Now there’s motivation, by George
by Joe Medley
jmedley@annistonstar.com
Nov 07, 2012 | 4935 views |  0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After an emotional win over LSU, Alabama must now turn its attention to the Texas A&M Aggies. (Photo by Bill Haber/Associated Press)
After an emotional win over LSU, Alabama must now turn its attention to the Texas A&M Aggies. (Photo by Bill Haber/Associated Press)
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TUSCALOOSA — Try to imagine Nick Saban thanking a media pundit.

Go ahead and laugh. We’ll play Jeopardy music until you pick yourself up off the floor, but the Alabama coach who pans media fixation on which two teams will play for the national title might want to thank FOX’s Eddie George.

See, top-ranked Alabama just cleared its biggest regular-season hurdle to a third national title in four years, winning 21-17 at LSU.

The Tide did it in emotional fashion, surviving on a game-winning drive inside the final two minutes. The emotion showed through quarterback AJ McCarron’s sideline tears and his run to hug his parents.

It was that kind of night, the kind of night that’s hard to forget … as much as Saban wants his team to forget it and focus on Texas A&M this week.

How did Eddie George help Saban’s cause?

Well, the former Heisman Trophy winner fed the beast that is the ongoing conversation about which two teams will play for the national title. He forwarded the notion of a Bowl Championship Series final without Alabama.

“As far as the best two teams in the country top to bottom, I think we’re looking at Kansas State and Oregon,” he said on Monday’s Dan Patrick Show.

He also said the LSU game showed Alabama’s vulnerabilities. In the event that Alabama plays No. 2 Oregon in the national final,the Crimson Tide defense would not stop Oregon’s frenetic offense.

“They look like they could beat Alabama,” George said. “I don’t see anybody keeping up with the tempo that they have.”

Oh, but the diss didn’t stop there.

“Based on their schedule, no,” George said of Alabama’s worthiness for a berth in the BCS game. “They’ve played absolutely nobody prior to this weekend. That was the biggest question.”

George didn’t say it, but you’re welcome, Nick Saban.

Nick Saban didn’t say thank you, but he did define Alabama’s reality in the wake of a victory in what everyone long saw as by far the scariest game on the Tide’s schedule.

“We have a really good opponent this week, so it’s going to be really important that our players put that game behind them, as emotional as it may have been,” he said Monday. “As I said afterwards, games like that can either bring out the best in you or the worst in you.

“It’s all your choice in terms of how you view the future and what you need to do, relative to the challenges that the next team presents, which is pretty significant in Texas A&M’s case.”

And if Alabama has any trouble shedding the emotional lag from Baton Rouge, George just helped.

Look, we’ve spent the better part of a season saying, “Yeah, but … let’s wait to see what happens at LSU.”

Alabama won and remains No. 1 in the BCS standings and in all three major polls.

Whatever vulnerabilities LSU was good enough to expose, the Tide still has nearly every first-place vote in all three major polls --- 227 out of a possible 234.

Is Texas A&M a scary opponent? Absolutely, and it’s not just the thought of quarterback Johnny Manziel scrambling around against a defense that just got a clinic from Zach Mettenberger.

A&M, No. 15 in the BCS standings, will play Alabama after the Tide’s most emotional game of the year, and the Aggies are the third ranked opponent in a row. It reminds of the Arkansas-Florida-South Carolina stretch of the 2010 schedule.

That didn’t end so well for a defending national champion that held the No. 1 ranking from preseason to that Columbia trip, but that was midseason. This Alabama team has come too far and knows all too well it likely won’t make the BCS game as a one-loss team this year.

And just in case that’s not enough motivation to get the Tide over its near-death experience in Death Valley, Eddie George just showed there remain pundits ready and, perhaps, eager to doubt the Tide.

TUSCALOOSA — Try to imagine Nick Saban thanking a media pundit.

Go ahead and laugh. We’ll play Jeopardy music until you pick yourself up off the floor, but the Alabama coach who pans media fixation on which two teams will play for the national title might want to thank FOX’s Eddie George.

See, top-ranked Alabama just cleared its biggest regular-season hurdle to a third national title in four years, winning 21-17 at LSU.

The Tide did it in emotional fashion, surviving on a game-winning drive inside the final two minutes. The emotion showed through quarterback AJ McCarron’s sideline tears and his run to hug his parents.

It was that kind of night, the kind of night that’s hard to forget … as much as Saban wants his team to forget it and focus on Texas A&M this week.

How did Eddie George help Saban’s cause?

Well, the former Heisman Trophy winner fed the beast that is the ongoing conversation about which two teams will play for the national title. He forwarded the notion of a Bowl Championship Series final without Alabama.

“As far as the best two teams in the country top to bottom, I think we’re looking at Kansas State and Oregon,” he said on Monday’s Dan Patrick Show.

He also said the LSU game showed Alabama’s vulnerabilities. In the event that Alabama plays No. 2 Oregon in the national final,the Crimson Tide defense would not stop Oregon’s frenetic offense.

“They look like they could beat Alabama,” George said. “I don’t see anybody keeping up with the tempo that they have.”

Oh, but the diss didn’t stop there.

“Based on their schedule, no,” George said of Alabama’s worthiness for a berth in the BCS game. “They’ve played absolutely nobody prior to this weekend. That was the biggest question.”

George didn’t say it, but you’re welcome, Nick Saban.

Nick Saban didn’t say thank you, but he did define Alabama’s reality in the wake of a victory in what everyone long saw as by far the scariest game on the Tide’s schedule.

“We have a really good opponent this week, so it’s going to be really important that our players put that game behind them, as emotional as it may have been,” he said Monday. “As I said afterwards, games like that can either bring out the best in you or the worst in you.

“It’s all your choice in terms of how you view the future and what you need to do, relative to the challenges that the next team presents, which is pretty significant in Texas A&M’s case.”

And if Alabama has any trouble shedding the emotional lag from Baton Rouge, George just helped.

Look, we’ve spent the better part of a season saying, “Yeah, but … let’s wait to see what happens at LSU.”

Alabama won and remains No. 1 in the BCS standings and in all three major polls.

Whatever vulnerabilities LSU was good enough to expose, the Tide still has nearly every first-place vote in all three major polls --- 227 out of a possible 234.

Is Texas A&M a scary opponent? Absolutely, and it’s not just the thought of quarterback Johnny Manziel scrambling around against a defense that just got a clinic from Zach Mettenberger.

A&M, No. 15 in the BCS standings, will play Alabama after the Tide’s most emotional game of the year, and the Aggies are the third ranked opponent in a row. It reminds of the Arkansas-Florida-South Carolina stretch of the 2010 schedule.

That didn’t end so well for a defending national champion that held the No. 1 ranking from preseason to that Columbia trip, but that was midseason. This Alabama team has come too far and knows all too well it likely won’t make the BCS game as a one-loss team this year.

And just in case that’s not enough motivation to get the Tide over its near-death experience in Death Valley, Eddie George just showed there remain pundits ready and, perhaps, eager to doubt the Tide.

Joe Medley is The Star’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 256-235-3576 or jmedley@annistonstar.com. Follow on Twitter @jmedley_star.

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