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franklin county times

Bama swagger returns

By By Paul Finebaum
Alabama may not be the best team in the nation. Not even close. In the end, the Tide may not even turn out to be the best team in its own state. That
is yet to be determined with the sudden resurgence of the Auburn program following its historic victory over New Mexico State.
However, the Tide is the most exciting team in college football. Hands down. Regardless of the record in 2007, the games the last two weekends have provided Nick Saban a magical recruiting wand – not that he really needed anything else going his way.
As poorly as the Tide played in parts on Saturday night, and even though they lost in overtime, I came away more impressed than the previous week, when they should have blown Arkansas out (so much for the Hogs being worth a flip) and nearly threw the game away.
Georgia is a better team than Alabama. The Bulldogs have better players.
But the guts and determination of Alabama, as well as the mind shift instituted by Saban and company, gives the Tide a chance every week. If I were a recruit watching Alabama's games the last two Saturday nights,
I'd have to be saying: "I want to go there! That's become a fun school. Bama is smoking hot."
And it is. Pretty amazing when you compare this to last year when Alabama's offense would put people to sleep and the program was about as hot as
Britney Spears' recent dance moves.
Last week, fans were bending their backs, straining to turn this season into something it never was intended to be. People said this team could be special. Well, this team is special, regardless of the record.
Saban has brought a swagger back to this program that may not always result in victory, but it has made the Tide relevant again on the national scene.
What is happening at Alabama is electrifying and the residual effect will come in recruiting. And watching how well Alabama has played the last few weeks, displaying a refuse-to-lose attitude, one can only imagine the state of delirium down the road when Saban has five-star blue chippers on both sides of the ball. And with depth to boot.
Fans may get hung up on the won-loss record this year. But I seriously doubt it is permeating the mind of Saban. He inherited a team that had talent in spots and devoid of it in other areas (defense), but the team was not motivated to win and didn't have a clue how to get to the finish line.
He has made the most out of what he inherited but there is only so much a head coach can do. Through four games, he has made most of the right moves and has squeezed every drop of effort out of this football team.
While it is next to impossible to compare one year to the next, my best guess is with Mike Shula in charge, Alabama would be 2-2 right now heading to a guaranteed loss in Jacksonville, Fla. However, the big problem would have been on the recruiting trail. And that is where Saban is making the biggest difference. Shula would be missing more than he is getting while Saban is sweeping a broom through Alabama and surrounding areas.
So the season moves on to week five and Alabama – record-wise – is about on track. Saturday against Florida State is one of those swing games that will likely determine whether Alabama has a better year than expected.
Still, from this perch, regardless of how the final record turns out, Nick Saban is doing the job. He and his assistants are easily earning their salary.
Saban is only four games into his career at Alabama. If you thought the last two Saturday nights were fun, can you imagine how much fun this will when he is 44 games into his tenure?
Paul Finebaum is a guest columnist for The Franklin County Times. He can be reached via e-mail at finebaumnet@yahoo.com.