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September 6, 2012I've never met Western Kentucky football coach Willie Taggart, but he seems like the sort of person I like to see in his profession - successful, brash, quotable and confident.
I have, on the other hand, met hyperbole many times. Enough times, certainly, to make it recognizable to me when it comes walking down the street. That is what happened earlier this week, when Taggart, in some of his media appearances prior to the Alabama-WKU game, said that Alabama "should be the next NFL expansion team." One version - and Taggart has made numerous media appearances, so there is no reason to doubt its veracity - had the WKU coach saying that Alabama could beat "five or six NFL teams."
Let's just stop it, OK? I understand Taggart's point - Alabama is loaded with talent. I understand the use of exaggeration to make a point. People do that all the time. They say they are "going to have to wait an eternity" for something, but you really don't have to wait an eternity for something unless you are waiting for Gary Danielson to get to the point.
But let's be clear about something. No college team is going to beat an NFL team. No college team is the equal of an expansion franchise. The last expansion franchise in the NFL was the 2002 Houston Texans, who went a respectable 4-12. That team had two Pro Bowlers - Aaron Glenn and Gary Walker - and a quarterback, David Carr, who was good when protected.
On top of that, the Texans had 50 other NFL players. Now, Alabama has some good players. It has some future first-rounders, emphasizing the word "future." But no college team has 53 NFL players on its roster. The 2001 Miami Hurricanes, generally regarded as the most talented college team ever, had 23 eventual NFL players, not 53. (To be fair, a jaw-dropping 16 were eventual first-rounders.)
College teams just don't go that deep, not at every position.
Nick Saban, asked about Taggart's comments on Wednesday's SEC teleconference, sidestepped the query as deftly as T.J. Yeldon dodges a tackler.
"I know he does a lot of NFL stuff that we're trying to get our college players to learn how to play," Saban said. "Our guys go to school like everybody else, try to do the right thing like everybody else. We're trying to get our players better, probably like everybody else does."
Of course, the last thing Saban wants to do is give anyone - least of all his own players - the idea that Alabama has such overwhelming talent that it can win without maximum effort. The fact is that Alabama and LSU and Southern Cal do have lots of talent, and maybe if you combined the three rosters you would have a strong future NFL squad, although one wonders if Saban would survive long - literally - as co-coach with Les Miles and Lane Kiffin.
So, with a full understanding of what Taggart meant, let's all agree that Alabama is a very good college team - and leave it there.
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0225.