Joe Medley: Rout of UT, fans give Saban case of happies
by Joe Medley
jmedley@annistonstar.com
Oct 26, 2013 | 2604 views |  0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Alabama defensive back Landon Collins (26) celebrates a big defensive stop against Tennessee. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
Alabama defensive back Landon Collins (26) celebrates a big defensive stop against Tennessee. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
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TUSCALOOSA -- Nick Saban is happy. Like, he’s happy, happy, happy after Alabama’s 45-10 thrashing of Tennessee on Saturday.

Happy with the players.

Happy with the coaches.

Happy with fans staying to the end of the game, though a noticeable number didn’t.

Oh, and he’s happy to be at Alabama.

There, does that just about address everything that came up this week?

Does that cover the “clutter,” some of which Saban helped to generate this week?

It’s good for Saban to clear up everything, because there could be a really good discussion about how Saban’s seventh Alabama team has rounded into yet another dominant, Saban-led Alabama team. In fact, the Tennessee game looked like a good occasion to have that discussion.

Not sure what happened to the Tennessee team that nearly upset Georgia and did upset South Carolina in its past two games. Alabama made those Vols no-shows Saturday.

It wasn’t a game for a half. It wasn’t a game for a quarter.

Alabama’s offensive line, which drew the wrong kind of attention early in the season, dominated and has for four games now.

Wide receiver Amari Cooper scored another touchdown, his second of the season, and had 75 yards on five catches. He would have caught another touchdown bomb, if not for a rare AJ McCarron overthrow.

Cooper didn’t even have the best day among Alabama wide receivers. That went to Kevin Norwood, who caught six passes for 112 yards.

Norwood rewarded all who stayed until at least the five-minute mark of the third quarter with a spectacular catch -- turning to adjust to a deep, back-shoulder throw and catching at full extension of his arms, as he fell back.

It was that kind of performance for Alabama. It made every crimson heart happy, and it made the head coach happy.

But wait, there were other, more pressing issues on this day, all of which could be summed up with one fan’s sign: “Saban, we’ll stay for 60 (game minutes) if you stay FOREVER.”

The sign, of course, was addressed to Saban, who became quite the topic of conversation this week. Some of it was his fault.

There were Internet reports about his wife house hunting in Austin, Texas, home to the University of Texas. That part wasn’t Saban’s fault … well, except for a career history that makes rumors about him eyeing the next job hard to dismiss.

Saban was asked about the sign in the postgame and whether he’d agree to the proposal it makes.

“Sounds like a good deal to me,” Saban said. “I mean, I love it here, and I’m too damned old to go someplace else and start all over. I can tell you that.

“I don’t really make those decisions. I know Ms. Terry likes it here.”

But the whole “stay-for-60” thing was Saban’s fault. He made noise this week about fans leaving early from blowout games, and it became a national story.

The University of Alabama went as far as suspending block seating reserved for some student organizations for the Tennessee game. Those organizations sign agreements to stay all four quarters.

So, while Saban’s team put on a dominant show in a traditional rivalry game, it was too tempting to check the stands. With every touchdown and expansion of Alabama’s lead came time to check.

The blocked seats stayed populated for all four quarters, but other areas of the stadium slowly opened, especially the upper decks. The South upper deck looked about half full by game’s end.

Reporters heading down to the field in the fourth quarter did so as a stream of fans passed going the other way.

As for the school’s decision to suspend seating, Saban said school officials didn’t seek his opinion. He “read it in the paper like everybody else.”

Of course, he spoke out on his weekly radio show Thursday. When Saban speaks, people hear. ESPN hears.

Funny how that works.

Well, for the record, Saban came away from Saturday’s game with nothing but happy things to say.

“I’m really happy, our players are really happy, and I hope our fans are really happy,” he said. “I certainly appreciated our fans today. They stayed for the game and did a great job of supporting our team. It was a great atmosphere for our players to play in.”

Well, that ended well.

And now, let’s have more discussion about Alabama’s dominant performance. Oh wait, we’re out of time and space.

Sports columnist Joe Medley: 256-235-3576, jmedley@annistonstar.com. On Twitter @jmedley_star.

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