It’s time for the third annual Les Miles vs. Nick Saban fishing derby, sponsored by lakedarbonnelife.com
Alabama vs. LSU. It’s intense, even in fishing. Fishing is supposed to be fun, but as Nick Saban throws a rod out into the lake, it’s obvious his contractual obligation to fish isn’t sitting well. “I don’t have time to go fishing,” he snarled from his crimson bass boat while waiting for the Tide to come in. “I don’t like bass. I don’t like Dolphins.” Next to him in the Louisiana marsh, Les Miles has a smirk on his face remembering the Landsharks he recently boated. “I’m ready. Let’s go fish for victory and kick Bama’s bass,” he said.
Before the event could start, the ref threw a flag. Saban had three people in his boat. “It’s just Kiffin. He’s here to hand me baits,” Saban explained. Only Saban and player partner Amari Cooper (who reportedly can catch anything) could fish, but Kiffin was allowed to stay. It was an obvious violation of the rule’s intent, but Nick has to get his way a certain number of times in any competition.
“Go Fish!”, the ref said. Miles and his secret weapon partner, tight end Logan Stokes, began casting right up the middle of a big grass bed. “He’s going to catch a dozen this time,” Miles says of Stokes. Saban, on the other hand, is livid again, as he has to head back to the dock for the shiny unopened Coca Cola bottle he is contractually required to keep in front of him in public appearances.
“Say, coach, I saw the ad that said ‘Share a Coke with Nick’, but you never bring anybody else one. What’s up with that,” Stokes yells in a bit of trash fish talk. Saban won’t bite. Stokes then made his second big catch of recent days, landing a six pounder. LSU up 6-0. Kiffin strained to see what he caught the fish on.
“It’s a six-inch Dr. Pepper 10 colored plastic worm with a purple and gold slip sinker,” Les says. “You probably don’t have one of those.”
Kiffin was handing bait to Saban faster than he could fish with it. “We’ve gotta speed it up, speed it up,” Kiffin insisted. About that time Saban rushed and got a hook in his finger. “See, I told you the hurry up was dangerous,” Nick screamed, throwing yet another rod in the lake and knocking a couple of hairs out of place.
Saban then got a backlash when his lure hit Kiffin in the back of the head. Saban glared and Kiffin moved away cautiously. Cooper got a bite, but just as the fish got to the boat, it glanced off his hands and back in the water. Ole Miss was right: He doesn’t catch everything!
“That counts. That counts. It hit the boat!”, Saban yelled. No coach, this isn’t horseshoes. Things were quiet for a few minutes when the microphones picked up Saban asking Kiffin if there was any way to watch game film on those depth finder things. Then Miles drove the Tigers fishing team down the field of aquatic grass, stopping to take a bite himself, and landed a three, giving the Tigers a 9-0 lead. A good lead, except that under new rules it isn’t just the most pounds of fish that wins, but the winner is selected by an unbiased, five-person committee that reportedly once watched a fishing show.
The LSU crowd started to come into play. They were in boats, standing in the shallows in waders and screaming as they lined up and down the bank. On a distant dock, the LSU band was playing the Tiger fight song.
Cooper came through, his rod bowed and line zinged off his reel and Saban netted a six. “It’s beautiful. It’s even red,” Saban said. But wait. Another flag. Upon further review, the fish is disqualified. It’s a redfish, coach. This is a bass tournament. Time was running out on the Bama boys. Saban called for more bait, but when Kiffin opened the other tackle box, he jumped back. LSU fans had swiped the tackle box and filled it full of corn dogs.
Nick hadn’t felt that kind of frustration since he tried to find a bathroom in his new 60-room, $5 million, 10,000 square foot home gifted to him by the Alabama Football Foundation for winning a title some time back. Meanwhile, Miles and Stokes chomped away at boudin and crackers and counted down the final seconds. Miles lined up the remaining sausages close together and surrounded them with crackers.
“Victory formation.” The smirk grew. Saban stewed and told Kiffin to paddle them back to shore. Cooper had quit fishing minutes before and was on his phone texting potential NFL agents.
Back on shore, nothing was certain even though LSU had nine pounds, Bama none. Committee Chairman Bill Dance (wearing his Tennessee cap and keeping a very wary eye on Kiffin) announced LSU had indeed won by a 3-2 secret ballot vote from Dance, Olivia Manning, Danny Glover, Paul Finebaum and Greg McElroy.
“One thing about Tiger fishermen. If you put them in the boat, give us a little time to fix things, we are going to be very special,” Miles said. “This team wanted to make this fishing trip special and they did. A win over a quality opponent,” apparently talking about the elusive bass.
LSU fans stormed the water in celebration. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries agents assured LSU there would be no $5,000 fine. This is, after all, America, and it’s okay to have fun. LSU freshman running back Leonard Fournette was one of the fans watching. He made sure Saban didn’t go home empty handed. “Want my Coke? Really, you can have it,”
Saban turned, took the Coke and guzzled it down. As he walked away, he said, “Hey kid, catch,” Saban threw in his fishing/crying towel. “Bring another one to Tiger Stadium Saturday night coach. You’re gonna need it,” Fournette said.