Sunday Morning Meditation – Under CenterView of Bryant-Denny Stadium during a night game, taken from the south end of the west side upper deck. Source: Wikimedia Commons
True leadership doesn’t always translate into victory.
I think people forget that sometimes, especially football fans, Alabama fans in particular.
The wins come easily for us now under Nick Saban’s tenure. We are so unaccustomed to losing that anything less than perfection feels like a personal insult. Even winning in a less than convincing fashion draws scorn. (I’m guilty of it, too. I was a pretty lousy fan during the closer-than-expected Arkansas game this year.)
But this year’s Alabama team was an important reminder that great seasons aren’t always defined by how many games you win, though winning is important obviously. It’s also about how you handle defeat.
Great leaders under center know how to handle a loss. The not-so-great ones make excuses.
You could find no better example of this than the comments by Alabama Quarterback Blake Sims and Florida State Quarterback Jameis Winston following their respective losses in the Jan. 1 semifinals. Sims, a senior closing out his first and last season as the starter for The Tide, has taken a lot of crap from the fans. Despite record-setting stats on a resume that includes 12 wins and a SEC championship, he gets little respect.
Winston, a sophomore, went undefeated last season and during the regular season in 2014. Like Bama fans, he’s not accustomed to losing. Despite numerous off-field issues, including a rape allegation that magically disappeared into a Florida swamp somewhere, the FSU fan base has circled the wagons around Winston. Another word for it is coddling.
FSU’s season collapsed in spectacular fashion on Jan. 1 as Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, karma in shoulder pads, lit up the Seminoles, hanging 59 points on them before the game came to a merciful end. Or, to hear Jameis Winston tell it, Oregon got lucky …
“This game could’ve went either way,” Winston said during the postgame press conference. “If everybody this room just wants to be real with themselves, this game could’ve went either way. We turned the ball over a lot, you know? We beat ourselves.”
There was at least one person in the room that wasn’t being real with themselves, and they weren’t in the press pool.
Compare that with how Blake Sims handled Alabama’s defeat to Ohio State University, a team that exploited Bama’s – and Sims’ – weaknesses. It wasn’t the righteous beat down that Oregon delivered to FSU. Bama was within one touchdown of tying up the game when Sims faltered on his last possession as an Alabama quarterback, throwing an interception.
Sims made no excuses.
“It was on me,” Sims said. “I take full responsibility for everything that happened tonight. It was no other person’s fault but mine.”
This might come as a shock to some folks, but there are some things in life that are more important than winning football games. One of them is rewarding seniors like Sims who worked hard, did what the coaches asked of him and never created needless distractions for his team.
Jameis Winston is the superior athlete, but I’d rather have a guy like Blake Sims under center any Saturday.
Also, Roll Tide.