I gotta ask myself the question above after reading the various columns in the media since the Iron Bowl (Alabama-Auburn game) last Saturday.
A little background…this is one of those rivalry games where the respective records of the teams means nothing. We’ve seen 11-0 teams blow out 4-7 teams in this series…and seen 11-0 teams lose to the same 4-7 team. Neil has been watching this game since he was little and it’s almost always a knock down drag out brawl with very few games won or lost by many points.
Anyhoo; the game was this past weekend and as per usual it was a great game…although the wrong team won. Both sides traded the lead during the game and with about 8 minutes left Bama got a 99 yard TD pass to take the lead, then forced Auburn to punt. Bama got it down to the 13 with about 3 minutes left and (since they were trying to win the game and they only needed a yard) went for it on 4th and 1. Auburn stopped them on a tremendous play and went on a great drive (even though they aren’t my team) to score and tie the game with 32 seconds left. Looked like over time for sure but Bama’ QB drove them down the field and the running back got out of bounds with 1 second left on the clock at the Auburn 39 yard line. At this point it was over time, a Hail Mary pass, or a long field goal (57 yards but just within the range of their long range place kicker.
Since the likelihood of scoring on a Hail Mary is pretty close to zero, Bama went for the long field goal to try and win outright rather than toss the dice on overtime. Bama’s regular place kicker was having a horrible 0 for 3 game (2 misses and a block) so they sent in their backup kicker. The kick was dead online but about 4 or 5 yards short. Auburn had put a cornerback back in the end zone to run back a miss and after a couple of great blocks he ran the kick back 108 or 109 yards to win the game with no time on the clock.
Ok, great play by Auburn, great game on both sides and Auburn deserved to win. Granted; Bama didn’t play very well…dropped passes, didn’t have their typical power running game, couple of dumb penalties that cost them points…but all those things usually even out in the end so despite them being the wrong team Neil congratulated them as deserving the win and accepted that Bama wouldn’t get their 3rd consecutive national championship. Winning 3 in a row is hard…guess that’s why nobody has done it in 75 years or so since they started voting on those things on some sort of national level.
Next day we start to see the press ramble on about it, pontificate over nothing, and generally open a can-o-hate on old Nick.
He cost them the game!!
Dumbest strategic move ever!!
He needs to leave Bama and go coach Texas!!
And on and on and on.
Seems to Neil and Connie that Nick’s time as the Bama coach has been pretty successful. Six years, 3 championships, 5 bowl victories, 4 10+ win seasons, and worst record was 8-3. Geez, what a loser.
Also seems like he wanted to win the game in regulation…didn’t have much confidence in his normal place kicker after 0 for 3…and figured that the likelihood of a long field goal being successful was greater than the likelihood of scoring on a Hail Mary pass. All of that makes perfect sense to us as well…but not the media. No…they’ve gotta psychoanalyze everything. The only thing we would even think to second guess was not taking the 27 yard field goal instead of going for it on 4th and 1. The field goal would have given them a 10 point or two score lead with 3 minutes left in the game…but then one would think that a strong power running team would be able to pick up a 4th and 1 easily and even though the field goal would have been pretty much a chip shot…the kicker was still 0 for 3, Nick trusted his O-line, and was trying to win the game instead of letting the other team hang around. Nothing bad about the decision at all…and he does get paid the big bucks to make the hard decisions. As fate had it…luck wasn’t on his side on Saturday…championship teams always need a little luck; particularly when going for the 3-peat.
Bama slipped down to 4th in the BCS so they’ll still get a pretty nice bowl outing with Auburn 3rd. All we need now is for FSU and Ohio State to both lose their conference title games this weekend and we can have Iron Bowl II in the championship game. I’m not gonna predict that…but ya never know. OSU definitely isn’t the actual second best team in the country…they gave up 600 yards of offense to a mediocre at best Michigan team; but then that’s their rivalry game as well and a lot of the same rivalry game things are true about it as well. It isn’t as intense a rivalry though…come talk to me about that after somebody from Michigan poisons trees in Columbus OH then brags about it on a talk radio call in show.
Personally, I think Nick is one of the great coaches ever given his overall record at multiple schools, number of championships his teams have won, and his belief in teaching the players to do their job and believe in the process. He’s not quite as revered in Alabama as Bear Bryant is…but it’s close.
Anyway, rant mode off.
We had a nice weekend. Didn’t do much except watch football but did have a really great dinner on Sunday…Mashed Taters with Caramelized Onions and Jalapeño Cheese and Steak au Poivre. Mashed taters are pretty standard and Steak au Poivre is just a fancy French word for Steak crusted with peppers and then seared in a really, really hot skillet. Once it’s done you put Cognac (well, we actually used bourbon since we didn’t have ay Cognac) in to deglaze the pan then add some Half and Half…then let it reduce to about half so it gets thick and tasty. Here’s a couple pics of dinner.
Today is Connie’s birthday…she’s (cough, ahem, errr) 59 and Neil is taking her out to Joe’s Crab Shack for diner…I’ll report back on how that was later. We went out and put up some Christmas lights on the house today…I’ll take a shot of that later and you can check out our holiday decorations. While we were out we saw this large flock of birds that turned out to be American White Pelicans circling over the campground…none of us had ever seen that many pelicans together and not near the water. Strange indeed.
While Neil was editing the pictures for this post…Connie was sitting at the table doing some work for the College and called Neil over to see what this bird was. It had flown into a tree 3 sites down and she thought it had a mouse or rabbit in its talons. Neil took a quick picture and figured out it was an Osprey with a fish. Here is a shot of it in the tree taken literally from our patio.
Right after this photo two juvenile but almost mature Bald Eagles flew over…only about 75 feet above the house. This is a shot of one of them taken looking almost straight up…Neil had the long bird lens on the camera and had to actually use less than full magnification to get this shot. Sorry about the blown out sky…it’s cloudy here so there isn’t anything but white.
The two eagles circled overhead for awhile…clearly the Osprey which is sort of sitting underneath the branches hiding from them so they didn’t steal his lunch. Neil walked down the park road a bit and got a few better closeups of the Osprey and his meal. After 10 minutes or so without seeing the eagles any longer the Osprey left for wherever he is nesting. These were taken from 1 site away and the last one from almost directly underneath it about 30 feet away. Can’t tell if this is the male or female…they look the same…but it appears mature and normally takes it’s meal back to the nest to share with it’s mate. Since few ospreys nest other than in man made nesting platforms since they are horrible next builders…and since there aren’t any of them near the park it looks pretty clear that he was hunting and stopped by either to rest from carrying that huge fish that probably weighs 2/3 of what its body weight or to hide from the eagles who would easily steal his catch away as they are larger and more powerful.
That’s about it…way more excitement than we usually get right in the campground. It’s unusual to spot an osprey with a meal onboard…and even more unusual to be able to get a photo of one from so close.