TMG NEWSMAKER OF THE WEEK: Nick Saban
Nick Saban is used to being the focus of college football's Spotlight Dance each week. It is part of the Alabama football coach's profile, right along with the national championships and the machine that Crimson Tide football has become in the past decade under Saban.
But this time it was different, if not predictable. Let us quickly review what happened last Saturday at Mississippi State as Alabama was in the process of coasting to another Southeastern Conference victory over the heavy underdog Bulldogs.
With slightly more than two minutes in the first half, Alabama had a 35-7 lead. The outcome was not in question. The only uncertainty on the Alabama sideline was whether the Tide's Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was finished working for the day.
Tua had again done his job well, completing 14 of 18 passes for 256 yards and a pair of TDs. More than enough to stay sharp, especially when Tagovailoa was coming off Alabama's first loss of the season a week ago to LSU and was still recovering from a high ankle sprain which had been treated with minor surgery.
Saban thought so and the plan was to let his starting QB watch the game from the sideline for the remainder of the afternoon.
But Tua had a request. He wanted to play one more series of live action to work on the Tide's two-minute drill, an essential part of any team competing for the national championship, which Alabama was still doing, despite it's loss to LSU.
Saban said fine, "one more series.''
Then it all came apart. On what turned out to be Tua's final game of the season and perhaps his career at Alabama, he was dragged down by pair of Mississippi State defenders, suffering a dislocated right hip, which was so serious that he was flown by helicopter back to Alabama, where surgery was performed on Monday.
From that moment, the twitter world went wild, second guessing Saban, wondering why was his starting QB still in the game.
Saban immediately acknowledged the controversy. ""We can second guess ourselves all we want,'' said Saban, who was visibly upset with the injury. ""We told Mac (back up Bama QB) Jones to warm up and we were going to go two-minutes before half. Tua wanted to stay in the game and sol I don't really make a lot of decisions worrying if a guy is going to get hurt.''
Saban is right. You can't coach that way. You shouldn't coach that way. Starters generally play the first half, no matter what the score.
If Tua had appeared in the second half, then the criticism would have been more justified.
What happened was simply football. NO ONE's fault.
The doctors said that the surgery was successful and Tua will be fine. But in what context and when. He was projected as a very high National Football League draft pick in what would his first year of draft eligibility.
He certainly would have been a Heisman favorite again if he returned for another season at Alabama.
Now all of that is uncertain.
One thing is not. Nick Saban did nothing wrong here, but he was the focus of most of the attention in the world of CFB.
And for that reason he is TMG's Newsmaker of the Week.