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Posted: Wednesday October 1, 2008 2:44PM; Updated: Wednesday October 1, 2008 3:27PM

Quick Slants: A nod to the Nicktator

Story Highlights
  • Nick Saban might be a snake and a scoundrel, but he can flat out coach.
  • New Rule: ACC teams should only be allowed to play other ACC teams
  • Ingenious E-mail of the Week: A way to reverse the SI, Oregon QB curses
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Nick Saban
Nick Saban may be worthy of the "Nicktator" tag, but it can't be denied that he can flat out coach.
Doug Benc/Getty Images

By Ty Hildenbrandt

I don't know about you, but I found it utterly impossible to resist the stray "devil went down to Georgia" reference when Nick Saban marched into Athens and stole the Dawgs' proverbial soul last Saturday.

It's no secret the infamous "Nicktator" has been a magnet for cheap punch lines ever since swimming away from his contract with the Miami Dolphins before last season. You could argue the fuel from Saban's two-timing tactics has allowed Quick Slants to thrive for the better part of a year. We've chewed through Saban zingers like Kobayashi at a buffet. From jokes about Halloween costumes to a full-fledged SABAN Scale, we've painted Saban as a spineless coward with no loyalty, morals, or human emotions.

Though that might all be true -- heck, it probably is -- one simple fact has trumped us: The guy can flat out coach.

Saturday night, between the hedges, Saban was at his absolute finest. Amid all the poppycock of Georgia's "Blackout," throwback jerseys and goofy funeral comments, Alabama blew the Bulldogs off the field and jumped out to a 31-0 halftime lead, almost without the Dawgs knowing what had happened. And despite ending with a 41-30 score, the game was really over before it ever started. Georgia's defense was so exploited, its offense was forced to play catch-up the entire second half. Matthew Stafford wasn't a factor until it was too late. Knowshon Moreno looked more like "Knowshow." The crowd looked like it was recovering from a hangover.

And that's what Saban does to an opponent. That's how he beats you. That's why he's the most powerful coach in sports, according to Forbes Magazine. We've joked about him being a snake, and perhaps he is. His teams are never flashy or spectacular. There's rarely a superstar or Heisman frontrunner in the spotlight. They just sneak up on you by being so fundamentally sound. They're powerful on the lines, stingy on defense and efficient on offense. They're leaner and more balanced than the NutraSystem diet.

So while Georgia was caught flat-footed by the Crimson Tide's unexpected surge, it should come as no surprise that one of Saban's teams is again causing a stir and forcing its way into the national championship picture.

Perhaps the truth is that Saban is actually some kind of God. In that case, it looks like I'm headed to hell.


Let's just ask the obvious: How in the name of Pete Carroll did Oregon State manage to dump top-ranked USC last Thursday? The Trojans have an All-America at nearly every defensive position, go five deep at running back and have a quarterback with more emotional giddyup than Traveler the horse. Yet they lost to a Beavers squad that lost to Stanford in week one and is an 11-point underdog against Utah? Whaaaaat?!?

How exactly does something like this happen? While it's not fair to speculate, we should at least consider the possibility that USC was confused by playing a rare Thursday night game. Perhaps the Trojans thought they had joined the Big East and choked accordingly. Just a thought.


In losing to Navy and becoming the Midshipmen's first ranked victim of the since 1985, Wake Forest solidified a belief most college football fans should come to accept by season's end: The best way to make the ACC look formidable is by banning its teams from non-conference play. Just let them fight one another tooth and nail so it looks like they're playing in a highly-competitive conference.

It's just not a good conference. South Florida blew away N.C. State by 41. Unranked Maryland beat Clemson. Duke (!) beat Virginia by 28. Now would be a great time to go ahead and revoke the ACC's "BCS Conference" card and give it to a more deserving entity. You know, like the WAC or the MAC or the SEC West.

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