Just a Thought (April 26)

When did Spring Games at colleges become such a big thing? I never remember anyone getting excited about spring practice until recently. As a matter of fact, I think Alabama was the first I recall making a big deal made out of it. Now some teams, like Georgia, Alabama, Clemson etc. are packing their stadiums to watch a glorified practice. It makes me think, “news flash……I know who is going to win and lose.’ I’m making a bit of fun but that is a true statement.

Don’t get me wrong, I do get going out and watching your team especially right in the middle of the football drought. As a matter of fact, I even attended the “A-Day” game a couple of years ago with my brother-in-law because loves the Tide and wanted to go see what all the fuss was about. It was a fun day and a neat experience, but the excitement I saw seemed a little out of place.

I suppose it is pretty cool for the players because I remember spring practice being a lot like a stroll through Hades but doing it as fast as possible and all uphill. In other words, it was no fun at all! Now they have taken that incredibly rough thing known as spring practice and turned it into something fun for the players. I totally get that side of the equation but still struggle to understand the draw for fans. While at that particular “A-Day” game I went to I remember thinking, ‘man the Crimson Tide are going to be in serious trouble this year.’ They really looked bad on the field and I thought the dynasty might finally be in decline. Of course, to prove me totally wrong, they won the National Championship again that year. The spring game totally fooled me.

Maybe it was just because the offense and defense were so good they made each other look bad, but I don’t think that was it. What I believe happened was, Nick Saban knew there would be tons of coaches watching and looking for weaknesses. He showed a ton of them when in reality none existed. If he really does that it just solidifies my belief that, although I don’t really like the Tide, Saban may be the greatest coach the sport has ever seen. In fact, he proves to me his genius every time I watch them play. It’s hard to admit, but I wish he were coaching Georgia Tech so I could learn how winning all the time feels.

I’m sure all the Georgia fans reading this are smiling since Kirby Smart learned under Saban and probably knows all the tricks to fooling people. I would be willing to bet that a lot of Georgia fans were feeling kind of blah after watching Jake Fromm not performing up to par in the G-Day game this week. Take heart, it might have been just for show and planned by Smart and his staff. Maybe not, but I don’t think the Dogs showed anything they didn’t want everyone to see. Just like Alabama.

Having said all of that, I think coaches separate themselves into greatness when they learn how to make every situation into a positive for their team. Even if it means letting everyone think there are problems that probably don’t exist. It is all a strategy by really good coaches, even if they don’t realize it themselves. I’m sure the same is true for high school coaches when they play scrimmage games before the season.

Everyone may not be there watching but there will surely be film of the game. Great coaches lead the crowd, and any unwanted spectators, down a path to keep them off the trail. I could be totally wrong, but don’t think so. It makes perfect sense the more I think about it. To be a great coach, one must learn to be a great poker player. Bluff, bluff, bluff and when your opponents think they have you figured out, drop a royal flush on the table and take all the money. I’d really hate to play a game of poker against Saban! Now Georgia faithful, to the extreme disappointment of us GT fans, may have an equally straight faced gambler holding their cards.

It’s just a thought but one worth thinking.