It hasn’t been easy being a Dolphins fan the last decade or so.Let’s do a quick recap. Since 1997 Miami fans have had to watch:A) Dan Marino wind down his career with Oronde Gadsden (or maybe O.J. McDuffie) as his best playmaker.B) No. 13’s last game, an agonizing 62-7 dismemberment at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars.C) A parade of Marino “replacements,” suffering through the likes of Jay Fiedler, A.J. Feeley, Sage Rosenfels, Ray Lucas and Cleo Lemon.And finally,D) That group of Interceptions Anonymous members leading Miami to five straight years out of the playoffs, making Dol-fans want to make like ostriches and bury their heads in the sand.It’s been a rough decade. Ricky Williams’ choosing a $7-a-day tent in Australia over the ‘Phins was pretty indicative of how this once-proud franchise is now floundering. The team has gone from being super-hero porpoise Flipper to the Mahi-Mahi half of a surf and turf.But now the Dolphins have really hit rock bottom — or floated up to the top, as it were.After two mediocre seasons, the savior in a straw hat, Nick Saban, lied to the world and left South Beach for — brace yourself — Tuscaloosa, Ala. to return to college coaching. Not only did Saban thrust Miami back into another rebuilding phase, he has left the team in worse shape than he found it. He has also all but assured that the talents and careers of Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas will be totally wasted, just like Marino’s.Muchachos and chiquitas in Miami are referring to the coach as Nick Satan. Is it just simple wordplay, or are the SoFla beach bums onto something? Let’s break it down.The name gameThe Dark Lord goes by many names, such as Satan, the devil, Lucifer, the Little Horn, Most Unclean, Belial, the Morning Star and even occasionally (though incorrectly) Beelzebub.Nick Saban? He might even have more titles than the not-so-jolly red giant downstairs. He has been head coach of (fill in the name of the highest bidder), since he was first hired at Toledo, where he stayed all of one season. In his 33-year coaching career, he has held 14 different jobs, including six different coaching jobs since 1990, averaging less than three years at any stop. Door-to-door blender salesmen have more stability than that.The devil is often described as a shape shifter; the same could be said of Saban. If you were to look at Saban every couple of years he would never appear to be the same way, wearing different team colors at each glance. Still, it’s hard to call Saban a traitor, since he really hasn’t ever had any allegiance anyway.Flaming trousersWe’ve all heard that old children’s tease, “Liar, liar, pants on fire.” Hell’s overseer certainly is proof of that. One of his many names is, not coincidentally, “Liar” (John 8:33, if you think my pants are aflame), and he resides in an abode that’s chief structural component is fire. So, if he’s still wearing pants, board shorts, capris or even boxers, they are most certainly burning at this moment.But the point is that Satan lies. A lot. It’s basically his most distinguishing characteristic, you know, after his horns, red skin and giant pitchfork.Saban is a liar. On Dec. 21, he blatantly gave the most false statement since Clinton’s Monica Lewinsky denial or Subway’s assertion that they are “the healthy choice.”“I guess I have to say it: I’m not going to be the Alabama coach,” Saban said, impressively without the slightest hint of a lisp, despite his forked tongue.GreedEl Diablo makes his living off of thriving on the seven deadly sins, one of which is greed. To say Saban is greedy is like saying Patrick Stewart’s hair is thinning. The guy left a job that was paying him more than $4 million a year and for what? Mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money.With LSU he signed a contract that guaranteed he would always be the highest paid college coach. That in itself is unbelievably greedy. He then jumped to the NFL as soon as the Dolphins threw more greenbacks at him.In fact, if the price were right, Saban would surely bolt to the Oakland Raiders, Harlem Globetrotters or New York Yankees (I hear they want him to pitch).Home, Sweet HomeThe Notorious S-A-T (to the A-N) lives in hell. Obviously it isn’t the best of places to reside in.According to Statemaster.com, Alabama is the 11th worst state to live in. Now while that isn’t exactly a paradise, it would appear to be slightly above hell. Sixth worst would make sense, as six is traditionally the devil’s numeral of choice. However, you have to read between the lines.Some recent players who have worn No. 11 are Isaiah Thomas and Daunte Culpepper, two individuals currently in the process of ruining their respective franchises, a very evil thing.Eleven is also a prime number and thus indivisible into an integer, which makes it an individual and not a team player. In sports, you better be a team player, otherwise you are evil — like T.O., Barry Bonds and Dale Earnhardt Jr.While I admit this logic is a little bit of a stretch, I think it’s fair to say no one you know wants to live in Alabama, not even if they will have the most tricked out double-wide on the block, like Saban will. It’s close enough to hell on earth.The fact is Saban also makes babies cry (Manny Wright), is often beet red (and I don’t think it’s the tropical sun) and is always wearing a hat (obviously to cover up his horns). He’ll also be sporting some pretty fiery crimson this year at ‘Bama. His pitchfork is a whistle and his tail was surgically removed, so that he could be more comfortable sitting down for job interviews (which he constantly is).But you know why Saban has to be a demon in coach’s clothing? Because anyone who saw “Little Nicky” knows the Dark Lord is, in fact, a Jets fan. And no one but a Jets fan could be this evil.Dave McGrath is a senior majoring in English and journalism. If you have any tips to help him learn black magic to place a curse on Saban, you can reach him at email@example.com
There’s no doubt in anyone’s head who the go-to man for the Wisconsin football team is. No Badger fan would particularly want to daydream about what this UW team might be like without Montee Ball.But running back is a funny position. When a team’s – or, more specifically, an offense’s – go-to man is a quarterback, wide receiver or tight end, the objective is always to give that player the ball as many times as possible so he can be a playmaker as often as possible. The idea of “moderation” rarely applies to them.And that’s where those skill positions differ from running backs, who are routinely described as workhorses for a few good reasons. They’re counted on to punch through the trenches and to cruise in fifth-gear on every play despite the beating they take.They need doses of moderation.Last Saturday, Ball took the feed 32 times in a season opener against an FCS school, in what is hoped to be a 14-game season. That’s folly.Sure, that game became disturbingly close out of nowhere in the fourth quarter. And sure, it’d be harder to explain a loss to Northern Iowa than Nebraska or Michigan State to those who wield a vote in the national rankings.But when Ball is earning 3.8 yards per carry and the sure-as-hell capable James White is averaging 5.2 (and getting only nine cracks at the ball), Ball doesn’t need 32 carries. Not in the season opener. Not against an FCS school.Only one game has passed, so the message is only cautionary at this point: Just don’t be afraid to give White the ball (or even the yet-to-be-revealed, star-of-tomorrow Melvin Gordon, an able-bodied redshirt freshman).It would probably be easy for UW to overcommit on Ball. The offense features a sizable amount of new personnel and debuting with 26 points versus a lower-echelon school only keeps the question marks hanging around. And, after all, Ball’s already been named a Heisman finalist once in his career, it would be tough not to instinctively give a guy like that the rock when the game’s still in reach (be it by 19 points or five).But you know what? Ball didn’t produce a Heisman Trophy-worthy season by taking 32 carries a game. He did it with 21.9 on average.There are probably two reasons – other than Ball’s own athleticism – that allowed him to be so damn efficient. One is the passing game was nearly as good, which prevented defenses from a narrow focus on Ball.Another is that his relatively low amount of carries probably didn’t wear on him all that much down the stretch, which is when he was at his best. He gained 1,070 of his 1,923 yards in the final six games and never averaged fewer than 5.1 yards per carry.Ball didn’t see any contact drills between January’s Rose Bowl and Saturday’s season opener, so it’s understandable if he was a little rusty. But simply put, White moved the ball more efficiently – and did it with verve. When that happens, Matt Canada and Bret Bielema need to spare Ball a handful of carries if they want to keep him fresh and running like an All-American or Heisman type of player again.It’s better both in the long run and short run.Take Alabama, for example, who had a stacked backfield with Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson in 2009. Ingram had 271 carries that year, never taking more than 28 a game (he averaged 19.3), and won the Heisman. Alabama won five contests by 14 points or less that year and still never poured the weight of the game on its go-to man.Meanwhile, Richardson was there to take 145 carries off Ingram’s hands and was productive while he did it.Ingram finished that year stronger than how he began it, which makes me wonder how that Heisman hype for Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell will go if he keeps taking 50 handoffs a game.So if Ball gets 32 carries against an FCS school flirting with a win, does that mean Ball will get closer to 40 if Ohio State, Michigan State or Nebraska start acting out? There are just more creative ways to answer a challenge like the one given Saturday, especially when dealing with someone who’s going to take a couple hundred hits as the season wears on.If Wisconsin wants or needs to run more than it did last year, or if Ball isn’t behaving like a superhero Harry Houdini in a given game, then it should be White who gets first dibs on the extra carries.That way, Ball can still be rolling in November, December – and perhaps even on January 1, again.Elliot is a fifth-year senior majoring in journalism and philosophy. What are the chances UW will wear out Ball? How many carries should White get? Let him know via Twitter (@elliothughes12) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).