It would stink in the best of times, having to suffer through Iron Bowl warmup games like Alabama-Western Carolina and Auburn-Alabama A&M, but these aren’t the best of times.
Alabama and Auburn badly want to change the subject this week and have no shot, playing games about which no one cares.
That has to chafe fans as well as both coaches, Nick “Mr. Process” Saban and Gene “Superheating-Seat” Chizik.
OK, so it wouldn’t matter for Chizik. If Auburn was playing a marquee opponent, then most Auburn fans have seen enough of their pitiful 2012 team to know it would just be another embarrassment and more reason to grapple with how Chizik let a program that won a national title two years ago reach this state.
Playing Alabama A&M? It’ll be a win, and wins come at a premium for 2-8 Auburn this season, but it won’t be a win that could change the subject.
Chizik could use a change of subject amid reports that Auburn president Jay Gogue has begun preliminary preparations to make a coaching change, reports that should shock no one. He would have to be head-in-the-sand incompetent to not be making such preparations at this stage.
As for Louisville offensive coordinator Sean Watson as a possible replacement, we’ll see.
Alabama, on the other hand, could use a change of subject this week. It’s not like the Crimson Tide needs a tune-up for Auburn this year or even a bye week.
The SEC could have let Auburn waltz right into Bryant-Denny Stadium immediately after giddy Texas A&M left Saturday, and this bitterly disappointed Alabama team would still rout this downtrodden Auburn team and clinch the SEC West Division.
But the SEC mandated that all of its teams finish the regular season on the same weekend a few years back, and that moved the Iron Bowl back to Thanksgiving weekend. That also left a schedule hole where the Iron Bowl used to be, and that hole evolved into buy-a-win games.
It made sense in other years, but this year brings the nightmare scenario — a mere-formality Iron Bowl amid one school’s fall of discontentment and maneuverings to replace its coach and the other school’s week of discontentment after a potentially season-wrecking loss.
Alabama badly needs to get over that 29-24 loss to Texas A&M, a loss which forced the previously unbeaten Tide into needing other teams to lose for Alabama to regain a shot for its third national title in four years.
Alabama’s coach, who preaches his “process” religion ad nauseum, badly wants his team to steal a Barack Obama campaign slogan — forward. As he does every week but especially after hard-to-get-over games, he wants his team to focus on improving.
Saban always sweats the external world not being on page with that, and the last thing he wants are fans and media dwelling ad nauseum on why Alabama didn’t run the ball more against Texas A&M, especially when the Tide was in position to score the winning touchdown.
He doesn’t want everyone dwelling on how poorly the secondary has played in back-to-back games, a near-loss to LSU and the loss to Texas A&M.
He doesn’t want more talk about how Kevin Sumlin outcoached him, or more talk about quarterback A.J. McCarron’s struggles at LSU and interceptions against Texas A&M.
Saban being Saban, he wants everyone to move on, and good luck with that. No one wants to talk about this week’s opponent.
It’s another week to wallow, followed by an Iron Bowl lacking in its usual power focus the mind.
Then comes Georgia in the SEC Championship, and two weeks of wallowing and piddling can cost the Tide its last hopes for another national-title shot.
Indeed, weeks like this stink — this year more than ever.
Sports Columnist Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter @jmedley_star.