We start the day with the man expected to lead his team to another BCS Championship this year. But if someone brings up the word “defend” in reference to last year’s title, expect the obligatory, “We’re not defending anything, this is a new year” from Alabama’s Nick Saban.
Here we go…
* Saban opens by thanking the media — you read that right — for bringing exposure to college football and positive light to a lot of student-athletes. Who reprogrammed Saban?
* Saban says excellence should be defined as “consistency in performance.” He also said that it’s human nature to relax when you’ve had success.
* “High achievers don’t like mediocre people. And mediocre people don’t like high achievers. So everybody has to buy in” in order for a team to have success.
* Saban says this year’s team is different from the previous two. He also points out that he’s lost 13 starters from last season.
* Pretty dry, but that’s standard for Saban.
* Saban says he wants to find out how his young players will take advantage of their opportunity to make this year’s Bama team “their team.”
* Bama fan/media guy just used the “We” word. Ugh.
* The coach said he thinks Gary Pinkel is a fantastic coach. Saban got off a good joke saying that he knows Pinkel said during his session that he’s younger than Saban. He then said there are older guys in the SEC — like Steve Spurrier — that he looks up to. (Laughs.) He said he was thinking of wearing a visor to Media Days but he was afraid he’d throw it. Back to Missouri, he said he thinks the Tigers will do well in the SEC.
* Saban said he hasn’t given much thought to how the league will look in 10 years. Obviously didn’t like the questions, but he answered it by praising Mike Slive. Praises the league for being “at the forefront from a leadership standpoint.”
* Asked about new rules, Saban said the #1 thing should always be player safety. “I think there’s some facts out there that support there are more injuries on kickoffs and kickoff returns than we like.” Didn’t seem to have a problem with moving kickoffs up and cutting down on returns if it helps protect players.
* Interestingly, asked about the Penn State situation, Saban said he didn’t have any feelings — but before he could finish, media members laughed at that statement — about the Penn State deal. Odd moment.
* Saban says all his injured players would be ready to go if practice started today.
* Saban says he is indeed in favor of a nine-game SEC schedule because it would allow players to face every other SEC school. He took a dig at people looking selfishly trying to maintain bowl eligibility.
* Asked about the perception that Saban and Alabama are the new Joe Paterno and Penn State, the coach said it’s not true. When people err, the administration handles it and he doesn’t make decisions alone.
* Saban was asked if ex-assistants like Derek Dooley and Will Muschamp still seek advice from him. He said he’s “always willing to be as helpful as I possibly can.” He said he likes all his ex-staff members and that he wants to help them, if/when they ask for help.
* “I think Derek Dooley’s done a really good job” after inheriting a difficult situation. Saban said “he had a stroke of bad luck last year when he lost a very good quarterback and a very good receiver.”
* Saban said he analyzed the things from the first LSU game that they didn’t do well or weren’t ready for and then did them better in the BCS title game last year. He credited AJ McCarron and his defense’s execution as being “the difference” between the two games.
* Saban, naturally, says he thinks fans want to see the four best teams in the country in a playoff… not just conference champions.
Our overall grade for Saban’s “performance” based on comfort, friendliness, openness… we’ll give him a 4. The guy just doesn’t come across as a warm, fuzzy fella. As we’ve said many times, this has nothing to do with winning football games, but if we’re going to sit through these things, we’re going to tell you how entertaining, interesting they are.