Nick Saban doesn’t like it when people say his current team is trying to “defend” its national title. We know this because he said the same thing in 2010 as his team tried to def — whoops — win another national crown after capturing the BCS trophy in 2009.
“There’s last year’s team and there’s this year’s team,” in Saban’s view, and never the two shall meet.
Well, Alabama’s coach isn’t a fan of preseason predictions/expections of any kind it seems. Fair enough. We think they’re kind of silly, too, though we all try to provide them. But Saban dislikes them so much that he rants and rails against them. Even before he being asked about them. Now that’s a pretty strong dislike.
According to Don Kausler of Al.com, Saban worked himself into a froth yesterday and lit into the idea that anyone has any notion of how the 2012 season will play out. Here’s how Kausler transcribed Saban’s opening statement (video can also be found via the link above). And remember, not a question had been asked by the media when the Tide coach let loose:
“N0w I know you guys are going to have all these comparison questions and where are you ranked, and how many games are you going to win, and what’s going to make the biggest impact on the team? You know, all these predictions that you all make. They hijack the game, because all anybody worries about in college football is the BCS. Who’s going to be in the final game? Well, we’ve got a lot of great games for our fans, for our players. Great competitive venues. Michigan game’s going to be a great game. Arkansas game. Tennessee game. LSU. Auburn. (Raising his voice.) I could go through every game on our schedule and say how exciting a game it’s going to be. And why do we play the games? To answer the questions.
I don’t even know for sure who our quarterback’s going to be the sixth game of the year. (Raising his voice again.) And nobody here can predict that. None of you can predict that. AJ (McCarron) is a good quarterback, but there could be circumstances that don’t allow him to play in a game, and you all want me to predict that. And then you go vote and have your polls and have all that, and then want me to respond to it. And also to individual players, that I can’t make predictions about either.
Our focus is developing a synergy on our team that is the goal of our team, to be relentless competitors, to be a team nobody really want to play, by the effort, the toughness, the ability to be relentless and sustain for 60 minutes in the game, every play in the game like it has a history and a life of its own. That’s why we have to condition and work, to get our players to buy in, believe in, have passion for, want to be, and all that. That’s what our focus is right now. That’s what we’re trying to do in camp.
With that, I guess you could ask me some of those questions…”
Three things stand out from all of that:
1. I assure you no one in that room was going to ask Saban to predict his team’s final record in 2012. Or who his starting quarterback would be in Game Six. Guaranteed. Oh, he might have been asked if the team’s preseason expectations are a nuisance… or how he thought Player X was coming along, but only the dumbest of the dumb would walk into press conference and ask a coach for a prediction on final records. Especially when that coach is a known prediction-hater like Saban.
2. By this point, it should be clear that Saban goes off in front of the press because he knows it will get back to his players. He wants his public statements — repeated on the web, on TV, on the radio — to reinforce what he tells them every single day in practice. Basically: Preseason predictions don’t mean a thing if you don’t play well.
3. The above unprovoked, preemptive harangue only serves to make Saban’s opening and closing lines in the writers’ room at SEC Media Days even more laughable. During that mid-July gathering, Bama’s coach thanked the assembled media for all that they do for college football. Uh, yeah, coach. Sure. It’s obvious just how appreciative you are.