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Saban At The Podium

Here’s a rundown of Alabama coach Nick Saban’s comments:

* Saban joked that he and Steve Spurrier would like some sort of award for making it to 10+ SEC Media Days.

* Saban made a thanks to people who have tried to help rebuild Tuscaloosa post-tornado — including Kenny Chesney and Taylor Swift.

* Saban’s monotone voice at 9:30 in the morning is putting me to sleep. 

* Saban pointed out that his team lost four first-round draft picks and its starting quarterback.

* Saban says his team’s focus is on cleaning up mental errors and improving the fundamentals.

* Saban says football has “cycled back” to more 3-4 than 4-3 defense.  “We actually played 3-4 last year about 20% of the time.  And that’s dictated and determined by the offense that we play.  Because when we play nickel and dime, we’re playing more 40 type defense.”

* Asked about the passion of the Iron Bowl rivalry, Saban said: “I think we have two great institutions and I think we have a lot of wonderful people who support those institutions in a very positive way.  I think our state is very, very important and I think the respect we have for each other is very, very important and in no way should affect the competitive rivalry that we have with each other.  But I also think some of the things that have been negatives are not really good.  And I think there’s just a small number of people who probably, you know, create this on both sides.  So this is not a criticism of one or the other.  And I would like to see fans show class in terms of how we represent our institution and our state and our athletic programs.  And that would be really, really appreciated.”

* Asked about Mike Slive’s idea of multi-year scholarships, Saban said he would like to discuss these issues.  “I don’t fully understand the purpose of some of these things and some of these things we’ve never discussed.”

* Saban said there are a lot of good things in college football and then smacked the idea with a pretty broad statement — “I know there’s nobody in this room interested in writing about positives.”  He then went on to give a passionate story about a player who didn’t have a high GPA in high school, but graduated from college thanks to football and is now a success.  In other words: “Why raise the GPA standards?”

* Asked about the SEC’s success, Slive said it speaks to the quality of the SEC’s national marketing.  “I kind of feel like we’re the national league of college football.  And I think that’s largely what our conference has done, what Mike Slive has done in terms of the TV that we have and things like that.”  Saban also praised the quality of the programs and coaches in the league as well as the quality of players in the Southeast that are available to recruit.

* Asked about an Alabama fan in the lobby who was wearing an “I Hate Auburn” t-shirt, Saban said: “I would tell him that it’s not personal.  That it really isn’t personal.  And that is not really the way we should respect the opponents that we have.”  He added, “I think we can all be a little more respectful to each other and still have just as fierce competition on the field as we’ve ever had and everybody can be very prideful in whatever their accomplishments are. … This kind of behavior sort of develops more of that kind of behavior.  And I don’t think that’s a good thing.”  Good answers.

* Saban said Trent Richardson “probably played his best football of the season when he was in the A-back role” when Mark Ingram was out last season.  The coach said he’s still not likely to hand any back 30 times a game.

* On being picked #1 in the West by the media, Saban said: “You all are a lot smarter than we are as coaches, ’cause I could never pick who’s gonna win the SEC. … From a logical standpoint, I know there’s a couple other teams in our division — forget the league — that have just as many returners starting and their quarterback.  So even though I have a tremendous amount of respect for the intelligence level and your ability to prognosticate — which we really can’t do, I’m not capable of doing — I don’t understand how you come to the decisions that you come to.”

* Saban said: “We have question marks on our team.”

* Saban said linebacker Dont’a Hightower has his “explosive quickness back.”

* Saban said Alabama’s quarterback battle “doesn’t stand anywhere.  It stands like it stands.”  Insightful.  He also said there’s nothing wrong with being a “game manager.”  He feels that’s just part of the job.

* Asked if Slive acts as a dictator, Saban smiled and said: “No, not at all.”  He also said, “I think Commissioner Slive does a really, really good job in our league.  And I think he’s got some wonderful ideas and has had some tremendous input in the direction of college football.  I also thinks that he listens to the input that we have as coaches and carries that to our administrators so that we are represented. … And I think that any intention that he has of anything that he does is for the betterment of our league and of college football.”

* Saban took some good natured shots at Glenn Guilbeau of Gannett Louisiana.

* Saban is an incredibly sharp guy.  If he’d let his guard down a bit more, he’d probably have a much better reputation in terms of his personality.  But he keeps a wall up that he really takes down.



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