NCAA FB

We should have been listening to 'Bama

Hear from the winners of BCS title game.
Hear from the winners of BCS title game.
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Thayer Evans

Senior College Football writer Thayer Evans previously wrote for The New York Times and Houston Chronicle, as well as contributed to The Economist, USA Today, The Washington Post and more. Follow him on Twitter.

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NEW ORLEANS

Alabama tried to tell us.

Of course, we didn’t listen after the Crimson Tide’s three-point overtime loss at home to LSU in November.

“Alabama is still the better team,” wide receiver Darius Hanks said at the time. “Definitely.”

Said Crimson Tide wide receiver Marquis Maze: “We are still the best team in the country. If we played them again, we wouldn’t lose.”

Folks laughed at Alabama’s spin after its mistake-filled loss in which it missed three field goals and had another one blocked. They were appalled the Crimson Tide wanted an all-SEC rematch against LSU in the BCS championship game.

But after No. 2 Alabama’s 21-0 flogging of top-ranked LSU on Monday night before 78,237 fans at The Superdome, its players didn’t even say "I told you so." They didn’t have to after avenging their lone, flukish loss in such a dominant fashion.

Even robot Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban was bashful when he raised the crystal football above his head.

“The score,” Maze said with a smile, “says it all.”

Actually golfer Jerry Pate, an Alabama graduate and the 1976 US Open winner, said it best when he walked out of the Crimson Tide locker room after the game.

“That,” Pate said, “was an ass-kicking.”

One of historical proportions as LSU became the first team to be shut out not just in the BCS championship game, but also in a BCS bowl game, ending a streak of 61 contests without a shutout.

Forget all the talk about this LSU team possibly being the greatest in the history of college football. Its offense got abused by a stingy, hard-hitting Alabama defense that will go down as one of college football’s greatest.

The Crimson Tide made the Tigers, who totaled 92 yards of total offense — the second-worst performance in a BCS game — look worse than the asphalt on Bourbon Street after Mardi Gras.

It was so ugly that radio host and former New Orleans Saints quarterback Bobby Hebert, the father of LSU offensive lineman T-Bob Hebert, asked Tigers coach Les Miles after the game whether he thought about replacing starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson with backup Jarrett Lee, “considering that you weren’t taking any chances on the field.”

The elder Hebert — who before the press conference told a reporter that “I’m 51 years old and I guarantee you that I could get more than five first downs” — then melted down and went on a tirade.

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“I know Alabama’s defense is dominant,” the elder Hebert said. “But come on, that’s ridiculous, five first downs. ... I’ll tell you from the fan’s standpoint, that how can you not maybe push the ball down the field and bring in Jarrett Lee? So what if you get a pick six? . . . I know the pass rush of Alabama, but there’s no reason why in five first downs — you have a great defense, LSU is a great defense, but that’s ridiculous.”

Later in the press conference, Miles acknowledged he was stunned by his team’s loss.

“I did not see it coming,” he said. “And that’s my fault. I wish I could have done something to help them.”

But Alabama’s players foresaw it two months ago after their heartbreaking 9-6 overtime loss to LSU. They said they were still the better team because they knew they had given away the game.

The loss was haunting and the national LSU lovefest only made it worse.

“It was tougher losing a game,” said Saban, who became the first coach to win three BCS titles.

UPRIGHTS CITIZEN

'Bama kickers were a laughingstock in November. The Tide are BCS champs thanks to Jeremy Shelley's game Monday night, Steve Eubanks says.

That gloom, though, actually gave Alabama hope for the rematch. The team knew it couldn’t play any worse than it had the first time.

The Crimson Tide’s kickers couldn’t be as bad as they were that game — and junior Jeremy Shelley proved just that with a redemptive 5-of-7 field-goal effort.

“We knew we were the best team,” said Maze, who suffered a hamstring injury on a 49-yard punt return in the first quarter. “Really did.”

Maze said it matter-of-factly. He’s right.

College football is finally listening now. It should have been all along.

Tagged: Alabama, LSU, Jarrett Lee, T-Bob Hebert, Marquis Maze

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