Casagrande: Alabama’s depth chart got irritating so Saban killed it

This is an opinion column.

There was always a fun side to Monday’s first week of matches in Tuscaloosa.

Taken out of the printer, the papers were strewn across the Alabama press room just seconds before Nick Saban climbed to his stand. The choreography was military accurate.

that He was Depth chart on Monday.

to cut

Cause of death: anxiety.

Never again will Saban’s lecture defining our favorite format association come from a Mercedes microphone next to promotional soda and water bottles. Generations of sportswriters will forget the meaning of “or”—a staple of the weekend before Labor Day—when Saban reluctantly revealed what were once called organizational rallies.

And after 16 years of this ritual, Saban followed through on that threat from last season’s season-opening win over Utah State and dropped the axe.

Related: Casagrande: Why is this going to be a weird season for college football?

Now this isn’t a matter of strategy games with Middle Tennessee coming to town on Saturday. If that was the case, he would have canceled it before he played one of the Labor Day specials in Atlanta or Dallas against USC or Florida State.

It’s even simpler than that.

Saban, basically, does not want the headache that comes with the depth chart on Monday.

A year ago this weekend, Saban took issue with a post-match question about the starting line-ups being different from Monday’s layout.

“The biggest problem for me on the whole team was the day the depth chart came out,” Saban said, heralding a move this year after the 55-0 humiliation of Utah State. “You may have seen the last part….because that’s all you’re worried about.”

The tone was similar on Monday when he made good on that promise.

“It creates a lot of distractions for our team,” Saban said of the depth chart. “It makes a lot of players think now this guy has won the job and I’m not going to play or anything. And quite frankly, we don’t need that.”

But when the message from the same platform deals with mental toughness and maturity, how does that reinforce it?

No need to talk about the Share Cup but are players affected to see what could be bad news that may already be evident internally?

Saban has a 16-0 record in Alabama’s season openers when he played mostly Power 5 teams in Week 1. And each overcame whatever depth of adversity chart Monday presented.

As with the complete removal of media viewing windows, it was down to the irritation factor.

“If you don’t accept, I will let you (attend),” Saban said after training on August 1. “The only thing you’re going to do is take a roll. I mean, see who’s missing in the flex and then I’m going to get 62 questions of ‘why didn’t that guy line up where he usually does.’ I mean if we ask smart questions, it’s going to be different in terms of practice.” And it will be interesting.

Like closing all but one practice a year, Alabama has a slim minority of SEC schools now abstaining from Depth Chart Monday ceremonies. Only three out of 14 others are keeping theoretical depth charts in the public domain as of Saturday,’s Matt Stahl found. Not including two-time defending National Champion Georgia, Kirby Smart must also keep his deep talent pools happy with only 22 starting points available.

At Auburn, Hugh Freese snubbed a question about the depth chart released Monday morning.

“I’ll be completely honest with you: I don’t even have a depth chart, so I don’t know where that came from,” said Freese. “I guess it’s from the realm of SID. I don’t do depth charts. It’s really bullshit. I mean you’re going to play 4-5 outside receivers and 2-3 inside receivers in our system. I don’t care who goes out with the first set or the second set. It just spins free. , so I don’t do a lot of these depth charts.

And that’s always how they were seen on Depth Chart Monday in Tuscaloosa. The “ORs” flowed freely to determine the contests that ran through week one and beyond. It’s hard to believe that many people think that warm sheets of 8.5″ x 11″ documents are carved into tables.

But this message is not universally received.

“I want all of our players to continue to be competitive, to continue to compete for playing time, and to try to play at the highest level,” Saban said on Monday. And I don’t want anyone on our team to think he’s a backup player or anything. The depth chart type does that.

So speculation will continue. Message boards and social media pages will still fuel rumors because the information vacuum only creates a black market for those distracting leaks.

One can assume that great center Seth McLaughlin knows who to start in his position. Smart money would be on it. How does he feel about this?

“I don’t know if we’ve put in an in-depth chart this year, but I don’t know if it’s going to be distracting at all because what we put out there might not be exactly what we had on day one,” McLaughlin said. “Match after match, coach Saban will put the players in the best position to win.”


And that was also true of Monday’s depth chart era when Saban won seven national titles.

In any case, “or means or,” as Saban infamously put it in his 2008 depth chart on Monday. He wasn’t the least bit annoyed by the whole dynamic at the time when he took issue with hypothetical deep quests before Season 2 kicked off in Scarlet.

But he’s clearly found the tipping point as the late August tradition becomes too annoying.

In his closing argument, Saban said, “Nobody gets to play, just because we put that on a piece of paper. And he says that’s the way it is today. I apologize for that, but that’s the way it is.”

No more depth chart Mondays in these parts.

The party is over.

Michael Casagrande is a reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @ by Casagrande or on Facebook.

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