Coaching Until End Has Consequences

Nick Saban

As the clock was winding down in last season's BCS National Championship Game, LSU had thrown in the towel. Stuck deep in the familiar area of their own territory late in the fourth quarter of a 21-0 loss, the Fighting Tigers were punting the ball away.



An Alabama player jumped offsides and there was much bemusement from onlookers as Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban went into a tirade aimed at the player. Saban never quits coaching.

There weren't too many things of great interest in Bama's 40-7 win over Florida Atantic last week, but the most talked about development was Alabama giving up a score. The Tide had recorded back-to-back shutouts over Western Kentucky (35-0) and Arkansas (52-0) and led by 40-0 late in the contest.

FAU had a drive going against Alabama's back-up players, and would score a touchdown as the clock ticked under three minutes to play. That drive was helped along by an unusual penalty...against Nick Saban (and a couple of his assistant coaches). It gave the Owls a first down at the Alabama four-yard line.

During Wednesday's Southeastern Conference telephone interviews with league coaches, Saban said, "I shouldn't be commenting on the officials, but we're not supposed to be on the field and we were on the field and we got a penalty for it.

"It should have been a delay of game penalty." The officials charged the Tide with unsportsmanlike conduct, although from a practical standpoint it made no difference.

What about the sideline warning that usually allows one transgression?

"They don't have to warn you," Saban said.

Alabama players are asked to play until the final whistle. Saban insists on no less from himself. He coaches until the end of the game.

"We have a lot of young plaeyrs playing," Saban said. "We have a lot of coaches trying to yell out and help them decide what to do to adjust to what was going on in the game. It's totally my responsibility, our fault.

"I just feel badly that we got a penalty that cost the guys that were out there. They were playing hard. So we take full responsibility for it."

Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley was out of the game by then, but watching the action.

"I thought it was supposed to be a warning, but I'm not going to get into all that," said Mosley. "I figured he could have given us a warning on that one. But things happen.

"I know next time they won't be on the field.

"I saw a picture later of Coach Saban screaming at the ref, so I'm prety sure he got an earful."

Another linebacker, Nico Johnson, understood what was going on. He said the Tide's motto is "Play every play like it's your last play."

Johnson said, "He said he's going to coach to the last whistle and he expects us to play to the last whistle.

"He got on the twos (back-up players) at the end of the Arkansas game a couple of weeks ago. He wanted them to improve, which they did." Same against FAU, Johnson said. Saban is just trying to make them "improve and compete even more than they did the week before."

Saban said, "Look, we coach all of our players all the time. It's not just about the game. It's about developing the players. We're xtrying to help our players get better and use the experience they get out there so they can improve. We're coaching them and it's important to me that they develop.

"Someday these guys are going to have to play."

Alabama has a segment of film study in which there are plays that fall into the category of "The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly." Did the penalty against the coaches make the video?

Johnson said it didn't and that he thought about saying something, but reconsidered.

"Coach knew he made a mistake," Johnson said. "It's no big deal. It happens."

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