Listening to Nick Saban speak on Thursday at SEC Media Days, you’d swear that Alabama finished 4-8 last season. From the tone you would never think that the Crimson Tide were a juggernaut rolling over opponents, literally one second away from another trip to Atlanta (and possibly Pasadena).
In his press conference, Saban talked a lot about family, the team’s renewed focus, and positive changes made within the program. Below are some snippets from his time at the podium.
On his place on the family totem:
We had a lot of excitement in our family with a new grandbaby, my daughter getting engaged. With the addition of these folks in our family, I just seem to continue right on down the totem pole.
I’ve always been behind the two dogs, but the line is getting deeper and deeper when it comes to Miss Terry.
On the team’s mindset entering this season:
Having lost our last two games last year, I think it’s a little bit different mindset with our players.
We have to reestablish our identity as a team at Alabama. It’s going to take every player to have a tremendous amount of buy‑in for us to be able to do that.
I think you basically need to check your ego at the door, all of us in our organizations: players, coaches, everybody in our organization. You know, really trust and believe in the things that have helped us be successful. Have enough humility to understand our role …
On Lane Kiffin:
The players have responded to him very well. New energy, new enthusiasm, new ideas to do some things offensively that would enhance our chances of being successful. I’m really excited to have the opportunity to work with him.
I think all of us would be remiss, I was a head coach once and went back and worked as an assistant, and that’s a difficult transition for anybody. I think Lane has certainly handled that very, very well.
On maturity levels in college students:
I think there’s a greater disparity in the behavioral culture of our young people now when they come to college, some people refer to it as maturity, than maybe there ever has been in the past. And we keep growing a little bit further and further apart with the older guys on our team versus the younger guys on our team.
On the decision to kick a player off the team:
I want you to know that there’s not one player, not one player, since I’ve been a head coach that I kicked off the team that ever went anywhere and amounted to anything and accomplished anything, playing or academically.
On the difference between discipline and punishment:
Discipline is not punishment. Punishment is only effective when it can help change somebody’s behavior.
Now, when somebody proves they can’t be part of an organization, then sometimes you got to get the wrong people off the bus …. But I just want you all to know that we all have to be committed to trying to help our young people from a culture standpoint have a better chance to be successful in their life. That’s something that we’re very much committed to and really is the reason that we coach ’cause that’s the part that I like the best. It gives me the most positive self‑gratification to see somebody have a chance to be successful.
On the value of an experienced staff:
The more experience that your staff has, obviously I think the better they understand the big picture and have the kind of foresight that you need to have that you know when you make changes, what the cause and effect of those changes are going to be.
On what makes a good quarterback:
Decision making and judgment is a critical factor, accuracy with the ball is a critical factor, and leadership is a critical factor.
On the new College Football Playoff:
You know, I’m hopeful that when we choose the teams that are in the Playoff, that we take the 13 years of experience that the BCS had in tweaking their system of picking teams so that they get the right four teams in the game.
But I do think from a fan standpoint, this is going to be something that a lot of people have looked forward to. It will be good for college football and it’s good for the game.
On the (never-ending) Texas speculations:
So I’m very happy at Alabama. Miss Terry is very happy at Alabama. We certainly enjoy the challenges that we have there, the friends that we have established here. This is where we just choose to, you know, end our career someday.
It wasn’t anything about any other place, it was just about where we are and what we want to try to do with the rest of our career.
An obligatory jab at the media:
I know you all pick a winner in the conference every year. I’m not saying who you picked this year. But last year you’d actually been wrong, you know, like 17 out of 21 times. Now you’re wrong 18 out of 22. But you’ve also not picked the right team the last five years in a row.
Every year that we’ve been fortunate enough to win the championship, you picked somebody else to win it. So just to let you know that we’re evaluating you.
And on life as a grandfather:
Life with the grandbaby is great. It’s a great experience. I hope it’s one that many of you have the opportunity to have someday in your future.
I’ve only made a few mistakes in terms of being a grandfather to this point. That’s after so many times of as soon as the baby makes a peep, seeing somebody run to pick her up, you say, She’ll be fine, just let her cry. That was a mistake now (smiling). That was a huge mistake.
But, you know, my only concern so far with the grandbaby is when she does go to kindergarten, if she walks in and doesn’t get a standing ovation, how is she going to respond to that, because she gets a lot of attention at our house, and I think that’s a good thing.