I’m all for so-called bulletin board material. When serial loudmouth Joey Bautista dumped on the Tribe’s pitching and then went 3-for-18 in the ALCS, Cleveland’s relentless trolling was fantastic – and well earned. His comments clearly pissed the Indians off, they used it as fuel and they weren’t shy about saying so.
And even though it’s often overblown and overplayed, I can usually understand when teams use the “nobody believes in us” shtick. It’s galvanizing in a locker room, even if somewhat manufactured.
But these comments coming out of the Alabama camp today cross a line and are just too preposterous to let slide.
- “We do feel like we’re underdogs right now.” – linebacker Ryan Anderson
- “The media is selling us as possible underdogs, possible upset.” – linebacker Tim Williams, contradicting himself in a span of four words and apparently unfamiliar with the definitions of “underdog” and/or “upset”
- “It’s kind of a slap in the face when you do something well all year and then your parents give the gift to your little brother and he just got an F on his test.” – tight end O.J. Howard, with possibly the worst and most confusing analogy of all time
That’s right, the Alabama Crimson Tide – 6.5-point title game favorites, riding a 26-game winning streak and owners of the media- and self-proclaimed “best defense ever” – want you to know they’re sick and tired of being slighted. Even though they can’t really tell you who’s doing the slighting.
If you read into some of their rationale, you can kind of understand their angle if you squint a little (okay, a lot). Bama’s offense never fully clicked against Washington in the semifinal. Then, OC Lane Kiffin’s dismissal and the subsequent promotion of Steve Sarkisian gave some legs to the “questions on offense” storyline. These guys are probably and understandably fed up with answering those same questions for the past week.
But to spin that into, “We do feel like we’re underdogs right now” is absurd. You still haven’t lost in 15 months. You still genuinely have one of the best college football defenses ever assembled. Your new offensive coordinator has worked with your offense all season, which still put up 24 against an elite Washington D – and still has Bo Scarbrough.
Say you’re annoyed with all the questions and speculation, that’s fine. And if you really want to milk the “nobody believes in us” mantra within the locker room, that’s fine too. But for Alabama to tout it publically like this, in the position they’re in, is embarrassing, contrived and infuriating.
So on Monday night, I hope it’s Clemson by 60. I hope Deshaun Watson ruins them. I hope Nick Saban pulls a Coach Taylor at East Dillon and asks the refs to call it at halftime.
I mean, the Tigers should manhandle those lousy, underdog Crimson Tide anyway, no?