Mike’d Up: Shady Coaches and should Saban have kicked that?

Last week, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and Brooklyn Nets HC Jason Kidd got in hot water after utilizing questionable tactics to give their teams an edge.

Kowaleski: For those who didn’t see, Tomlin momentarily stepped onto the field of play when Ravens kick returner Jacoby Jones was returning a kickoff down his sideline. The action caused Jones to veer away from him and into a tackler. The night before, Kidd directed one of his players to bump into him so that he could spill his drink onto the court, temporarily halting play and giving his Nets time to draw up a final play.

Now, I’m pretty sure Tomlin wasn’t trying to cheat, but at the same time I wouldn’t be surprised if he was—it’s a predictably savvy move by one of my favorite coaches in the game. However, it can’t be excused either way. Tomlin inadvertently prevented a touchdown from being scored. Baltimore should’ve easily put the game away there instead of it coming down to the wire like it ended up doing. It was a direct rule violation.

Meanwhile, Kidd merely took advantage of a loophole in the rules that mandated that games be paused while spillage is cleaned up on the court. Not that coaches are going to start hurling beverages on the court any time soon—his $50,000 fine will make sure that never happens again. But his move wasn’t as blatantly illegal as Tomlins.

I’m just glad both teams lost. Otherwise, we wouldn’t hear the end of it. It would be stupid sportswriter Black Friday, talking about the integrity of the respective games and yadda yadda yadda.

Anyways. I’m guessing you’re going to defend your beloved Steelers coach?

Kelley: You guessed right.

I watched Tomlin in his press conference on Tuesday. I was particularly interested to see how he would respond to the national coverage and criticism that ensued. It was a unique press conference for Tomlin. Time and again, we have watched as he has simply outsmarted the media, at times almost mocking them.

But on Tuesday, with the audience much larger than usual, Tomlin was at his most sincere. He made it clear that he would accept any punishment handed down to him by the NFL. He apologized for the incident and said it was embarrassing. He also made it clear that in no way what he did was intentional.

Cheaters should not be allowed in the NFL. If it were intentional, I would accept the Steelers firing their head coach, despite the fact that he is someone I hold in the highest regard, someone I idolize.

To those that know me and my love for the Steelers, you may be surprised to know that I was not upset or disappointed with the loss on Thanksgiving night against the Ravens. That sideline incident saved four points, points that were crucial down the stretch. The Steelers did not deserve to win that game. The fact that they had the chance to tie it seemed silly. A victory would have not felt right. This incident would have been blown to even bigger proportions.

That is my take. When defending Tomlin, there is no space in this column for any discussion of Jason Kidd.

 

In an unforgettable ending, Auburn won last Saturday’s Iron Bowl when they returned a missed 57-yard field goal for a TD as time expired. The question is: should Alabama have been kicking at all?

Kowaleski: This is obviously a tough question that can’t be answered just by considering the outcome of the game. That is to say, we have to consider the play from head coach Nick Saban’s perspective before Chris Davis took it 109 yards to the house.

He made the right call, odds-wise–From Saban’s perspective, this was a low-risk, high-reward move. Yes, a 57-yard field goal is difficult from any level. And yes, Alabama had missed three field goals prior. But let’s consider that if the ball goes one yard farther, Davis can’t bring it out, since it would sail out of the end zone.

Adam Griffith, the Crimson Tide backup kicker, had basically less than a 10 percent chance of making the kick, but the likelihood that Davis would not only field it, but take it 109 yards the other way, is even slimmer. It was an insane ending because it was so unlikely.

Despite the outcome of the game, I’m 100 percent behind Saban here.

Kelley: No way, Jose. Zero chance I am behind Saban. We are on polar opposites for this argument.

We are talking about the most talented and savvy head coach in all of college football. He is the master. All others are simply below him. It was a coaching blunder that will most likely cost Alabama a national championship.

It was almost as though he didn’t think there was a chance for a runback. His players on the field at the time weighed an average of 300 pounds. No one was running down Davis. Who could believe it? The master of detail, day in day out, made such an inexcusable mistake.

This one is on him and solely him, the decision that is.

You say “if the ball goes one yard farther.” Well, it didn’t. It went one yard short. Davis ran it back. Alabama and #RollTide nation must now wait and pray for losses by Florida State, Ohio State and Auburn. The odds seem slim.

Saban has had so much success. But to commit a blunder so costly, it will be one forever etched in his mind. In our minds.

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