Saban combative with media, fans after Bama's close win

Saban Irritated With Critics

College Contributor Network

In recent weeks, Alabama's football coach, Nick Saban, has been very lively and hotheaded when it comes to the media.

Saban has always been short with the media, not giving in to stupid questions and even neglecting certain questions if he sees no merit to them. He has a one-track mind for football so he keeps everything quick and to the point.

But despite his long-running brashness to the media, in recent weeks it's become more and more obvious that he's so focused on his team that any criticism, from fans or the media, really bothers him. Saban has built a dynasty, and he doesn't want anyone doubting that.

Over the past few weeks, Saban has talked about the lack of coverage of penalties by the media. He's talked about the inflated expectations for this team. He's dabbled onto fan attendance. He's even made comic book references about the Hulk and the Arkansas Razorbacks. Saban has talked about practically everything there is to talk about in a football game but he's been primarily upset about the media's lack of attention to detail and high expectations.

During my tenure at Alabama, I've seen a column run almost every season questioning student attendance at games and staying at the games for all four quarters. I've been privy to watching Saban speak at media days about the fans and the team's development. But this year is different. Saban is different. The team is definitely different.

Despite the team being different, the fans aren't. When I came in my freshman year, Alabama football was at its peak and the fans loved every minute of it. They were spoiled by the Crimson Tide's excellence. They expected to win every game, every week and then win the national championship.

Those fans never evolved over the past couple of years. Alabama lost, and it lost big time. But the fans still expect to win, and win big. The 14-13 win against Arkansas had them upset. A win is a win correct? That's not the case for some Alabama fans. They were upset that Arkansas, a team that hadn't won a conference game in its last 15 attempts, challenged them. They were upset that they lost against Ole Miss and then barely won against Arkansas.

The team is different this year, there's no denying that. Alabama lost some of its best players to the NFL Draft and injuries, so of course it's going to be different. Saban hit the nail on the head when he talked about how the expectations are too high and that fans are upset if the team doesn't eviscerate its opponent.

When the media asked Saban what he thought of the win against Arkansas and the fans' reaction, he got mad. His hands went flying and he didn't hold back how he felt in an emotional rant. He was most upset about this team being compared to those of years prior, instead of on its own terms.

From the time this season started, it was completely obvious that Alabama was a different team. The two losses last season changed the players. They were no longer the best, instead they needed to work hard and prove that they could be the best once more.

Saban's rant to the media about inflated expectations was necessary. Not many would side with him, but he has a point: this isn't 2011 or 2012, this is 2014 and there's a big difference between those teams and this year's team. It's not fair, or right, to bash a team because they didn't win by 30 or so points. Arkansas put up a good fight, a win is a win, and the game showed Saban what Alabama needs to work on if it wants to dominate other teams later in the season.

Caroline Gazzara is a junior at the University of Alabama majoring in Sports Journalism. Her passions are Alabama athletics and soccer. Follow her on Twitter: @CarolineGazzara
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