The coaches’ press conference the morning before the Orange Bowl Playoff semifinal where the Oklahoma Sooners face the Alabama Crimson Tide began on time as scheduled.
Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley arrived with Nick Saban head coach of the Crimson Tide. Riley sporting a grey suit, white shirt and crimson tie with a hint of the purple pattern reflected. Saban in attendance was wearing a crimson sports jacket, brown khaki pants, white shirt and tie in a solid crimson color.
From my vantage point, I did not get a look at the shoes of the high profile coaches. I apologize.
They both sat on their respective sides with the Orange Bowl trophy filled with oranges separating them on the stage and tables they sat on.
Opening statements thanking the college football playoff committee, South Florida hosting the game and Orange Bowl committee kicked off the opening remarks.
Questions began with the usual banter back and forth. However, it was Saban who caught my attention replying to a question to his old traditional ways. Surprisingly, sharing the purpose of him using a cell phone in the year 2018, to only make a call. Not even send a text message.
Saban said that he’s “never sent a text message.”
Fast forward to game day under the lights at Hard Rock Stadium. His star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who Saban offered a scholarship to over the phone; threw for 318 yards and four touchdowns and No. 1-ranked Alabama beat No. 4 Oklahoma 45-34 on Saturday night in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Orange Bowl.
In the opening minutes of the game, Alabama punched hard, but Oklahoma could not punch back with their Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Kyler Murray who Tagovailoa finished runner-up to.
“The slow start got us beat,” Murray said. “It’s tough to come back from that.”
The Sooners (12-2) are still seeking their first national title since the 2000 season.
The defending champion Crimson Tide led 28-0 after only 17 minutes.
Tagovailoa completed his first nine passes for 184 yards, Murray was sacked twice before he threw a pass, and his first completion came with his team already down 21-0.
“It’s always good to see your hard work pay off,” said Tagovailoa, who played on a sore left ankle. His completion percentage was an Orange Bowl record.
The beat goes on.
Saban and Alabama (14-0) advanced to the national championship game for the fourth consecutive season and will play Jan. 7 in Santa Clara, California against the Clemson Tigers as I predicted in my preview, which beat Notre Dame 30-3 in the Cotton Bowl. The Tigers ranked No. 2, and Alabama will face off in the playoffs for the fourth year in a row and have split two title games.
Back to Saban’s cell phone use.
While sitting in the middle of the press conference, as continuous questions continued in the background. It was a head scratcher and a little unbelievable that Saban can access his text messages but doesn’t know how to send a reply (he more likely just chooses not to), he also refrains from sending an email.
Nearly everything needs an email address attached to it from bank statements to daily subscriptions. However, Saban has the National title game to prepare for and not one email to worry about.
Moreover, in the age of recruiting where the smartphone is king and social media going viral with the snap of a finger. Of all of Saban’s amazing teams, this one might be his best yet.
Many argue Tagovailoa lost the Heisman trophy because he barely played in the fourth quarter for most of the games this season since the Crimson Tide put opponents away handedly. Saban at 67 years of age originally called Tua and his family two years ago on the phone to verbally offer him his scholarship to attend Alabama. It was on a rainy afternoon in Hawaii. Diane, Tua’s mother, pulled the car over while fighting back the tears.
“I guess I am just old fashion,” Saban said. “I am a little older than some of you folks in here. I have been doing things a certain way for a long time. I really like to communicate with our players face to face.”
Saban even has a policy where no cell phones are allowed on the sideline; instead, the focus should solely be on the football game.
No text or Instagram like was needed to recruit Tagovailoa to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. This season, the Tide rolled to wins with Tua’s accuracy moreover even on a sore ankle in the win over the Sooners making him arguably the greatest quarterback in school’s history with the school’s greatest offense.
“I really don’t email; I don’t have twitter, I don’t have any of the social media type stuff, “ Saban said. “Which is a great way to communicate, I like to make it a little more personal, and it seems to work with our players.
Saban moves closer to his seventh national title, which would break the record he shares with the Crimson Tide’s Bear Bryant.
“I hate it when somebody said I texted him to be here at 9:30, but he is not here, why did you just talk to him,” Saban said. “Why didn’t you just tell him to be here at 9:30. How do you know he got the text? ”
Tua has more than 405 family members attending the game in Santa Clara. Tagovailoa will have several fans traveling from his home state of Hawaii, many of his relatives are from the Bay Area, so getting to the Santa Clara stadium, which is about 40 miles outside of San Francisco, requires minimal travel. But family members are also driving from Utah, Colorado, and Seattle, according to the report from AL.com.
How did he organize and coordinate the travels? Chances are he sent some texts.