LSU vs Alabama. No. 2 vs. No. 4 in the College Football Playoff Rankings. It’s here. And the weekend would not be complete without the fourth annual Les Miles vs. Nick Saban bass fishing tournament, covered exclusively here on lakedarbonnelife.com. Home team Bama chose nearby Lake Tuscaloosa, a fishery Saban says is as stingy with it’s bass as his Bama defense is with points.
The boats are in the water after a 2 to 6 p.m. live on-site Paul Finebaum Show on the SEC network. This year it’s a night tournament (thanks to CBS, which checked the Solunar Tables and found this to be prime time). As usual, Saban starts off in a bad mood. “How are we going to get enough light on the boat for everybody to see the Coca-Cola bottle that I have to keep on the front deck?” Relax coach, you are in the spotlight.
Coach Miles’ fishing partner choice was simple. “I never go anywhere without No. 7”, he says. “Give him a football jig and he’ll bring points to the livewell.”
Saban picked unknown freshman OT Nolan Boatner over QB Jake Corker. Saban says the name sounds at home on the lake and suggests Boatner won’t play Saturday, so he has time to fish instead of watching film like Corker has to. Corker…that has a fishing ring to it, too. Boatner also listens to Saban, like when they were shopping for tournament gear. “You going to pay $75 for that rod and reel and it will be out of style in a week? You going to fish with it maybe 2, 3 times tops?” Boatner agrees, saying he thinks Saban is right. “Yeah, I think maybe I am right,” Saban snaps back.
But now they wish they had better gear. LSU has jumped out to an early lead, with No. 7 putting FOUR in the NET already! Hey, look, even John Chavis has caught one on his cane pole sitting over there on the bank. Sorry Chief, but you aren’t in the big game anymore. Who invited him?
“What are they doing? What are they doing,” Saban screams at his boat paddler, Lane sKiffin. “Get me one of those baits. Now!”
Les just enjoys it all, snagging a small piece of aquatic vegetation and tucking it under his lower lip. “We’ll just mull around here a bit and catch a few more. It will be like getting the monkey off our back.”
SKiffin tells Saban LSU appears to be fishing with monster sized purple and gold spinnerbaits and they are fishing them fast and going deep. “We don’t have any of those, coach,” sKiffin says.
“Well look in those tackle boxes and get me something different!” Saban screams. “Uh oh, coach, I grabbed the wrong boxes,” sKiffin says. “These are just cigars left over from after the Tennessee game. We could rig up some hooks in them, but I don’t even think Bill Clinton would fish with these.”
Bama tries a new area and BOATner boats the Tide’s first fish. Alabama fans on the shore prematurely sing Dixieland Delight. But that is cut short when ESPN cameras catch a man who appears to know something about fish, since he is wearing a Dolphins cap, yelling “You can’t win!” About that time, sKiffin paddles furiously away from the spot. “I think I saw some Ole Black Bears through the Mist on the bank, coach. You know I don’t do well around Black Bears,” sKiffin moans.
Meanwhile, Miles and No. 7 reel in their fourth fish. Saban finally catches a couple and at halftime, it’s 6-3, LSU. Miles gives away no strategy or important information in his halftime interview.
“I had a bird try to get my bait one time,” Miles jokes. “It was a yellow hammer rammer jammer, I think. That goofy bird missed wide right. Hey, this is a great venue. You know, it was on this very day in 1874 when cartoonist Thomas Nast first used the elephant as a symbol for the Republican Party. I am a Republican, but I don’t like elephants.”
Surprise halftime entertainment is provided by Auburn superfan, Tammy, who chases Finebaum around the shallows while flailing her arms and splashing water and saying her husband won’t get to sleep the house until her beloved Auburn gets in this fishing game.
Saban is furious again. “She probably scared off all the fish in the lake. How can we come back. That isn’t fair. if we lose, I want a rematch until we can win.” Saban kicks the Coke bottle at a tree stump. It sails short and wide left. Almost immediately, a little red kayak with a member of the Bama Booster Club paddles out with another one.
Saban was right. Tammy did scare off all the fish. The second half fishing is tough. With just a minute to go, Boatner has a huge fish on, but it rolls on the top of the water, turns over and throws the hook. “No turnovers”, Screams Saban as he tries to call time out, but sKiffin stops him. Saban’s livid.
Miles and No. 7 enjoy their four-fish lead lead by taking a minute to snack on a snickerdoodle cookie and drink a Pepsi. “This boat understands that they have to earn it,” Miles says. “This cola tastes better in a blue bottle. I don’t like red bottles”.
Then it gets worse for Bama. LSU’s No. 7 makes a power cast right in the middle over Alabama’s Lake and Reed and catches another one. The clock runs out. And even though he isn’t here, somewhere Jim Hawthorne is telling the LSU faithful, “Tigers win! Tigers win! Oh my goodness. Tigers win!”
Saban is forced to greet the SEC outdoor press at the dock with a scowl and (after picking up another Red cola bottle) issues a quick statement. “It really doesn’t matter what you think. Awwright. Nobody on our team is fishing for you. Awwright. You had us catching them six feet under, but we couldn’t catch them anywhere. Awwright. I want this lake drained. Awwright.”
Miles’ then takes his turn.
“Look, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Seven is better than three, you know. Seven is better than three. Have a great day! See ya!”
If you’d like to see previous fishing battles from 2102, 2013 & 2014, check out: