FOUR TAKEAWAYS | There’s no arguing with Nick Saban


Our top four takeaways from the weekend:


Nevada head coach Brian Polian knows this feeling:

Polian, the son of former NFL executive Bill Polian, got his start in coaching as a graduate assistant on Nick Saban’s Michigan State staff in 1997. The Spartans finished 7-5 and lost the Aloha Bowl.

“Those 11 months were the longest 10 years of my life,” Polian joked before the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl last  year. “I was scared to death of Coach Saban — and he liked me.”

Polian’s experience may help explain Saban’s  outburst at Lane Kiffin on Saturday. Alabama beat Western Kentucky 38-10, but Saban said it was the most “disappointed” he’s ever been after a win. The Crimson Tide committed 12 penalties, rushed for fewer than 3.3 yards per carry and fumbled late to set up Western Kentucky’s only touchdown.

Saban let his offensive coordinator know that he’s no less demanding today than he was then, in only his fourth season as a head coach. It’s the Saban way, which made a lasting impression on Polian.

“That was a graduate-level football course,” he said. “The single biggest lesson I learned from Coach Saban is that there is exactly right and then there’s wrong. And if you did it 85% right, it’s not right.

There are too many people in this day and age, especially young people, who (say), ‘Hey I tried my best, I did the best I could, I got most of it right.’ Well, in the real world you gotta get it all right. Learned that lesson as a 22-year-old the hard way.”


Officials incorrectly gave Central Michigan the ball with no time remaining Saturday at Oklahoma State. The result was a fantastic finish — CMU’s Hail Mary pass-and-lateral stunned the No. 22 Cowboys, 30-27.

But it also resulted in a two-game suspension of the eight-person MAC crew and two-person Big 12 replay crew working the game.

If the penalty statement includes the statement ‘loss of down’ then the game ends on that play,” game referee Tim O’Dey explained.

But why? A game can’t end on a defensive penalty. How can it end on an offensive penalty?

“The game cannot end on an accepted live ball foul,” O’Dey said. “That’s the rule. There’s an exception to the rule that says if enforcement of the foul involves a loss of down.”

Rules are rules, but it might be time to reconsider this one.

We should be talking about an exceptional play, not an exception to the rules.


After six victories in Week 1, Group of 5 teams beat three more Power 5 opponents on Saturday.

Ohio routed Kansas, Cincinnati blasted Purdue and Central Michigan stunned Oklahoma State.

So remind us again: Who’s in the Power 5?

The distinction is becoming more blurred — even for Alabama.

“It’s time,” wrote The Crimson White, “to take the Group of Five seriously.”

ESPN’s Brett McMurphy is — he projects Houston will play Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinals.

» Speaking of the Group of 5, here’s our G-5 Top 5:

  1. Houston
  2. San Diego State
  3. Boise State
  4. Central Michigan
  5. Cincinnati

» Meanwhile, five schools from the ASN family are in the top 11 of the latest STATS FCS Poll — No. 2 Richmond, No. 3 Sam Houston State, No. 4 Jacksonville State, No. 6 Chattanooga and No. 11 James Madison. Catch Richmond on ASN Saturday at noon ET against Stony Brook.



Holy Cross senior quarterback Peter Pujals is third in FCS passing yards and continues to pile up milestones.

He threw for 427 yards and three touchdowns on 42-of-64 passing in a 39-28 loss at New Hampshire.

His second career 400-yard game moved him into seventh in Patriot League history with 8,476 yards. He also became the fourth player in league history with 10,000 yards of total offense and set a school single-game record with 42 completions.

Catch Pujals and the Crusaders on ASN Oct. 22 at noon ET against Lehigh.


» Joining Pujals in the FCS top 10 are Samford’s Devlin Hodges, Western Carolina’s Tyrie Adams and Central Arkansas’ Hayden Hildebrand. Adams, the Southern Conference’s Offensive Player of the Week, is also up for ASN’s FCS Player of the Week.

» Middle Tennessee’s Brent Stockstill, Toledo’s Logan Woodside and East Carolina’s Philip are among the top 10 in FBS passing yards. Catch Stockstill on ASN Saturday at noon ET against Bowling Green.

PHOTO CREDITS: Nick Saban via Twitter;  Peter Pujals courtesy of Patriot League

Mike Bambach

Mike Bambach is senior web producer for ASN.