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Pundit Roundup

Making Tuesday fun since 2006!

... Eddie Robinson is kind of a big deal Edition

--- ESPN's Bruce Feldman leads off with a remembrance of Grambling coach Eddie Robinson who died last Tuesday.  From Feldman's cub reporter days:

I was pretty stunned. Eddie Robinson's calling here? I scrambled to find my sheet of questions and explained what my book was about.

His first answer lasted 15 minutes. Midway through it, he paused.

"Do you have time for this?" he asked.

"Please," I replied.

"I just don't want to bore you."

He went on for about 20 minutes, weaving in anecdotes about coaching and teaching and how much he actually had learned from the men he had coached and how proud he was of all of them, not just the ones who made it in the NFL. He was a great storyteller. About the only other person who could run with a topic like he did was boxer Bernard Hopkins.

We ended up talking for about three hours about his life, Grambling State and how proud he was to be an American, among other things. It is one of the most memorable interviews I'd ever done.

--- ESPN's Ivan Maisel has a lengthy retelling of Dennis Erickson's odd career path as he now settles in at Arizona State.

There's too much to excerpt but it's interesting to hear Erickson's interpretation of his career.

--- ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski memorializes the late Grambling State coach Eddie Robinson.

But the quote I like best from Robinson is the one where he said, "A young man may not make the team, but he might go on to be one of the guys that might change the course of the world. We have to give something back."

Coach Rob gave something back. He never quit giving.

--- ESPN's Bill Curry also offers his thoughts on Robinson.

In the early '50s, Robinson had the audacity to attend the convention of the all-white American Football Coaches' Association. According to his biographer Rich Lapchick, he thought very differently than most of us would have. As he walked into the auditorium and scanned the audience of famous big-time coaches, he began to calculate. He pondered, "I wonder how long it will take for me to become president of this organization?" It took only 25 years. In 1976, he became president of our most august coaches' organization, having won the universal respect of his peers across the nation. Nothing intimidated Eddie Robinson.

--- Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel chases down Florida State coach Bobby Bowden for his thoughts on Robinson's life and passing.

Plus reaction from Tennessee coach Phil Fullmer and AFCA Executive Director Grant Teaff.

Also: Getting a read on the early months of the Saban regime at Alabama.

Same old Saban ...

New Alabama coach Nick Saban doesn't have time for you. Or me. Or anyone that's not one of the 85 or so football players he's trying to turn into champions (or the prospective recruits he'd like to add to those 85). Thus, he treats the rest of his world -- assistants, support staff, the media -- accordingly.

During a two-day visit to Alabama last week, I watched college football's first $4 million man patronize his team's beat writers throughout a 10-minute press conference, dress down a school official ("I don't have time for this s---," he barked) and blow off our pre-arranged interview.

I left town certain of two things: That Nick Saban is every bit the jerk he's made out to be -- and that he's exactly what the doctor ordered for the Alabama football program.

Some depth issues will force a modification of his defense this year as he adds a 3-4 look to his 4-3 scheme.

The most intriguing question surrounding the Tide is what impact Saban, a renowned defensive mind, will have on a side of the ball where 'Bama, at least in terms of numbers, is disturbingly thin. The secondary should be solid, but the Tide returned just two lettermen at defensive tackle, prompting Saban to install a base 3-4 defense that will include two converted ends, Ezekial Knight and Keith Saunders, at outside linebacker.

USC did that last year but I gotta believe Saban will lose patience with it at some level and try to game as much 4-3 into his defense as possible.

--- CBS Sportsline's Dennis Dodd has added his reflections of Eddie Robinson's legacy.

God has incredible timing, or at least a sports calendar handy. Baseball has just cranked up. Eddie was taken two days after the Final Four ended, a day before the Masters will start. We have to pay attention, which is fitting because Eddie was ignored for so long.

--- Yahoo! Sports' Terry Bowden recalls the only time he saw Eddie Robinson speak, back in 1982.

Also: various notes from his "Bowden Files" blog thing.

Did you know Jim Tressel has a shot at 400 career wins before he reaches the age of 80?  Terry Bowden's done the math.

--- The Sporting News' Matt Hayes says Ed Orgeron may need to count on a walk-on quarterback to save the season for Ole Miss.

---The Sporting News' Tom Dienhart ranks the Big 12 and Pac-10 coaches.

My quickie list - Big 12: Bob Stoops, Mack Brown, Dan Hawkins, Mike Leach, Dennis Franchione, Guy Morriss, Mike Gundy, Ron Prince, Bill Callahan, Mark Mangino, Gary Pinkel (N/A Gene Chizik)

My quickie list - Pac-10: Pete Carroll, Jeff Tedford, Dennis Erickson, Mike Riley, Mike Bellotti, Mike Stoops, Karl Dorrell, Tyrone Willingham, Bill Doba (N/A Jim Harbaugh)

--- Sun Sports' Whit Watson says Florida's success is rooted in its 'will to win'

In an indirect way he's calling the other Florida schools that let this success happen (ahem, Miami, ahem, Florida State) slugs.

Also: a follow-up article about fan protocol between the "big three" fan bases in Florida.

--- The Mobile Register's Paul Finebaum says he's never met a finer man (among coaches he's met) than Eddie Robinson.

However, the highlight of the trip occurred the night before at a banquet. The guest speaker was Jesse Owens, one of the most renowned athletes in history, a young man born in Alabama who went on to win four gold medals at Hitler's 1936 Olympics. Owens was not well but the audience hung on every word.

As the dinner was breaking up, I was waiting for Robinson to ride back to the hotel and he motioned me over. I saw him standing with Owens, and I looked around to see if he was talking to someone else.

There was no one else around. He wanted me to meet one of the seminal figures in the history of sports.

Robinson introduced me to Owens as if I were some important sportswriter (I was five months out of college). Owens greeted me like and old friend, and the three of us chatted for a couple of minutes before we headed back.

I'm not big on snapping pictures with celebrities, but what I wouldn't give to have that picture hanging in my den today. I thought about that moment several months later when Owens died and I'm thinking about it again this week in the wake of Eddie Robinson's passing.

One hates to overpersonalize something at a time like this. I never played for Coach Rob and although we did speak occasionally over the years, you could line thousands of people around 10 city blocks who knew the man better than I did. But for a brief shining moment, he made me feel like the most important person in the world. Of course, I didn't know at the time that was one of his greatest gifts. He made everyone feel like that.

Perhaps that's why so many are mourning his death and, more importantly, celebrating his long and rich life.

That's all.  It has been a pleasure writing this, simultaneously reading and absorbing as our scribes spin the yarn a little bit about Eddie Robinson.  I'm younger than most of them and much of Robinson's legacy was intact well before I could possess a consciousness of the world.  It's soothing to read and relay these stories and I hope you take the time to sit down for a few minutes and take in some of their recollections of the man.

I realize we on the internet find myriad ways to mock our college football writers but in doing so sometimes forget they're people too, people who have been witness to extraordinary people and events and are people who once in a while can put that writing talent to work and remind the world the goodness of some of those who sometimes walk among us.  This week was such a time for them.

To read articles and blog entries from many other college football writers, be sure and visit CFR's "The Punditry" links.  You can either bookmark that link or find it via CFR's College Football Links section on the menu at left.

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Reader Comments (4)

47 comments on the 8 or 16 tema playoff vs plus-one advocates vs BCS vs the rose bowl -old skool amish style- popularity-contest MNC.

0 comments on coach eddie's passing.

I hear Imus is going to do a guest eulogy for CFR
April 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterGabe Harris
I know this, USC would have destroyed the gators, the buckeyes, or eddie robinson in a playoff. go trojans.
April 13, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterpatrick
maybe, but then they'd have gotten beat by Oregon State
April 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterGabe Harris
Ah, but then Chuck Norris would have destroyed Oregon State. So I guess everything would have evened out in the end.
April 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBurrill

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