primed to fumble again if given the chance.
Somehow, after three turnovers, Alabama was only down a touchdown at half. So there was hope. But Jesus-Christ Lord-God, it was almost 11:30 Eastern and the second half hadn’t even started. I wanted to go to bed. I should have gone to bed. I did not.
At some point during the haze of the second half, I realized how different Lane Kiffin was than any other offensive coordinator we’ve ever seen in the Saban era. Or, at least, Saban gives him more freedom than he’s ever allowed another OC. It’s hard to take our team seriously when our sideline is flashing pictures of Yosemite Sam and Taco Bell, and yet it’s happening and it shouldn’t be. It just isn’t right. I also realized that for Kiffin’s offense to work, it needs at least one great quarterback or one great deep receiver. This Alabama offense has neither, so almost every forced deep pass kamikazed to the ground ten yards from the nearest receiver or settled majestically into the hands of an Ole Miss defender.
Clearly Kiffin’s offense has already taken more risks than all of Saban’s past offenses put together, and it shows how a risky offense leads to lots of points for the other team. It’s like we’re fielding two different teams with two different philosophies, and though logically it seems like it could work, it’s another one of these unsolvable conundrums.
As you may have guessed, time travelers develop little obsessions. Like all humans we’re collectors, of both things and experience. That’s why I came to Tuscaloosa to witness the perfect season of football, and that’s why I’ll be making my way to the premiers of all 80 Chaplin films and the release parties of all 56 Prince albums. I should have left first thing this morning. I should not have allowed myself to spiral down the click-hole of Yahoo! Sports.
In another article written at a third-grade level, the reactionary Pat Forde took 500 words to claim, without any facts, that the Saban dynasty is now crumbling at its foundation. Of course, Mr. Forde doesn’t have the luxury of seeing the future as I do, but he surely has access to the recent past. Let me put this simply: over the last 7 years, the Alabama football team has gone 84–11, won 3 national championships and won the SEC three additional times. Last year, they went into the playoff seeded #1 and their season ended one game away from playing for the national championship. Sure, it’s been two seasons (probably three after this loss) since Alabama’s proved to be the best team in college football, but the team has shown tremendous consistency overall. The consistency of a dynasty.
What Forde didn’t mention is something I find way more interesting, and in essence is a measure of the success he claims is faltering. In the last 7 years, Alabama’s recruiting has possibly been too good. The team loses 3–5 superstar juniors every year to the first or second round of the draft, forcing Alabama into more rebuilding than other teams. In fact, it seems, almost every year is now a rebuilding year. Football isn’t like basketball where an eighteen year old with enough talent can show up and dominate. On Alabama, the talent gets developed just to the point of absolute fruition, absolute superstardom, and then it’s gone to the NFL. Saban’s working on a development schedule of 3 years when all other coaches are working on 4. That’s a tremendous thing to overcome, maybe impossible.
Lots of concerned Bama-fan-faces in this one. No tears, just shock. This wasn’t a heartbreaking game so much as it was a glimpse at an alternate reality. Nothing about this game showed us the Bama we’ve come to know, and it didn’t inspire sadness so much as bewilderment.
While fans leaving with ten minutes to go is an embarrassment, entitlement is a weird thing in sports. These players and this team certainly deserve the fan’s respect, and part of that contract requires showing up and staying for the whole game, but these fans just couldn’t watch what they couldn’t understand, and so they left. On the field, the players were wearing the right uniforms, but even during the Shula years and the darkness of the NCAA sanctions, Alabama had never lost two in a row to Ole Miss and certainly not in the fashion they lost these two games.
We’re all going to have to go home and check our star charts and recalculate and rethink everything we thought we knew.
Since you are an astute reader, you’ve probably noticed that us future beings like to talk vague and in cliché. Sometimes you might even suspect we’re lying and we might not be from the future at all. But while this may not have turned out to be the perfect season I promised, that season is coming (sometime in the next 100 years by my calculation). Like all seasons, this season is simply a preparation for it. We correct ourselves and we forget and we float on.
Sad emoticon. Bama loses 43–37.