Everyone was a little surprised after Nick Saban’s “Hey Coach” radio show last week.
The University of Alabama football coach was asked about the Tennessee rivalry, and he put it above the Iron Bowl, which features in-state competitor Auburn.
“It was very obvious to me that the Tennessee game was always the biggest game,” Saban said. “It was always the biggest game for us. That’s no disrespect to Auburn or the great Iron Bowl rivalries. But to our players and a lot of our fans, the Tennessee game, because of the tradition of the game… so it didn’t take long to figure that out.”
Some of the players decided to comment on which is bigger in their minds as well, as they were available to the media on Monday.
“Even as a little kid, the third Saturday in October was Tennessee weekend. That’s the game,” outside linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton said. “I think that rivalry is right up there with Auburn.”
Others still think the Iron Bowl is the No. 1 rivalry.
Prattville, Alabama, native O.J. Howard knows which one may be talked about more, but he was still asked if the third week in October was bigger.
“I wouldn’t say bigger. To some people it is. Some of the fans really think it’s bigger, but I think they are both kind of important,” Howard said. “You know Auburn is just an in-state team and that’s why I think it’s really important. It’s our rivalry in the same state so only one person can have bragging rights for the whole year. So that’s why I think the Auburn game, but this [Tennessee game] is definitely important to a lot of people.”
No. 9 Tennessee is looking to have another good game against Alabama. The Volunteers were the closest, besides Clemson and obviously Ole Miss, to knock off the Crimson Tide last season.
Alabama pulled through, though. Its 19-14 win proved pivotal as Alabama won the SEC West by a single game.
One of the traditions in the Alabama-Tennessee rivalry is the winning team smokes cigars after the game. All the players come back to the locker room and cigars are waiting for them.
The Crimson Tide hasn’t put the cigar down for nine straight seasons.
“It was a big win my freshman year at Tennessee,” offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher said. “So I just think it meant a lot for us. It’s just something different, definitely, to be smoking a cigar with your coaches and stuff like that after a game. I’d never experienced that before.”
Whether it is the biggest rivalry or not, it is still an important game for the Crimson Tide. Alabama is looking to remain undefeated, and the players hope that smoke fills the locker room for yet another year.
Source:: The Crimson White Sports