TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama fans aren't the only ones
treating the Louisiana-Monroe loss as a monumental event.
Coach Nick Saban described the humbling defeat in almost
apocalyptic terms Monday, mentioning the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and
Pearl Harbor in talking about how his team must rebound like
America did from a "catastrophic event."
"Changes in history usually occur after some kind of
catastrophic event," Saban said. "It may be 9/11, which sort of
changed the spirit of America relative to catastrophic events.
Pearl Harbor kind of got us ready for World War II, and that was a
If the comparisons seem over the top, well, it is Iron Bowl
Saban didn't compare the embarrassing 21-14 loss to
Louisiana-Monroe to those events, but picked those historical
references to illustrate that this could be a pivotal week for the
A Saban spokesman said the coach chose the 9/11 and Pearl Harbor
references to illustrate this could be a pivotal week for the
"What Coach Saban said did not correlate losing a football game
with tragedy, everyone needs to understand that. He was not
equating losing football games to those catastrophic events,"
football spokesman Jeff Purinton said in a statement to The
Associated Press. "The message was that true spirit and unity
become evident in the most difficult of times. Those were two
tremendous examples that everyone can identify with."
Alabama (6-5, 4-3 Southeastern Conference) is preparing to face
its biggest rival, No. 25 Auburn. The Tide is in a precarious spot
leading up to Saturday's visit to the Tigers, having been stung by
three consecutive losses that have put Saban's first Alabama team
in danger of getting snubbed by bowls and having a .500 record.
The latest defeat was definitely a low-point, especially
following on the heels of losses to No. 1 LSU and Mississippi
State. It led Saban to another non-football analogy.
"They talk about alcoholics and people like that who never ever
change until they hit rock bottom," Saban said. "Well, they
change because when they hit rock bottom they have an awareness,
they have an acceptance and a commitment to change.
"That's what our players need to do right now because in the
past two weeks since the LSU game, I haven't seen the same spirit,
I haven't seen the same work ethic. That's something we've got to
The Tide has had off-the-field troubles in addition to a
disappointing season. In the latest cases, five players were
suspended for the past four games for improper receipt of textbooks
and receiver DJ Hall was held out in the first half of the
Louisiana-Monroe game for violating team rules. All those players
are back for the Iron Bowl.
Those issues are part of the reason Saban is so bothered by his
"I don't think anyone in this room would have bet that we would
lose back-to-back games to Mississippi State or ULM," Saban said
in his weekly news conference. "There's really a reason for
He said that reason has to do with suspensions, players being
late to meetings or not focusing in practice. Then, there's the
"Not finishing plays. Not finishing games. Not finishing the
season," Saban said. "You get humiliated, and that's basically
The Tide players also struggled to put the loss in perspective,
though none used quite the same approach as their coach. Alabama
was favored by 24½ points in the game, but had a series of costly
mistakes that included four turnovers, a blocked field goal and
three fruitless trips well into Louisiana-Monroe territory in the
"I don't know if you really can put it into words," safety
Rashad Johnson said. "We lost to a team that wasn't better than
us, and it was all on us why we lost the game."
Receiver Matt Caddell said the team can't dwell on that loss --
or forget it.
"You've got to put it behind you, but you can't forget about
it," Caddell said. "You just have to use it as a motivator to not
be in that situation again. That's a lifelong lesson."
A win over Auburn would take some of the sting off, and likely
erase any doubt that Alabama is bowl-bound. Plus, the Tide wants to
stop a five-year losing streak to its biggest rival.
"I don't think there is a guy who doesn't know the seriousness
of this game," linebacker Darren Mustin said. "I don't think
there is a person on this team who doesn't know how big this is for
us, how we need this game for our future, for our present, for