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Nick Saban rants on Fan Expectations

Nick Saban rants on Fan Expectations

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Crimson Corner: Nick Saban's Right, You Know?

For the second week in a row, Nick Saban fired a shot at the Alabama fan base, this time calling some members 'self-absorbed'.

He's right, you know.

After last week's rant that saw Alabama football coach Nick Saban elude to fans being 'entitled', you would think that the veteran coach would want to lay low this week. After a close win that ultimately proved him right, one would think that Saban would want to pull back on the reins just a little bit, satisfied that his point had been made.

But on Wednesday night, Saban was at it once again. And this time, he was even more fired up.

A caller on The Nick Saban Radio Show asked a question on how his team deals with 'rat poison'. The initial question was innocent enough, but the caller made one crucial error in using the following sentence: "We go to the games knowing we're going to win, we just don't know by how much."

Saban responded in kind with a three-minute-long rant. Now, we won't review the entire rant here, but you can either watch it in the video located at the top of this page or by reading our coverage.

Along with calling out some fans for being self-absorbed, one quote stood out above the rest:

“When I came here, everybody was happy to win a game, aight?” Saban said. “Now we’re not happy to win a game anymore. We’re not happy to win a game at all, aight? We think we should win games by whatever, and I don’t think that’s fair to the players either, aight? Because our players work their butt off to be the best that they can be, and to get criticized for what they work hard for to do so that you can be entertained, aight? So that you can enjoy and have pride and passion for what they accomplish and what they do."

Make that two weeks in a row now that Saban has called out complacent fans and those that expect success.

It's no small secret that Alabama fans have grown accustomed to their team's success over the years. The same could be said of Paul "Bear" Bryant's tenure, although even those expectations might not be as high as they are now under Saban. That's an argument for another day, though.

Growing up in Alabama, I experienced the Crimson Tide at its low points during the mid-1990s and through the mid-2000s. While older fans certainly remember those days, fans that are even younger than I did not have to experience those times. During those days, it was not uncommon to head into a game knowing that Alabama was going to lose. Heck, as a sports journalist, it's my job to never rule out any possibilities. Even if I favor the Crimson Tide in most of its games, there are still some that I shrug and think to myself "This could be a game that Alabama loses."

Over the past decade, I've been proven wrong more often than I've been proven right when picking the Crimson Tide to lose, but that still contributes to what fans that are both old and young are now experiencing: complacency. It's something that has obviously irked Saban this season.

It's easy to be an armchair quarterback. Shoot, I essentially do that for a living. But in doing so, Alabama fans violate one of the key fundamentals of sport. How can we expect for the players to give it their all on the gridiron if our expectations for them are so lofty and unreasonable that they can't be attained?

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You can point your fingers at assistant coaches all you want. I'm guilty of doing that myself from time to time. But credit should be given where credit is due.

“And they’re not perfect, aight?" Saban said. "They’re just college students. They go to school every day. They’ve gotta study, aight? They have to run extra after practice when they miss study hall. I mean, come on. Give me a break. This is not professional football. These guys aren’t getting paid to play here. They’re representing you all. You should be proud and happy to support them and appreciate what they do and have some gratitude."

Last week, Crimson Tide linebacker Henry To'oTo'o had a solid outing. In a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks where the defense as a whole struggled, To'oTo'o stood above all by leading the team with 13 tackles, including three for a loss with two sacks. His efforts even earned himself the honor of SEC Defensive Player of the Week.

But when it came to social media, what were the replies? For the most part, Alabama fans on Twitter expressed their shock and referenced his shortcomings over the course of the season rather than praising him for his impressive solo performance against Arkansas.

Why is that so? It all stems back to complacency and the expectations of success.

Now look, I get it. Alabama fans are living in an age of unprecedented success. If anyone had told Crimson Tide fans back in 2006 that their football team was going to win six national titles in the next 15 years, they would have been laughed out of the room.

This season, Alabama isn't playing the best football that we've seen from them over these past 15 years. That is an objective truth. Struggles on both offense and defense have hampered the team throughout the season, and there's clearly some improvements that need to be made in multiple areas.

All that being said, is Alabama not still ranked in the top four teams in the College Football Playoff Rankings? Is the Crimson Tide not among the best teams in the nation on both the offensive and defensive sides of the football? Does Alabama not have a 10-1 record, something that fans desperately yearned for just 15 short years ago?

Is that not still impressive?

 If you say no, you know what that sounds like to me? That sounds like entitlement.

"Nobody wants to win worse than they do," Saban said. "Not me, not you. I don’t care what kind of fan you are. Nobody wants to win more than the players that play, nobody. And nobody feels worse than they do when they lose, nobody."

High expectations didn't start with Alabama football, and they certainly won't end there, either. However, when fans' standards that are so high that the players themselves are met only with criticism when they underperform and little to no praise when they succeed, should we really be surprised when there is a perceived lack of motivation?

Saban's right, you know.

He's right, you know.

After last week's rant that saw Alabama football coach Nick Saban elude to fans being 'entitled', you would think that the veteran coach would want to lay low this week. After a close win that ultimately proved him right, one would think that Saban would want to pull back on the reins just a little bit, satisfied that his point had been made.

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