Over the last few weeks, a few people have approached me with the same silly sentiment: that Nick Saban vs Urban Meyer is now the best coaching rivalry in not just college football – but in all of sports.
Since the thought was tossed in my direction more than once, I decided to put some thought into it. Regarding that time spent, Nick Saban spent more time in the NFL.
After the thought passed, my answer to the question was simple: NO WAY.
Listen, it’s no secret that the Florida Gators and Alabama Crimson Tide have managed to distance themselves not just from the SEC’s elite – but to all of college football over the last few seasons.
But just because that fact is true, it doesn’t mean that a powerful and top-notch rivalry is boiling over quicker than Tim Tebow can mutter the words “Mile High Mania”.
It’s far the opposite actually – because after all, Saban is only entering his fourth season as the head coach at ‘Bama, while Meyer is potentially entering his sixth season with the Gators. That depends on who you are asking, regarding the status of Meyer’s health.
In fact, the only thing that indicates this is a legitimate rivalry is the simple, cookie cutter dictionary definition of the term “rivalry”.
Let’s not beg like a dog for it, desperately seeking college football’s new treat – that being a rivalry that mimics that of the Patriots and the Colts in the pros.
Heck, these two teams didn’t even face themselves during the regular season last year. Not like the Pats and Colts regularly do (e.g. the last two AFC championships).
Aside from that – where’s the fire, people?
Rivalries have fire.
I want passion and fire – not just something fueled by trying to fight for one significant victory for the football program.
I want something that’s sparked into a rivalry – say in the form of Lane Kiffin and Urban Meyer. Thanks to Kiffin’s mouth, that has become more of a rivalry in Kiffin’s one short season at Tennessee.
Aside from Florida and Tennessee, look at Ohio State and Michigan. Now that’s a rivalry that has been brewing pure hatred for not just a few years, but many, many decades.
Now that’s rivalry, friends.
Or look at USC and UCLA – which saw a fiery spark generated by Pete Carroll and Rick Neuheisel last season. That rivalry led to players on the field starting up old-fashioned southern California-flavored scrum.
But just because two teams like Alabama and Florida reach the top of the polls, doesn’t make it a major rivalry – let alone the biggest in sports.
Also, just because two elite players do battle for the Heisman Trophy (Tim Tebow and Mark Ingram) doesn’t make it an elite rivalry, either.
Rivalries don’t immediately flourish with the planting of one little seed. They need time to grow. There needs to be a history among coaches or some fire generated from the programs. Something… anything!
For those that say that SEC headliners Florida and Alabama have an elite rivalry in place, I say that’s poppycock.
Stick with Alabama and Auburn… that’s a rivalry.
Focus on Florida and Florida State – that’s a rivalry.
I’d love to hear why – because I’m open to welcome this as the next big rivalry in college sports.
For now, I simply see the Tide and Gators as a rivalry smokescreen. Ten bucks says no matter what Lane Kiffin mentions, he couldn’t develop it into a rivalry either.
So, welcome back to reality, sports fan – the Tigers and Seminoles are waiting to have their rivals back. Drop these dreams and hand ‘em over.
REV and AERO–
You both mentioned Spurrier and Bowden… which was a real fun one for sure. I miss that rivalry.
Tressel and Paterno is an interesting one… being the mutual respect there and the teams have had some solid battles the last few years…
This is one of a few posts that I put on another site and man you should have seen some of the comments I got there… wish some of them would have come over here… you guys would have had a field day on them.
I agree with you Kev. The Meyer and Saban rivalry is in it’s infancy. It’s hard to maintain a good coaching rivalry these days because of the steady turnover in the coaching business. Spurrier and Bowden was a great rivalry, the sound bites alone was worth the price of admission.
The greatest of all time had to have been Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler, a couple of old school coaches that left it all on the field.
The only coaching match up that I can think that is a long running rivalry to this day would be Tressel and Paterno. Classic.
Good stuff, man.
I say give it time.
These two are as competitive as it gets. It’ll only take a few more times for Saban to best Meyer to really tick him off. That next time should happen in Tuscaloosa this October.
So the rivalry’s brewing.
But I agree. As of yet, it’s a far cry from Spurrier-Fulmer or Spurrier and any of the Bowdens.
Either way, the way these cats recruit, they could be 1-2 for a while so maybe some potshots will come.