Nick Saban at the print media podium:
- The room is packed with about 300 people for Saban, largest crowd so far.
- You will not listen to Saban speak for long without hearing the word “process” … as in the necessity of following a “process” in preparing to win. It is a common theme for the Bama head coach.
- This is not news to Tide fans, but the development of the offensive line will be critical for this team. Saban links the play of new QB Greg McElroy to the play of the line.
- For the 2nd consecutive season, Bama opens the season at the Georgia Dome against a highly touted team (this time Virginia Tech). Last season’s thumping of Clemson kick-started an undefeated regular season run for the Tide. Saban saw two benefits from such an opener … first, it helped the team prepare over the summer because the first game was so significant … next, winning a big-time game in such an atmosphere gave the 08 team confidence for the rest of the slate.
- The depth of the SEC West will be interesting to follow. Alabama, Ole Miss, and LSU are all picked by various prognosticators, but Arkansas is expected to be improved (and was pretty good by the end of 2008). Auburn and Miss State also should not just be dismissed … Auburn is not so far removed from being a top-tier division team and Miss State was a bowl winner just a couple years ago.
- A recurring question asked of every coach so far concerns the all-conference quarterback. One coach did not vote for Tim Tebow as the preseason all-SEC QB, and the media are determined to find out who it was. All coaches so far have laughed the question off (after acknowledging they voted for Tebow), although Saban expounded on the right coaches have to cast votes how they see fit (his comment that people have fought and died for that right … or something to that effect … was overstated but his overall point was valid).
- Saban’s only prickly moment (not angry but more animated than the rest of the time) came when a media person asked about the number of players who have left the Bama program or are planning to leave. The coach commented on how demanding the program is … not football so much as personal development requirements … a good, solid explanation.
- From an all-around perspective, Saban is perhaps the most impressive of the SEC coaches … dress, demeanor, attitude, confidence, speaking abilities … (and that would put him at the head of an impressive group). You can tell he is a big-time college football coach.