Short takes: Saban’s status, Smart’s defense and word about Lane Kiffin

Alabama coach Nick Saban pauses next to the Field Scovell Trophy after his team's Cotton Bowl semifinal playoff game against Michigan State, Thursday night in Arlington, Texas. Alabama won 38-0 to advance to the national championship game. (AP photo)

Alabama coach Nick Saban pauses next to the Field Scovell Trophy after his team’s Cotton Bowl semifinal playoff game against Michigan State, Thursday night in Arlington, Texas. Alabama won 38-0 to advance to the national championship game. (AP photo)

ARLINGTON, Texas — Yeah, they’re back. Alabama, looking like the dominant program of way back in, well, 2012, bludgeoned Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl Thursday night 38-0, to advance to the national championship game against unbeaten Clemson. Given the Tigers’ performance earlier, a 37-17 win over Oklahoma, it’s shaping up as a great title game.

For my column on Alabama’s performance and another impressive showing by Kirby Smart’s defense, click here (MyAJC.com) or here (Dawgnation.com) or here (SECCountry.com).

Below are my three “short takes” on the game:

1. SABAN STILL ON TOP:  Nick Saban would never make this about him but he had to know what the narrative would’ve been if Alabama had fallen to Michigan State. Instead, he reaffirmed he’s still the best coach in college football and the program is still on top. The Crimson Tide dominated a very good Michigan State team and almost certainly will be favored over Clemson, despite the fact the Tigers are unbeaten, the playoffs’ top seed and handled Oklahoma with ease. Nobody can know how long Saban, who’s 64 years old, plans to coach, but nobody should ever wonder again if he or Alabama are sliding.

2. KIRBY SMART’S DEFENSE: Yes, Georgia will have to wait until after the Jan. 11 championship game to get its new coach in Athens. But Smart, who told the AJC this week he plans to travel to Jacksonville for the Bulldogs’ appearance in the Gator Bowl, made the right decision to stay with Alabama through the playoffs. He said this is a special defense and they looked the part, shutting out Michigan State, holding the Spartans to 239 yards in offense, forcing two turnovers and constant harassing and beating up MSU quarterback Connor Cook (four sacks). Smart said he was surprised by the shutout: “We had some really good practices and I thought our kids really played well. (But) I can’t say I expected that to happen.”

The Tide’s defense was so good and so fast that at one point Cook could be seen mouthing the words, “They’re f’in everywhere.” Cook stated the obvious later: “Like I said before, you watch the film and the way their defensive line played, the way their linebackers filled the gaps, the way their secondary made plays in the pass game in the back end, everyone was aware of how good of a defense they were.”

3. A WORD ABOUT LANE KIFFIN: His three stints as head coach (Oakland Raiders, Tennessee, Southern Cal) did not end well. But the guy has done a really good job as an offensive coordinator and developer of quarterbacks in his two seasons at Alabama. I don’t know if Kiffin will ever get another head coach shot, or if he deserves one, but guys are just made to be coordinators. Alabama quarterback Jake Coker was named the game’s outstanding offensive player, completing 25 of 30 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns. Afterward, he credited Kiffin for his and the offense’s performance.  “He called plays that were open and he did a great job,” Coker said. “I’m happy he’s on our side.” Kiffin said this week he has learned a lot from working with Saban and believes he is better prepared to be a head coach. But when asked if he thought that would happen, he said, “I have no idea. But I can’t worry about that right now.”

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22 comments
TideDawg
TideDawg

Heard all the hype.....read all the hype. Monday night we find out who was right. Great defense against great offense. Being a Bama fan I hope they can score enough points, maybe 21 or 27. I think Clemson will put up 17-20 points. Should be a great game. ROLL TIDE!!

FlatTire
FlatTire

why don't the ajc go back to  the old posting format and allow more ads 


this new format the last several months is an epic fail; 


just look at the number of posts from the pasts years compared to this new format; there are hardly any posts

camelToeJoe
camelToeJoe

I had forgotten how bad Lambert is.  Glad Smart gets to witness it.  But I guess he already knows after that debacle in Athens. 

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

Being as there is no where else to post this. Thanks AJC I see that your non game day coverage of the 2015 UGa football team has continued into 2016. Not much return for my premium subscription ,count me as an unhappy customer.

39Concepts
39Concepts

Lane will score another $4 million coaching job soon at some school desperate for a big name---then he will leave or get fired in 2-3 years. It never changes.

OH:IO
OH:IO

Hey dogs!


It's dog (toilet) Bowl Saturday! 

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@OH:IO

Bucky, 


You should remind the AJC staff ,no coverage again today. Lame Dawgnation halftime report.

murfdawg
murfdawg

@OH:IO  Why is it that pathetic idiots like O:Blow:

Hole get on a Dawgs conversation to drool their crap to people who don't give a sh$t about their opinions. Oh that's right I answered my own question... pathetic idiot.

MaybeMaybeNot
MaybeMaybeNot

There is a fool born every second.  


Someone, somewhere will hire Lame Kiffin after next season.......and in 3 seasons will come to regret it.  

davidg32
davidg32

Being on the staff at Alabama is the perfect spot for Lane Kiffin.  He's an outstanding Offensive Coordinator, and at Alabama he has the one thing he truly needs in order to be successful:  A head coach with enough clout and gumption to say, "Lane, you keep your damn mouth SHUT!" and Lane will do it.

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

How long will Smart last at Georgia ? at least through three loses to Florida and the next lost to Alabama and Tennessee

The_Real_KJ
The_Real_KJ

@Infraredguy Might want to consult a 3rd grade English textbook on the correct forms of the word "loss" before posting again.

NorwegianBlue
NorwegianBlue

Happy New Year to Schultz and Bradley and all of the AJC readers, and thank God for sports.

William1952
William1952

Saban has earned his place as the college football coach with whom all others of today are measured. What a guy.

KeepOnSmilingWetWillie
KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

Roll Tide....I hope Kirby and The Dawgs win them all except when the Crimson Tide is on the other sideline

Mulk
Mulk

I think that even Schultz could coach those players. The talent disparity was obvious.