LSU-Alabama moves beyond coaching rivalry

Does it matter that LSU loyalists view Alabama coach Nick Saban like an ex-wife who married an archenemy? And so what if Alabama fans dismiss LSU coach Les Miles as a big-time trash-talker?

The annual LSU-Alabama football grudge match never has been about the coaches, anyway. Right?
Saban, a former LSU coach, became a traitor in Louisiana after he took the coaching job at Alabama three years ago. When he used a derogatory term to describe an LSU fan in January 2007, the gauntlet was thrown down.

Miles offended Crimson Tide fans last season when he spoke of a growing rivalry with Ala-bleeping-bama. Miles urged LSU fans “not to make too much of that game, as it seems like a lot of teams in Louisiana beat that team.” He was referencing Alabama’s 21-14 upset loss to Louisiana-Monroe in 2007.

So no matter what they claimed, LSU’s 41-34 victory over Alabama in ’07 and the Crimson Tide’s 27-21 overtime victory in last season’s rematch were, at least to some extent, about the coaches.

Saturday’s clash isn’t.

Saban and Miles still are detested by the opposing fan bases, but this season’s game has more at stake.

In the two previous meetings, one of the teams had two losses. This time, it’s about gaining the advantage in the SEC West race, advancing to challenge Florida in the SEC championship game and possibly playing for a national championship.