By Mark Paulette
It’s a new year but a bit of a dull week in the sports world. The Patriots are resting up and taking advantage of their well-deserved bye week. The Celtics played last night, but as I’ve said many a time, ‘I’m out’ on them. I don’t care how many 50-point games Isaiah Thomas bags; they’re still not winning more than one playoff series. The Red Sox have simmered down of late, entering into Zero Dark Thirty mode leading into spring arrivals next month. What does that leave us to talk about? The Bruins? Do they still exist? Maybe it’s time to include them in one of these articles. Ughh, that’s a sickening thought.
To counteract having to talk about the B’s, here’s a few random thoughts currently swirling around my thinking muscle.
Thought #1 – Supreme Ruler: Nick Saban – Close your eyes and picture Nick Saban. What comes to mind? The very definition of a curmudgeon? Saban is a grouch-faced, football genius (sound familiar?) who if looks could kill would lay waste to everything green and jolly in his path. This is a man who has forgotten his own birthday on numerous occasions for goodness sakes! The 4-time National Champion head coach made a move only two men in America would dare make Monday afternoon, as he relieved offensive coordinator, Lane Kiffin, from his post just over a week outside of The Tide rolling into another National Championship showdown with Clemson.
My first thought when I heard this: ‘What a (take your pick of any 3-or-4 letter word that I can’t type here).’ That take was based on a pre-determined bias towards Saban in which I surmised the man as a hyper focused football machine, incapable of sharing, feeling or understanding basic human emotions. There were countless examples from this year of Kiffin looking like a poor victim of Saban’s tyrannical fury on the sidelines when a play wasn’t run to perfection or didn’t perfectly fit the game’s situation. Hell, Bama’s bus even left Kiffin behind on two separate occasions during the year, as if they failed to remember his existence.
But then I began to see the other side of the swift axing. The one where, if you do a little digging, you find Kiffin has not only failed, but turned off the masses at every stop along his career. His perceived attitude and arrogance towards others has led to previous firings, and having already accepted the head coaching position at Florida Atlantic. Perhaps Kiffin wasn’t as uber-focused on the chase for a 5th Alabama crown as Saban demands. Their offensive showing in the semi-final versus Washington wasn’t pretty by any means and by the second quarter Saban’s fingerprints could be seen in the play calling, as Kiffin seemed oblivious to the situation.
On a scale of 1-to-Bill Belichick, I’m not sure where Saban’s move would rank. After all, Belichick has cut someone on Christmas before. Either way you slice it, both men strive for only one thing – to win and to ‘do what’s best for the team.’ That’s why in the end, partly due to my affection for the Hoodie, I can’t blame Saban for this move.
Thought #2 – Wildcard Weekend – Brace yourselves for a hideous 28 hours of football starting Saturday. This is supposed to be one of the most wonderful times of the year: MLB Postseason, NFL playoffs and March Madness. That’s the list for me. But my god, does this weekend have the potential to be a stinker!? It kicks off with 72-million-dollar-man, Brock Osweiler (who is trying his best to emulate Peyton Manning’s 2015 form) taking on, well, possibly myself as quarterback of the once top-perched Oakland Raiders. Follow that with a fish fry in the Steel City and a dull showing from 4-fingered Matt Stafford in the Emerald City and the weekend’s lone hope is that the New York Football Giants can channel former glory and turn in an entertaining performance at Lambeau. (The Giants won the 2007 NFC Championship in a frozen Green Bay, Wisconsin, and again knocked out the Pack with a Divisional Round triumph in 2011. I will cut out my tongue before speaking further of those two playoff runs for the G-Men.)
I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek inside a brilliant mind. Next week will be back to the norm, and you can bet you’ll be inundated with some good old fashioned unabashed Patriots loving leading into their Divisional Round match up.
Mark Paulette is the PVC of The Drive weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.