HOOVER, Ala. — Nick Saban just did his turn at the podium and opened by stating he was happy to get back from vacation and be able to spend time with 1,200 of his closest friends. That would be us. And that would be Saban’s opening joke.
As for the meat of his question-and-answer session, the Alabama coach was asked if he should now be compared to Bear Bryant considering that the Tide has won consecutive national titles and three of last four BCS championships.
Saban said absolutely not.
– Saban also needled the media in regards to predictions. In the last 21 seasons, according to Saban, the media has picked the SEC champ just four times. “If as a coach I had a 4-17 record, I’d be back in West Virginia pumping gas,” Saban said.
– Saban said that “it’s a challenge every year to re-invent your team.”
– Alabama does open with Virginia Tech — “which has been a 10-team win team almost every year,” Saban said — then a road game at Texas A&M, the one team that beat last year’s Alabama team.
– Saban was asked about the no-huddle offense and his previously voiced concerns about player’s safety. Saban didn’t really go back into his appeal and said he didn’t think the rules would change in that regard. He’s not a fan of the uptempo attacks.
“Should we allow football to be a continous game? Is that the way the game was designed to play?” he said is one issue. The other is the “increased number of plays that players play in the game are there any safety issues in that.”
– As for the Bryant comparisons, Saban said there was no comparison because Bryant did it over a longer period of time in so many different ways. And also Bryant should be measured not by titles but the affect he had on his players.
“Bear Bryant is probably the greatest coach ever in college football,” Saban said. “The biggest thing is his impact (on) many players (in) positive ways. They all come back and say how he affected their life”
And this: “There’s no way that we’ve done anything close to what he’s done his consistency over time.”
– Saban was asked if he understood Les Miles’ scheduling concerns. LSU plays Florida and Georgia this year from the SEC East, while Alabama plays Kentucky and Tennessee. Miles wants an “equal path” to the championship.
“There can never e an equal path to the championship,” Saban said. “Unless everybody plays everybody there can’t be an equal path to the championship.”
Saban repeated that he is in favor of nine conference games and he wants his players to be able to play every other team in the league. He also said he understood the importance of rivalries to the fan base. And he has been in Miles’ shoes.
“I coached at LSU,” Saban said. “We played Florida every year, so if anybody understands it, I understand it.”
– When asked about Aaron Hernandez and being responsible for players, Saban said, “We can be the moral compass for our young people but we cannot always be there to drive the ship.”