Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Et Tu, Nick?

I think it's fair to say that in the Deep South, where I grew up, football is more than just a sport. It's family, friendship, loyalty, roots, passion, religion, money, society, pride, and much, much more. Season tickets in some places are passed on in wills. My brother-in-law, as die-hard a Louisiana State University fan as you'll find anywhere, used to stop the car in Alabama so his kids could go to the bathroom there on their way back to Virginia. "If you're gonna leave it anywhere," he'd say, "leave it on the Crimson Tide." And this is a college educated lawyer we're talking about here. Suffice it to say, lots of people in Louisiana bleed purple and gold, LSU's colors.

Like I said, football is serious business. And in that family business, at least in Louisiana, there is no more revered a figure than Nick Saban. Coach Saban took the LSU Tigers to a national championship after years of disappointment under previous leadership. He restored the program to national prominence and brought pride to a city and school sorely in need of it.

When Saban was deciding whether or not to take the NFL's Miami Dolphins head coaching job two years ago, my family were on tenterhooks. It was Christmas time, but my brother hung on the radio and TV every moment, waiting to hear the decision. When it was announced that Coach was leaving, it felt like a member of the family was disowning his kin. Still, everyone wished him well, sincerely thanked him for the championship he'd done, and sent him on his way with fondness and love.

Until today, I suspect, because Nick Saban just announced he's leaving the Miami Dolphins to take the head coaching job at the University of Alabama, one of LSU's storied and most hated rivals.

I know it's just a business to the guys who are in the business, but damn, that smarts for those to whom it's so, so much more.


Anonymous said...

I'm taking a break from the Sugar Bowl, listening to those announcers bad-mouth LSU. No wonder my brothers mute the TV and listen to LSU radio! Right now, the Tigers are winning. Nick Saban -- et tu, Brutus? Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Best line I've heard so far in the Sugar Bowl -- Terry Bradshaw on why he didn't go to LSU. "I didn't pass the ACT." Last time I looked, it's just a numerical score...


JimmyMac said...

Apparently, he's never seen The Godfather, or he would know to never go against the family.
Now, I will have to deny his existance, just as I have done for a brother I used to have and a nephew I used to have, both of who betrayed the family by going to that school. He will now be know as "the coach who's name cannot be spoken!"
Next time I pass through Tuscaloosa, I'll be sure to leave him a special package.