In hindsight, this entire week was just one really slow buildup until Nick Saban showed up in Hoover, Alabama. And his players, his players also showed up. Yeah, the media was excited about those guys as well. Everyone kept telling us to expect the crazy this morning, and boy were they right. But they were wrong at the same time. The Alabama fans packed into the lobby of the hotel this morning to catch a passing glimpse of the religious leader of the small cult. Sure the fans are a little weird, but it's the SEC. We all are. They may be weird, but they were very calm and respectful in the lobby. Then, Coach Saban arrived, and the real crazy reared its head. It was the media. It was like the YouTube clips you've seen of the crowd scrambling from the bull that jumped into the stands. They are so desperate to get a 3-5 second clip of Coach Saban walking that they just hold their cameras as high as they can and start stepping all over each other. It was hilarious, and it was sad. These are the people that are always chiding the Alabama fanbase for acting like wild animals. While Coach Saban was doing a radio interview right next to the lobby, the fans fell completely silent to let their coach have his time. Meanwhile, cameramen started circling up and down on the escalators next to radio row trying to get an overhead shot of the interview...during the entire interview. You can be the judge of who's got a case of the crazies. Okay, that's enough of that. A little dose of reality was needed there.
Coach Saban was very sincere about his team coming off a two loss season. He talked about working with the team to have everyone check their egos at the door: the coaches, the players, and the staff. There was also a little soapbox moment that one has to think was related to the recent DUI arrest of Jarran Reed.
There’s a challenge in college football. It speaks to the culture of young people. There is a great disparity in the behavioral culture of our young people when they come to college, maybe than there ever has been in the past. My point is, we need to help this process. It takes a while to develop this process, and ya know what, it’s developed off the field.
Saban was addressing the what-will-now-be a debate on if players should be dismissed from the team based on their behavior. The great thing was that he made sure to let everyone in the room know that we shared responsibility for it. His demeanor and tone of course made the entire media collection instantly feel responsible for every player arrest this offseason. Remember when you stayed out past curfew as a teenager and your parents just nonchalantly nodded their heads while saying, "I'm not mad, I'm not upset, I'm just disappointed?" Well about 1,200 people felt that in the ballroom today. Coach Saban stated his very firm stance against dismissing players, and went as far as saying he's never had a dismissed player amount to anything on or off the field. This was interesting when you consider we heard from Mark Richt this morning, who has one of the more strict drug-policies in college football as far as coaches go.
Alabama is a team that consistently brings in some of the top talent in the nation, so players leaving early is naturally something they have to deal with one a yearly basis. Coach Saban hinted that teams are going to have to start placing a value on players potentially leaving for the NFL since the league is only going to let each team have 5 draft grade evaluations (Saban said they submitted 11 last year).
After the moderator closed down questions from the media, Coach Saban left the audience with a parting shot about their preseason votes.
Last year you’d been wrong like 17 out of 21 times. Now you’re wrong 18 out of 22. You’ve not picked the right team 5 years in a row. Every year you pick another team, we win the championship. Just to let you know...we’re evaluating you.