NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 10: Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide talks to the media during a press conference following the win over Louisiana State University Tigers in the 2012 Allstate BCS National Championship Game on January 10, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Congratulations on your 2-0 start and No. 1 slot in the latest rankings! Since we have never corresponded before, let me also congratulate you on your 2011 BCS Championship. And your 2009 BCS Championship. Aaaand your 2003 BCS Championship.
I write you today not to discuss those tremendous accomplishments, but instead to inquire about your most glaring failure. Okay, perhaps your second most glaring failure, depending on how heavily you weigh allowing Matt Jones to conduct a game-winning touchdown drive against your defense using his arm.
I am referring of course to your 2007 home loss to the University of Louisiana-Monroe. I can only imagine that it was as brutally devastating a loss as the one to the same ULM program that befell the Arkansas Razorbacks this past Saturday in War Memorial Stadium. It was a stunning, sickening defeat, and the bad taste it left in my mouth as a fan I am sure pales in comparison to the bitter pill that a perfectionist such as yourself was forced to swallow.
If it's quite alright with you, Coach Saban, I would like to know what it was like to get humiliated like that in front of 92,000 shaker-waving lunatics and two quasi-attractive blondes in houndstooth? What feelings did you experience? What was written and said the following week? Did you have fans and media members calling for your head, because there has already been some talk of that here. Some even suggested that Arkansas fire John L. Smith the very next day. Some of these fans even remember the next day firing of Jack Crowe following his loss against the Citadel in 1992, the 15 years of wandering in the desert it trumpeted in, and STILL they are all for it. Surely even you, the Great Nick Saban, had to endure some of that talk after losing to ULM in 2007.
Did you have the wherewithal following the game to make it to midfield and shake the hand of the coach who had bested you? I'm not sure if you know this, but you can come across as quite the asshole, so I feel this is a pretty legitimate question, especially considering that our fearless leader either refused to participate in this ritual, or forgot on account of a deficiency of Ginkgo Biloba. I know I was stunned into something along the lines of a zombie-like state, speechless and immobile for a good three minutes following the final whistle, so a small part of my feeble mind can forgive this disregard for protocol. What say you, Coach?
Finally, after losing to ULM, did you, personally, ever question the potential of the program you inherited just months prior? Just two seasons after the unspeakable, you established yourself as the best coach in college football, and reestablished your team as the king of the mountain. Two seasons after that, you cemented your legacy among the pantheon of the all-time greats, and gave millions of fans a reason to buy a cheap jersey from Wal-Mart emblazoned with the number 14 instead of 13. Did you have doubts prior to those heights, however? Did the demoralizing, humiliating loss in 2007 give you pause as to whether you could do it or not? Because that's where I'm at, right now. A good portion of the state of Arkansas seems ready to jump off not only the bandwagon, but also the roof of their single-family home.
Are these people the crazy ones, or is it me, the fan who sees the loss for what it is on paper. One singular event, that has no bearing on conference record, and does not on its own disqualify the Razorbacks from anything save a Week 3 AP ranking and the right to host ESPN's College GameDay. Sure, it forecasts a long season full of disappointment and dictates that fans reevaluate expectations, but those disappointments that are now expected still have to come to pass. And even if or when they do, they don't spell the demise of the entire program. I mean, they didn't for Alabama, right? Two years later. National champions. A Hog can dream, right?
Unless they have been unceremoniously booted from the Southeastern Conference following the ULM embarrassment, Arkansas still holds a seat at the richest, most powerful table in college football. Its fan base still possesses pockets deeper than the vast majority of collegiate programs across the country, even if that fails to raise eyebrows in the southeast. It boasts facilities that still shine brighter than all but a few others, even if those others are largely fellow conference members. It is still a program that, while widely ridiculed by outsiders, residents new and old believe is capable of achieving great things.
You're the only one who has experienced this same exact occurrence, and you came out the other side unscathed. You lived it. You know. Is there hope for this program? Not a guarantee of success... just hope.
It was just one loss. Not a death knell. Just a loss.
Still taller than you,
P.S. Please be gentle Saturday.