Sunday, October 2, 2016

Nick Saban: The Final Chapter

Who is Blake Barnett



For years the Crimson Tide's faithful had yearned for a blue chip passing quarterback. The sort of player who would remind them of those heady days when Howard Leslie Schnellenberger stepped off the plane with Joe Namath.

In the middle of Bama's opener against USC I told my brother if Alabama didn't play Barnett he would transfer. But Stacy isn't the sort of fan who watches recruiting and other moves that happen away from the field. When Barnett throws the ball it's poetry in motion, to be cliche.

As far as Barnett transferring, Alabama radio analyst and Senior Bowl President Phil Savage said Thursday morning it doesn't come as a shock. In an interview with AI.com Savage went on to say, "In some ways, he throws the ball similarly to AJ McCarron," he said. "He has a little bit of a stretch motion, and he throws the ball more than well enough to have been a winning quarterback at Alabama."

Well, Phil it seems to have been a shock to Nick Saban. According to Saban, Barnett came to his office Wednesday morning and inquired about his own future with Alabama. That is what the coach said at a news conference later unaware that the best pro-style quarterback the Tide had seen in an age made the decision to leave Tuscaloosa.

After Saban was officially informed of Barnett's departure the coach's remarks were crude and characteristically dishonest. Really coach? The grass is greener on the septic tank? Well, being from West Virginia ...

You don't have to be paid by ESPN to see that the Tide via Lane Kiffin has gone from a pro-style offense to the one star, dual threat, ball hog offense. This was undoubtedly the point of Barnett's inquiry with Saban. Barnett would not fit into this new scheme.

The one star, dual threat, ball hog offense is fine at the high school level and in the NFL where recruiting is not a factor. At the college level, according to some, recruiting is 70% of the game.  After four games Tide running back Damien Harris is 11th in the conference with 356 yards on 42 carries.  Jalen Hurts is 15th with 276 yards on 54 carries. Do you see the problem?

If you were a top prospect at running back would you want to come to Alabama and share time with the one star, dual threat, ball hog quarterback? Probably not, huh? The problem with this scheme is that it destroys every major program it touches. Tim Tebow leading rusher, where is Florida now? Cam Newton, where is Auburn now? Jameis Winston, where is Florida State now? I could go on but you should have gotten my point, Charlie Strong did.

In a pro-style offense the quarterback is a ringmaster. His job is to get the ball into the hands of the play makers. When the quarterback becomes the main play maker the talent soon dries up.

If the Bama running game is suffering could it be that the Tide is throwing the ball too much? Well Calvin Ridley is fourth in the conference in receiving. But Stewart is a distant twenty-first and star of last year's national title game OJ Howard is thirtieth. As a team Alabama is fourth in both rushing and passing and fifth in total offense among SEC teams. And yet, Barnett saw very limited action even when the Tide fell behind Ole Miss.

Receivers also avoid coming to schools with the one star offense. It doesn't bolster your NFL stock when you seldom catch a ball and the quarterback gets all of the attention. To make matters worse for Bama, Hurts would do good to hit any side of the proverbial barn at more than twenty yards.

After sitting patiently on the bench for a year as a red-shirt, Barnett saw the writing on the wall. Lane Kiffin is using the Alabama offense to audition for a new job in the NFL. At the end of the year he, too, will be gone and coach Saban will be left to peddle the idea that he's still committed to the pro-style offense. But who's going to believe him. Everybody knows, Saban lies.