The NFL hasn’t been too kind to Good Men Picks. So, like the coaches of the teams in this week’s edition, we’re giving up and moving to college football.
This week we’re looking at the big match-up down south, between #1 Alabama and #10 Arkansas. The Crimson Tide hasn’t lost since the 2008 season, but the Razorbacks will look to end that when they host the defending national champs on Saturday afternoon.
So, who’s the better team? Find out after the jump…
Alabama Crimson Tide
We try not to judge college kids. If I was judged based on how I behaved in college, well, I probably wouldn’t be writing for a place called the “Good Men Project.” But the good ones still stand out, especially Greg McElroy. The Alabama quarterback won a national championship in his only season as a starter; despite his obvious dedication to the game, he managed to graduate in three years with a 3.85 GPA in business marketing. Now he’s in his second year of grad school (he’s a red-shirt senior).
He’s yet to lose a game as a starting quarterback, but he had one of the worst games of his career in national title game last season. Alabama won, but we’d still like to see McElroy to get a shot at redemption. And to top it all off, he made a surprise visit to a lifelong Crimson Tide fan battling cancer this week. It’s like he knew I was going to write this.
Meet Nick Saban: college genius, NFL failure, liar. He won a national championship with LSU in 2003 and another one with Alabama earlier this year. Forbes called him “The Most Powerful Coach in Sports.” When it comes to college sports, there haven’t been many better than Saban.
But he failed in the NFL—big time. We wouldn’t normally have a problem with that, but it’s the way he went about it that’s so annoying. He left LSU to coach the Miami Dolphins in 2005. In his first year, the team went 9-7, only to stumble to a 6-10 record in 2006. Late that season, he was asked about the possibility of leaving the Dolphins for the vacant Alabama job. He responded, “I am not going to be the Alabama coach.”
A month later, he was being introduced as the new head coach in Tuscaloosa. Classy.
Ryan Mallet, the Arkansas quarterback, is nicknamed “Big Tex.” It really doesn’t get any better than that. He spent his freshman year at Michigan, but was basically forced out after a coaching change. He came to Arkansas and had to sit out a year. Despite hitting some bumps—including injuries and a charge for public intoxication (we forgive him)—but now he’s one of the top quarterbacks in the country. He’s poised to become a top pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
We love the team’s nickname, the “Razorbacks.” We also like to pull for the underdog. Alabama, Florida, and LSU have dominated the SEC forever, while Arkansas hovers between being average and good. It would be huge for the program and college football if Arkansas can pull off the upset.
You probably thought the Razorbacks had it in the bag after reading about Saban, right? Well, there might be one college football coach with a weaker spine than Saban, and that’s Bobby Petrino, the Arkansas coach.
Petrino left Louisville in 2007 to take the top job with the Atlanta Falcons. In doing so, he breached a ten-year contract he signed with the school just a year before, and was forced to pay the university $1 million. He then signed a five-year deal with the Falcons, worth $24 million.
In his first season with Atlanta, things didn’t go as planned. The team was 3-10 with three games left to go. Then Petrino gave up. He picked up his stuff and left. Instead of calling a meeting with his players, he left typed-out notes at each locker telling them that he was gone for good. Less than a day later, he popped up in Fayetteville, the new head man at Arkansas.
It pains us more than you’ll know to have to pick Saban, but that’s what we’re left with this week. We’ll be pulling (very grudgingly) for the Crimson Tide tomorrow. You should, too.