Football’s Pacifism: Mike Bianchi, Nick Saban and War Analogies

Mike Bianchi is an unhappy cat.  A writer for the Orlando Sentinel, Bianchi wrote a piece criticizing Alabama football coach Nick Saban for using … a military reference?


You can read his drivel here, but with a title like “Shame on Nick Saban for comparing Jim Tressel to a fallen soldier,” you knew that Bianchi was going to bitch and moan about military references.

I have never understood the over-sensitivity to war references in relation to football.  Military references are probably more apropos for football than any other sport.  Yet, such references make Bianchi’s asshole tighten up so much he could suck up buttermilk with it.  He claims that Saban “disgustingly compared ousted football coach Jim Tressel to a fallen soldier.”  He goes on to chastise Saban for comparing Alabama’s 2007 loss to Louisiana-Monroe to the “catastrophic national tragedies of 9/11 and Pearl Harbor.”

Again, huh?

First off, the real tragedy is that Bianchi is on point in questioning the “honor among thieves” and the lack of criticism of Tressel from college football coaches.  To be fair, football coaches rarely criticize other coaches publicly.  But much of what Bianchi writes on this subject is quite good.  That is what is “disgusting” [if you must go that far].

But comparing football to military is somehow wrong?  I do not get that.  Some will say that it is insensitive, but that is far-fetched.  Are some, like Bianchi, suggesting that it can never be referenced?  Or, do we have to wait until the “time is right”?  But if that is the case, then when will that be?  Tomorrow?  Next year?  Next century?  Why is it “insensitive” to reference war with football, but not religion — as in football is a religion in the South?  Or why is no one getting up in arms when violent rhetoric, such as “it is a massacre” or “that wide out was annihilated,” is used?  So, suddenly, only war references are taboo?

Have people like Bianchi never heard of the Border War?  Kansas v. Missouri?  Wait, bad example.  Well, how about the Holy War (BYU v. Utah), or the Civil War (Oregon v. Oregon State)?  What about the Battle for the Victory Bell (Cincinnati v. Miami U.), Battle of the Palmetto State (Clemson v. South Carolina), Battle of I-75 (Bowling Green v. Toledo), or the more recent [i.e., post-9/11]  Battle for the Bones (Memphis v. UAB)?  What about all the prior references to “going to war” and “battling in the trenches”?  Hell, military philosophies from Halford Mackinder to Alexander de Seversky are actually applicable in college football!  Where was the outrage then?  Where was the outrage during and after World War II?  Where was the disgust to military references prior to 9/11?

They did not exist!  No one had a problem with it then.  No one was claiming that war references were offensive to those fighting in Kuwait in the early 1990s.  The references to battling in the trenches and the Civil War were used then and they are still used today.  Even new “battles” — Battle for the Bones — have been invented.  The over-sensitivity concerning military references in football in the post-9/11 era is insincere.  It is insincere because people like Bianchi only become vocal on the issue when it is negatively referenced…or it comes from someone that people dislike — like Saban; like Kellen Winslow, Jr. [“I’m a fuckin’ soldier!”].  Otherwise, the cliches and rivalries “fight on” in the rhetoric of college football, even if there is a slow move towards the pacification of football referencing.

Perhaps Bianchi has an axe to grind with Nick Saban.  After all, he went out of his way to criticize Saban’s (rightful) depiction of agents as “pimps.”  And he miscosntrued Saban’s words in reference to the UL-Monroe game — Saban was making an historical reference to those events having a cataclysmic effect that forced change.  Saban also reference alcoholics hitting rock bottom, but no one bitched about that; I guess alcoholism is funny.  But like Kevin Scarbinsky’s unnecessary shot at Saban in his latest “article” in The Birmingham News, Bianchi does seem to have something against Saban.

All of this stated, as I noted above, Bianchi does actually make a good point.  How is Tressel still “one of the finest people in” college football?  For this, Bianchi is correct to question the sympathetic response to Tressel’s dismissal.

I suppose Saban should have referenced Communism and the Soviet Union when using “comrade.”


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