The biggest name in SEC football took the stage for the conference’s annual media days Wednesday afternoon. “Last year’s team was like that, but they weren’t able to finish that way”. Saban cited “defensive identity” as his top concern. “Well, we give the ultimate level of access to the NFL”, Saban said Wednesday. But he noted that having rising sophomore Jalen Hurts returning under center is a big boost. I think he’s starting to mature and develop the confidence and understanding in the system to have a role and be a good player for us.
Despite losing key players on both side of the ball, Saban’s team is still loaded with talent and expected to contend for both an SEC Championship and a playoff spot.
“Hopefully, we won’t waste the failure”, he said. “So we’ve got to do a better job of handling things mentally”. Players follow the coach’s lead. And I think every team in this conference is trying to play catch-up in regards to that. That’s when the Crimson Tide lost the third game of the season to Ole Miss and then won 12 straight with an average victory margin of 18.5 points to capture Saban’s fifth national title (four at Alabama, one as LSU’s coach).
Nearly as amusing was Saban declaring “there’s a lot of parity in the league”.
I have a tremendous amount of respect for a lot of teams in our league.
“I’m really looking forward to that game”, he said.
Paraphrasing here: “To be honest, that was last year and two years ago”. I’m excited, the challenges he brings to the team. “And why not every year?” .
Saban, one of just 15 FBS coaches with at least a decade of experience at their current school, knows the best way to stick around a little longer.
But there’s reason to believe Missouri could be better this season. Three weeks later, Alabama heads to Jordan-Hare Stadium to take on Auburn on Saturday, Nov. 25.
Saban is at his best when teams try to beat him at his own game. And the head coach appears still driven by a need to fend off complacency, and keep his Alabama empire exactly where it is. And we learn about ourselves as we go through the years. Senior Shaun Dion Hamilton will coming off of a torn ACL that he suffered during the SEC Championship against Florida. It will be interesting to see whether Kentucky puts more of the offense in the hands of quarterback Stephen Johnson, who was quietly excellent down the stretch last season. Florida State claimed the title with a win over Auburn four years earlier.
The Big Ten finished with four teams ranked in the Top 10 in the final AP poll. Saban probably doesn’t really mind that, because in his mind, it’s about, you know, The Process, not so much the result.
“This is my 11th Media Days at Alabama, which I’m sure none of you thought would happen”, Saban tells a room of local television reporters. “I think it’s very challenging from a consistency standpoint in our league”. “With the Rebels” recruiting hamstrung in recent years by an NCAA case, the one team that had figured out how to compete with the Tide could be headed downhill.
I loved LSU. I loved Louisiana, I loved the people in Louisiana. I loved the people in Louisiana, but it was always in my mind that I was going to go be a head coach in the National Football League someday.
Much of the talk through three days of SEC Media Days has been about chasing Alabama.
Those two programs are the elite of that particular conference at the moment, and both share cultural and geographical similarities with programs in the SEC.