There are certain no-win situations in life that require the attention of an entire bomb squad.
Like when your wife asks: “Do you think my sister is pretty?”
Or, apparently, when the college football team your media organization covers gets really good.
Report the bad stuff and you are covered up in all the usual tired complaints about dishing dirt in order to sell newspapers (when, in fact, championships sell much better than collapses). You’re just another one of those nattering nabobs of negativism, to quote the late, great Spiro Agnew.
Ah, but write the good stuff and you are like an agent of ruin. It seems that flattery is to a football team what sugar is to tooth decay.
The poison of positivism is a most deadly brand. That is not an overstatement. It is pretty much a direct quote from the headwaters of college football coaching.
This was Nick Saban after Alabama Inc. only beat Texas A&M by eight points Saturday: “I'm trying to get our players to listen to me instead of you guys (the media). All that stuff you write about how good we are? All that stuff they hear on ESPN? It's like poison. Like rat poison.”
I’ve often thought some of the things I’ve read and written capable of causing flu-like symptoms. But of wiping out whole nests of rodents? That’s a new one.
A certain amount of good press is bound to attach itself to Alabama regardless of Saban’s best efforts. There are national championships. And there is his current team rip-sawing its way through the schedule (the Crimson Tide had won its first two SEC games by a combined 125-3 before A&M nuzzled up uncomfortably close).
And the problem of positive coverage is now facing one of Saban’s acolytes, Georgia’s Kirby Smart. Poor guy. In between the occasional arrest, the Bulldogs have had a quite pleasant couple of months.
They are winning big and settling old debts along the way (last season’s losses to Tennessee and Vanderbilt already avenged). Their division stinks. They are bound to creep up the rankings – thank you Oklahoma. Their line play is beginning to look big-game-worthy. Recruits are taking a number just to get into the place.
Those are just the kind of observations that are so horribly caustic. We would recommend that no one on campus read them without gloves and safety goggles.
Smart has quite a job ahead of him managing the feel-good atmosphere that is mushrooming around this Georgia team. Fortunately, he’s had the best of mentors. No doubt Smart will become increasingly annoyed with any suggestion that his team is a joy to watch and that he has done a bang-up job.
What a world these coaches live in. They devote themselves to building something monumental. And then, when it appears they just might be doing it, they must deny it all. Success is to be tamped down like a spent campfire. Satisfaction is defeat. Compliments are only daggers in disguise.
At least when it’s time to write that Georgia can’t beat Alabama in the SEC Championship game, one coach will be happy.