Saturday, December 14, 2013

Nick Saban vs. Mack Brown: It's All About the Hair

They were both born in 1951.  Mack Brown, head coach at the University of Texas, is three months older than Nick Saban, head coach at the University of Alabama.

As head coaches at their respective schools, they both have appeared multiple times in the BCS National Championship game.  Saban has the better overall record in the BCS title game among the two of them, 3-0 to Brown's 1-1 (Saban won one other in his only appearance as head coach of LSU, so he is 4-0-overall).

Saban won the one encounter that pitted them directly against each other.

In that 2009 season championship game (it was the 2010 BCS game), Alabama defeated Texas, 37-21.  It was the game that Heisman trophy winner, Mark Ingram, rushed for more than 100 yards and two touchdowns.  But, it is most remembered as the game that Colt McCoy went down early in with a freak injury to his shoulder.

McCoy had played every game of his four year career as a starter (more than 50) and took many vicious hits without having to come out of a game.  This particular one jarred him at the most unfortunate of moments. Without McCoy, Texas didn't really stand a chance to win, although they did make a comeback late to make the game closer.

If this one game had been played without McCoy getting hurt and he had led them to victory, it would have taken one national championship away from Saban and would have given Brown one more, thus closing the gap considerably between them for best BCS record (and how might that one game have changed future records, recruiting for them both-including Saban's next couple of Alabama championships?)

These guys are competitors.  They are fiery, heated competitors who want to be known as the best in their field.  Right now, Brown can't say it.  Saban can.  Saban has earned the moniker of 'best in the biz', just as Brown earned it and then lost it a few years back.

What's the edge that Saban has on Brown?  It's all about recruiting, or, in other words, it's all about the hair.

The recent '60 Minutes' piece made it pretty clear that Saban is a marketing machine and he's in this to become legendary, even more legendary than Bear Bryant.  He wants to dominate and he believes his feisty, focused, football personality along with his youthful appearance is what attracts the best recruits.

For a recruit, going to Alabama is like having 'Benjamins' for pupils.  The next step is the NFL.

Brown is retiring now and won't have to compete against Saban-his football recruiting or hairstyle, any longer.

One day after 62 year-old, Nick Saban, signed a multi-year/multi-million dollar extension, 62 year-old Mack Brown called it quits.

Mack Brown stewed hard over all the dismissals he'd gone through this season.  He wanted to fight back and show he could build a title contender all over again.

But, it's almost impossible to do it all over again in sports once the magic is gone.  Sports is so much about momentum, fluidity, staying current, topical and progressive.

The lesson to be learned here for the pretentious and ego-driven coach is that Brown needed to get rid of the gray years ago.  Saban figured this out himself, years ago.

Saban paints his hair and couldn't imagine looking gray and old.  Brown stayed true to himself and never tried to be someone he wasn't.  In the messed up world of college football, it seems perfectly normal that Saban will be around at his age to keep pressing the record books further and that Brown, at the same age, is at home doing some gardening.

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