College Football’s Game Within The Game Is Injury B.S., Because Most Coaches Are Gutless

It has always been odd to me how many football coaches so often guard the status of key injured players as if they are the Holy Grail, or that Grays Sports Almanac in “Back To The Future II.”

I mean, c’mon, does it really matter whether Max Johnson or Haynes King plays quarterback for Texas A&M (3-2, 1-1 SEC) against No. 1 Alabama (5-0, 2-0 SEC) Saturday night (8 p.m., CBS)?

The Aggies’ offense is going to struggle regardless of who plays quarterback, and 24-point favorite Alabama will probably win comfortably even if Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young does not play quarterback for the Tide.

Young, who sprained his right, throwing shoulder in the second quarter at Arkansas last week, is not expected to play tonight. But at least coach Nick Saban – unlike most coaches – has been honest about Young’s injury all week, going as far as saying on Wednesday that he did not know when he would be able to throw. On Thursday, Saban said Young’s playing status would be a game-time decision.

So, it is no surprise that a report leaked out Friday that he will not play, according to Pro Football Report.

FAYETTEVILLE, AR – OCTOBER 01: Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Milroe (4) is tackled by Arkansas Razorbacks linebacker Drew Sanders (42) during the college football game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Arkansas Razorbacks on October 1, 2022, at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Arkansas. (Photo by Andy Altenburger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Redshirt freshman Jalen Milroe, who played well last week for Young, will start for Alabama.

But there was Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher saying throughout the week that Johnson was day-to-day after supposedly injuring the thumb of his left, throwing hand in the loss at Mississippi State Saturday.

“And it’ll get better each day, hopefully,” Fisher said Wednesday.

SEC QUARTERBACKS INJURY REPORT RESEMBLES MASH UNIT

Truth is, according to a report by ESPN on Thursday, Johnson has a broken hand. Saban said exactly what the injury was. Fisher never did.

So, King will likely start, even though Fisher tried to make people believe this week that he might make true freshman quarterback Conner Weigman’s first collegiate start be at No. 1 Alabama Saturday.

“Conner can play. We can put him in right now,” Fisher said. “I mean, he would be very comfortable.”

Yeah, right Jimbo.

JIMBO FISHER SHOULD JUST CALL NICK SABAN

Fisher didn’t want it out there that Johnson has a broken hand because Alabama would know Johnson wouldn’t play and it could focus on King. But neither quarterback is that good or different from one another. It doesn’t matter who plays. Yet, this is also why he said what he said about Weigman. Asked if King would start should Johnson not be able to to, Fisher got cute.

“I don’t know,” he said. “We’ll go day-to-day. What do you want me to do? Call Nick and tell him? I mean, guys, come on.”

Actually, yes, Jimbo, you should’ve called Nick:

“Hey, Nick, it’s Jimbo. How you doing? Oh, don’t worry about that stuff last spring. We both got carried away. Look, Max is out with a broken hand, and we’re going to start Haynes King. And it doesn’t matter, because we’re going to kick your ass anyway.”

Saban would be so thrown by this, he wouldn’t know what to do.

“Surely, Jimbo’s going to start Max Johnson if he told me he’s going to play King,” he’d tell his staff. “Johnson must NOT be hurt if he told me that. We better prepare for both.”

Of course, he has been preparing for both anyway, because he knows not to listen to the BS.

KENTUCKY QB WILL LEVIS HAS ANKLE INJURY

Meanwhile, Kentucky coach Mark Stoops has been coy about quarterback Will Levis’ ankle injury suffered Saturday at Ole Miss. It could keep him out of Saturday’s home game between No. 13 Kentucky (4-1, 1-1 SEC) against South Carolina (3-2, 0-2 SEC) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday on the SEC Network.

Asked Thursday about Levis’ status, Stoops said, “I don’t know anybody that can predict the future.”

Thanks for the tip, coach.

Early in the week, Stoops discussed Levis injury with more detail – the dislocated finger on his non-throwing hand, not the ankle.

WAIT, BRIAN KELLY WANTS HIS QUARTERBACK TO THROW INTERCEPTIONS?

LSU coach Brian Kelly announced on Monday that his quarterback, Jayden Daniels, was 100 percent – just two days after he limped off the field with a painful, bursitis knee injury. Daniels will likely start Saturday (Noon, ESPN) for LSU (4-1, 2-0 SEC) against No. 8 Tennessee (4-0, 1-0 SEC). But he’s not going to be 100 percent. Don’t be ridiculous, Brian.

Arkansas coach Sam Pittman was as honest as Saban concerning quarterback KJ Jefferson’s concussion.

“We don’t have a clue whether he’s going to play or not,” Pittman said.

ARLINGTON, TX – SEPTEMBER 25: Arkansas Razorbacks quarterback KJ Jefferson (#1) runs up field during the Southwest Classic college football game between the Texas A&M Aggies and Arkansas Razorbacks on September 25, 2021 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. (Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Thank you for that, but Pittman never used the word concussion, and when asked if Jefferson was in the concussion protocol, he said, “I didn’t say that.”

Just say it, particularly considering this recent fiasco with Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s concussion. And say you are taking every precaution with the protocol.

The other team is always going to prepare for multiple possible quarterbacks whenever there is an injury, so why this ridiculous, military-wanna be, charade right out of Dr. Strangelove?

Just say they’re not likely to play in the game, and that you’re going to win anyway. Why can’t more coaches just be bold. “Yeah, this guy’s not playing, but we’re going to win anyway.”

IS BASEBALL MORE MACHO THAN FOOTBALL?

It’s funny, football is viewed as the ultimate macho, militaristic sport, but most of the coaches are too chicken to be more honest about key injuries?

And here’s Major League Baseball, usually not a contact sport with guys playing without much equipment in a park, and their teams not only tell you who’s pitching tomorrow, but the next day and the next day. And if that pitcher doesn’t work out, they say who their middle reliever, set-up man and closer is. In other words, here we are, come beat us.

Why the secrecy? Why the fear? As soon as the game starts, you know who’s playing. And the best coaches are the ones who make adjustments during the game. The game plans often get tossed.

Why the B.S.?

WHAT IF NICK DID CALL JIMBO?

“I don’t talk to Jimbo on a regular basis,” Nick Saban said when asked if a special package has been put in for Milroe – not a smart question. “But I’ll call him and tell him right after the conference if you want me to. You guys think I’m going to tell you what we’re going to do with our offense and our team?”

Yeah, why not, Nick? You should call Jimbo:

“Hey, Jimbo, it’s Nick, how you doing? Look, we’re going to run Milroe a lot because he’s really good at that, and we’re still working on his passing. But we’ll beat you anyway.”

“Uh, yeah, Nick, thanks, but I saw the film. He had a 77-yard run at Arkansas. You think I’m stupid?”

“No, and sorry again for what I said in Birmingham.”

“Sure, but what were you thinking? I’ve been as loyal to you as any of your former coaches. Remember when I waited an hour for you after that national championship game to congratulate you? I forget which one.”

“There have been quite a few.”

Of course, this call would throw Fisher for a loop.

“Guys,” he’d say in the next staff meeting. “Nick just called me and said they’re going with Milroe. We better get ready for Bryce.”

The best thing about the Backup Quarterback Bowl scheduled for Tuscaloosa Saturday night is the fact that it has taken away from the Saban-Fisher feud, and that needed to be diminished. It was covered well when it happened in February, again at the SEC Spring Meetings in May and again at the SEC Media Days in July. Enough.

“Like he said in an interview I saw him in, there were arguments we used to have in staff meetings all the time in a good way,” Fisher said of his time at LSU from 2000-04 as offensive coordinator when Saban was head coach.

“That’s over with,” Fisher said when asked about the feud Monday. “He and I are in great shape. We’ve moved on.”

Asked again, he said. ‘We’ve moved on.” Asked again, he said. “We’re in good shape. We’ve moved on.”

Funny, Saban became famous as LSU’s coach 20 years ago for repeatedly saying, “We’re moving on” when asked about a subject he was done discussing.

“We’re moving on,” became a hilarious regular radio sound bite. Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher are more alike than fans from either side want to admit.

The Saban-Fisher feud may just move on shortly after kickoff Saturday night.

Then Saban and Fisher should really talk on the phone more often … just to B.S.

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

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