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BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME MEDIA CONFERENCE


December 4, 2011


Nick Saban


THE MODERATOR: Good evening. Thank you very much for taking the time to come on the call. This is the Allstate BCS National Championship teleconference.
We're going to start off with Coach Nick Saban from the University of Alabama. I'll ask Coach to make a brief opening statement.
COACH SABAN: Well, we are very, very excited as a team, as an organization, as a university, to be able to come to the Sugar Bowl. It's a great opportunity to play a great LSU team that's undefeated, that we had a great college football game with‑‑ maybe the greatest college football game of the season‑‑ earlier in the year.
And we have a tremendous amount of respect for them. I'm very, very pleased and happy for our team to get the opportunity to play in the BCS National Championship game again. And I really do think these are two great football teams and it will be a great football game.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?

Q. Some of the people that may have gotten hung up on the rematch aspect also got hung up on the score of the first game, 9‑6, obviously no touchdowns. Can you kind of speak to, first of all, why it played out that night? And why, in your experience, two teams who have played again several weeks or a couple months later, why the game might play out differently?
COACH SABAN: Well, you know, I think if you just look at NFL games, you play all the teams in your division twice. Nobody seems to think too much about those rematches.
You always play teams in the playoff that you played in the regular season. And sometimes the teams that play in the Super Bowl have played each other before and all those games play out differently.
Two great defensive teams, no doubt. But there was a lot of offensive production in the game. And people just weren't able to take advantage of the opportunities because of the good defense that was played. Great plays made on both sides on defense. This could be a totally different type of game.
And, you know, there's so many good players on both sides of the ball for both teams that I just think there's a lot of opportunity for the game to be completely different and have a completely different flavor than what the first game did.

Q. Nick, in this era of all these spread offenses and quarterback‑centric offenses, what do you make of two teams that run the ball and play physical and have defenses, run‑stopping defenses being in this game and being the two teams left?
COACH SABAN: I think it speaks a lot for whether we call it old‑fashioned football or whatever; that if you're big, if you're physical, you win on the line of scrimmage, even though both teams are capable of making explosive plays throwing the ball and you control the line of scrimmage on the defensive side of it, that you've got a really good opportunity to win.
And I think these two teams that are in this game this year kind of proved that in terms of the style and nature of play. And I think when you can do those things, you can play‑‑ you have a better chance to play more consistently by having good defense and being able to have balance on offense, and offensive system that allows you to do that.
So maybe that's why these teams could play with a little bit more consistency.

Q. Can you go over what your practice plan is and how you plan to prepare for this with the long layoff?
COACH SABAN: Our players have been working out. We won't start practicing probably until December19th or 20th. And probably practice four or five practices before Christmas.
Give the players a few days off, and come back and practice another four or five practices after Christmas. And then get into a regular work week for the game itself, even though we may not be able to travel to the game until January4th, which would sort of end the work week. We'll just go ahead and do it in Tuscaloosa and use our facilities. But that's our plan so far.

Q. Where did you find out the news that your team had been selected and how did you break that to the team? And also what was your thought last night? Did you have trouble sleeping? Did you anticipate you would still be selected? Kind of take us through your thoughts after watching that Oklahoma State/Oklahoma game last night?
COACH SABAN: First of all, we were at a team banquet tonight, and we did not tell the team. I was not aware for sure of what the circumstance was going to be. Relative to the selection process. And actually got it from ESPN right before we went on the air and our players really learned about it at the banquet when we piped the ESPN show into them.
So they extremely excited to have the opportunity to play in the BCS National Championship game, and a lot of the guys on our team played in the game a couple of years ago and know what a competitive venue it is. And they have a tremendous amount of respect for LSU's team and having played them earlier in the season.
So we were really excited about that. I did watch the Oklahoma State game last night. I think Oklahoma State has a really, really good football team. Maybe deserving. But rather than rehash the system, the system that we have worked the way it did.
And the two teams that came out on top are in the game. And I'm sure if we were in their position, we would be a little disappointed about that. And I understand that.
But it's a system that we have. And rather than rehash the system, I think maybe we should do research on what would make the system better in the future.

Q. Do you see college football moving back toward the style that you guys and LSU play, a lot more run game and better emphasis on offensive linemen and drive blocking instead of the slide blocking and the spread and things?
COACH SABAN: Well, you know, I think that there's a lot of good styles of football. Just because it ends up this way right now, I mean, there were teams that won the National Championship running a wishbone. And there's teams that won the National Championship in the spread and throwing the ball over the field and never having a quarterback under center and taking the ball on the gun every snap in the game.
So there's a lot of different styles that work. I think the most important thing probably is you have the right kind of players to play that style.
And I think maybe the current trend is that with skill guys, fast guys, a good quarterback, you know, you may be able to turn a program around a little quicker with those kind of athletes that you might be more readily able to attract than actually getting the big physical guys that you need to be able to play the style of football that both us and LSU have had success with this particular year.

Q. With that first meeting in Tuscaloosa, do you think that LSU will have any kind of crowd advantage with that game being in New Orleans?
COACH SABAN: Well, I'm sure that New Orleans in Louisiana and it's an hour and 45 minutes from Baton Rouge. And there's a lot of LSU fans in Louisiana. And I'm sure that our Alabama fans will represent us extremely well.
But it's obviously going to be a little bit of home field advantage playing in the Sugar Bowl with LSU. I was on the other side of that when we played Oklahoma in the championship game in 2003. And I thought it was a bit of an advantage for us.

Q. What do you think it says about the respect that people have for the SEC to vote you all, LSU and Alabama, 1 and 2, in both the coaches's poll and media poll this year?
COACH SABAN: I think it speaks volumes for the respect the SEC has. That comes from the quality and body of work that the conference has from top to bottom in terms of good programs, quality coaches, lots of good players.
At one time this year in our division, just the West, you know, we had LSU first, us second, Arkansas third, in the whole national poll. For those people out there who say you didn't even win your conference, how come nobody was rated higher than the top three teams in our division, which is only six teams.
So I think it speaks volumes for the respect and quality that people have, and I think people get a lot of exposure to the SEC because the TV package we have and the games that are on TV and I think they see the quality of ball, the quality of athletes and how they enjoy watching that kind of football.
And I think it says a lot for our league. And is a real compliment to all the institutions in our league. To the SEC, to our commissioner, Mike Slive, who has done a fantastic job of continuing to develop and make our league what it is.
But all the institutions who contribute to the competitive balance that we have in our league in football.

Q. Just wanted to ask you, not playing in the league championship game and then the little bit of time between New Year's and January9th, how much will that help you from a health standpoint? Are you in a‑‑ are you guys in a pretty good spot in terms of injuries?
COACH SABAN: We're in a pretty good spot I think in terms of injuries. I think a few weeks off helps a team after a 12‑game season.
But I guess the management of 40 some days between games is probably a little bigger issue to be concerned about how you prepare your team, sort of like a one‑game season and how you prepare your team to come back and play after that long of a layoff and get them to play quality football.
So tackling is an issue when you have time off and how you practice that so you can effectively go in and play your best football I, think is, really critical. So it's really the preparation for the game that I think is most critical.

Q. Nick, if Alabama wins this game, do you think you'll be viewed as‑‑ will be and should be viewed as the clear national champion, or do you think there would still be some controversy or doubt because these two teams would have split two games this year?
COACH SABAN: I think if they ever‑‑ if the Super Bowl champ ever lost to someone else, lost to that team during the regular season and wins the Super Bowl, beats them in the Super Bowl, beats them in the playoff, that's what it is. It's the National Championship game.
LSU beat us and they won the SEC championship. And now this is a completely different venue where people still think‑‑ and I think the voters and the system sort of proved that out‑‑ that these are the best two teams and they're going to play again for the National Championship.
And I think whoever wins the game should be viewed as the national champion.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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