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January 6, 2018

Nick Saban

Atlanta, Georgia

Q. What's unique about Georgia's running game?
NICK SABAN: Well, first of all, let me just say that I think it's an honor, certainly a privilege for us to have the opportunity to be in the National Championship Game. I think it's a tribute to our players, our coaches for the job that they've done all year long, to create an opportunity for themselves, and obviously playing, I think, one of the best teams in college football in the University of Georgia and their staff and their players certainly deserve to be congratulated for all they've been able to accomplish this year.

The question is what's unique about Georgia's running game. I think first of all, they do a really good job in terms of their system and scheme, in terms of how they try to attack people. Their offensive line has certainly created an identity up front. They've got two great running backs, do a really good job with the play-action passes. Their quarterback has been very efficient and effective.

So the combination of the balance that they create with the running game and their ability to throw the ball down the field, whether it's RPOs or play-action passes makes them very difficult to defend.

Q. (Indiscernible).
NICK SABAN: Well, that's certainly the goal. That's what you'd like to do. I think everybody would like to finish strong. That's the goal for what we'd like to do. I think when you play in an emotional game like that, which both teams played, no doubt, it's a challenge for each individual to sort of act like you want to be, to come up with the energy, the enthusiasm, to go out there and play with confidence, not only when the game comes but then how you prepare for the game.

Q. What did you learn about Georgia's resilience last week from the way they played in the Rose Bowl?
NICK SABAN: Well, I think it speaks a lot of a team's competitive character when they put themselves in a position where they have to keep playing and coming back in the game. But I don't think you get to this point if your team doesn't have that, and they certainly showed it in that particular game. It was a great football game, and they certainly made the plays when they needed to, whether it was two-minute at the end of the game or big plays to get back in the game.

Q. Are you impressed with Jake Fromm and the way he's developed?
NICK SABAN: No question. I think the guy has played extremely well all year long, been very efficient, very effective as a passer, does a great job of executing their offense, put them in the right plays, very smart, great understanding, good decision maker, distributes the ball correctly almost all the time, and he's been accurate and efficient in the way he's done it.

Q. (Question regarding expanded playoff.)
NICK SABAN: I don't think that any system where you have to make a subjective decision about who gets in and who doesn't could be totally fair because it's subjective. I think there's all these factors that get taken into consideration, whether it's strength of schedule, conferences, whatever, Conference Championships. You know a lot more about this than I do. So I can't really answer that, to say that it's fair. If we had a system where it was foolproof in terms of what you had to do to qualify, then I think you could say that it's fair. But as long as it's subjective, it can't be totally fair. I mean, I think everybody's intention is that it's totally fair, and they do it with great integrity and honesty in terms of how they pick. But I think as long as it's subjective, somebody is going to have an opinion of maybe how it could have been done another way.

I mean, I always talk about the basketball tournament, they pick, what is it, 68 teams, and then you all have a two-hour show and who didn't get in and who got in and all that. It wouldn't make any difference how many teams got in. It would always be speculation as to who could have or maybe who should have.

Q. (Indiscernible).
NICK SABAN: Raekwon Davis has done an outstanding job for us all year long. Really a conscientious, hard-working player who has made a tremendous amount of improvement, has a better understanding of what he's required to do to be an effective player, and has shown a lot of discipline and able to do that on a more consistent basis now. And his production has gone up because of that.

Q. What qualities does Kirby have (indiscernible)?
NICK SABAN: Well, Kirby is an outstanding coach. There's no doubt about it. He did a fabulous job for us for the years that he was with us, and I think the results that he got in whatever his role was, you know, certainly showed that he's very, very capable in terms of leadership and being responsible to getting people to play at a high standard, and I certainly think that he's done that as a head coach now. I think it's a real tribute to him, his staff, the leadership that they have and the players that have all bought in to what they're trying to do to be able to get in this position.

Q. (Indiscernible).
NICK SABAN: Look, it really doesn't mean anything to me. My No. 1 goal, and the thing that I don't sleep well at night thinking about, is how do we get our players in the best position to be able to go play their best football game, whether it's how we get them motivated to do it, how we practice them to do it, the game plan that we put in for them to do it. These guys, these coaches, these players have really put a lot forward, made a lot of sacrifices, worked really hard to have the opportunity to be where they are, and this game is not really about me. It's about all of them, and trying to put them in the best position that they possibly can be in to have a chance to be successful.

Q. At SEC Media Day you talked about not wasting a failure. What was the message leading up to the Clemson game?
NICK SABAN: Well, that was part of it, that we had an opportunity that we didn't succeed at. Not wasting a failure is all about what can we learn from that experience, and I think that we learned a lot, not just in the way we played in the last game but throughout the whole course of the season, and I thought the players responded pretty well in that game. The real challenge will be can we duplicate that kind of energy in this game.

Q. What was it about Jake Fromm that made you want him in Tuscaloosa?
NICK SABAN: Well, Jake was an outstanding player, very productive in high school, great leader, had a lot of success on the field, came to our camp and was very, very accurate, efficient, effective, right personality, got the right stuff. No doubt that he had all the ingredients and intangibles that you're looking for for a guy to lead your team and be your quarterback, and we were disappointed that we didn't get him, but he's certainly done an outstanding job with the opportunity that he has right now.

Q. How do you feel about the possibility of President Trump (indiscernible)?
NICK SABAN: You know, look, I have great respect for the office of the President of the United States, and it would be an honor, whoever was in that position, if they chose to come to see the College Football National Championship Game.

Q. Do you think Kirby is trying to emulate what you've done at Alabama?
NICK SABAN: Well, you know, we've had several guys that have been great assistants for us that have gone on to be head coaches, and one of the things that I always say to them when they get the opportunity is, be who you are, and do things like you believe. And I think Kirby has done that, and I think he's done it extremely well. If there's something that he learned philosophically from the way we do things that has been beneficial to him, I guess that would be apparent to anyone in terms of what his philosophy is and how he tries to do things. But I also think that he's done a good job of being who he is.

Q. (Indiscernible).
NICK SABAN: Well, Levi is a very conscientious guy, works hard, has done it for a long time in his career, has come a long way in his career, and has certainly taken advantage of the opportunity that he has, and he's been a very consistent performer for us. We certainly appreciate all that he's done to develop into the kind of player that he is, but he's also a great ambassador and leader on the team for his teammates, and I think one of the most well-liked guys on our team.

Q. (Indiscernible).
NICK SABAN: Well, I think that's always really important. I think turning the ball over is one of the most significant statistics in football relative to winning and losing. So to be able to take care of the ball without being risk aversive to the point where you're afraid to try to make a play is important, and I think turnovers will be probably important in this game, and I do agree with you that Jalen has done a really good job in terms of ball security and decision making and taking care of the football for us this year.

Q. You've been doing this for a long time. (Indiscernible).
NICK SABAN: They're probably as good as I can ever remember. Those two guys are fantastic players. They complement each other very well. They're both relentless type competitors. You know, they're outstanding players, and I'm sure they're going to have great careers beyond college. They've been very, very productive. I mean, they are -- I can't say enough about how I feel about and how much respective for what they've been able to accomplish and what they've done this year.

Q. Georgia is practicing in their own facilities. What are your thoughts on that?
NICK SABAN: I've got enough to worry about, about our team. I'm sure their coaching staff is capable enough of making the right decisions for what they do. I'm worried about what we're going to do in practice today. I'm worried about our team.

Q. (Question about the turnaround between games.).
NICK SABAN: I think focus is really important, to get re-focused on what you want to accomplish and what you want to do and try to get the team ready and try to get them to refocus and re-center very quickly. It is a little bit of a unique circumstance because you're not just in a playoff game, you're in a bowl game, and you've been there for a long time, and you come home and have to immediately get back into another preparation. Maturity of players is very important in terms of how do they manage that, how do they handle that, you never really know if you did it correctly until you get out there and start playing and see how everybody responds.

Q. Coach Smart mentioned earlier that this game wasn't about him and you, that if it was pickup basketball, he liked his chances. What do you think about that?
NICK SABAN: Well, first of all, Kirby was always on my team (laughter), so we weren't playing against each other, we were playing with each other. I'm kind of the commissioner of the league when we play basketball, so I kind of pick my team based on who's there to play. I also pick the guy on the other team that's going to guard me, and I call all the fouls. So we don't lose much. (Laughter.)

But I do agree that this game is not about -- this game is about the players. I mean, these players have all worked hard to have an opportunity on both sides to be in a position that they're in. They're the ones that are going to play the game, and we're all going to have to live with whatever happens in the game, but the game is really about the players, and that should be the focus of the game in my opinion.

Q. Do you guys align in some ways, or are you totally -- how do your personalities compare?
NICK SABAN: Well, I don't really make comparisons. I don't think I'm the kind of person or should be in a position to judge anyone else or whatever. I know Kirby is a fine person. He's a good family man. He's got a great family. He's a very bright guy. He's a hard worker. He's done a good job in every circumstance professionally that he's had an opportunity to achieve at. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and what he's done from that standpoint.

Q. Who was kind of your mentor when you started coaching?
NICK SABAN: Well, I felt like I had some really good mentors growing up. My dad was my Pop Warner coach, and he was a tough nut and was -- anybody out there played for their dad, you know, kind of knows what that's like. But I learned a lot of lessons about hard work and perseverance and overcoming adversity and playing to a high standard. My high school coach was the same way. Don James, my college coach, who really is responsible for me getting into coaching because I never really wanted to be a coach. Had a great program wherever he was, and a lot of the things that we still do today I learned back then from him.

But probably George Perles and Bill Belichick, George Perles because at Michigan State he gave me the first opportunity to be in a position of leadership as a coordinator. He had been with the Steelers for a long time which Chuck Noll. They had a lot of success, so there was a lot of philosophical things that were very positive. And Bill Belichick, obviously, the four years in Cleveland that we worked together when I was his defensive coordinator, probably professionally sort of advanced learning about organization, how to define responsibilities of people in an organization, expectations, develop a culture of accountability.

So I would say those folks probably -- I don't know that there's anybody I ever worked for that I didn't learn something from, but I would say those probably had the greatest impact.

Q. (Question about the toll on players.).
NICK SABAN: I think this is a big philosophical question. If you look at the answer from a thousand feet, it's bigger than do we want to expand the playoffs. I've made this statement before, that college football has always been unique because a lot of college football players got a lot of positive self-gratification for having a good season by going to a bowl game and so did their fans, and so bowl games have been a real traditional part of college football. And I think the more emphasis that you put on the playoffs, the more you sort of dissipate the importance of the bowl games and the interest that people have in bowl games, whether it be fans or media or whomever, so it doesn't quite become the positive experience for the players.

I think philosophically somebody has got to decide can these two things coexist, and to what degree do we want them to coexist, and what's the priority for what's more important, playoffs or having bowl games. But me personally, I think if you keep expanding the playoffs, you're going to minimize the importance of bowl games, and they'll probably go away, and that's something that has been a real traditional part of the college football landscape for a long time.

Q. Why is it important (indiscernible)?
NICK SABAN: You're asking me why I call it an organization?

Q. (Indiscernible).
NICK SABAN: Well, we are a program. We are a team. But I think we are an organization. Not only in terms of the football part of it, but the whole team relative to our administration, our athletic administration, our academic community in terms of how we develop relationships to help our players develop careers off the field. We have certainly development programs, which help players have a better chance to be successful in life because of the choices and decisions that they make. We have a career development program. So it is an organization, but it's an organization that encompasses a lot of people who make a contribution to that.

To me team, organization, program, those are sort of just mincing words, really.

Q. What's the biggest reason you think we need a college football commissioner?
NICK SABAN: So you're assuming that I think we do.

Q. Well, do we?
NICK SABAN: You know, we have an organizational body right now that I think is in charge of running college football, and I think that because of the changes through the years in terms of having Power Five conferences as opposed to 1-AA, Division II, Division III, and I think all of those things are very important for participation, but I also believe that maybe there should be some separation of what the priorities and operation of those are because I think it's a little bit different. And whether there's some individual that should be in charge of that or some organization should be in charge of that or -- but I do think it's something that from a business standpoint probably should be addressed or looked at or researched or some decision made on it in the future.

Q. You got over 400 votes in the (indiscernible). How do you feel about that? Secondly, I know you've got a friend in the Senate. Is politics ever something you would consider post-football career?
NICK SABAN: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. I don't know how I got the votes. I wasn't really aware that I was getting votes. Don't really care that I got any votes. But I do respect the process that we have in terms of electing officials, and hopefully that process worked effectively in our state.

Q. How would you feel about instead of playing back-to-back weeks, you'd have a week off before the championship game?
NICK SABAN: Let me answer that this way: I think because of the format of how we play and the fact that you go to a bowl game and you're there for six days, it's not really like going to LSU to play a game on Saturday night, where you leave on Friday and come back after the game, and the players are off on Sunday and then you kind of go back to work on Monday. You know, you have a tough time getting back. You've got an entourage of people that make these trips -- the players have to take a lot of stuff to be there for a long time.

I don't know about the time, but I think an extra day or two for travel and recovery might be something that should be considered in the future.

Q. (Indiscernible).
NICK SABAN: No, we're not healthy. We've got an injury list that's really, really long. It's been a cumulative effect of the season. We lost -- I think it's documented out there that we lost two more players in the last game, Lester Cotton and Anfernee Jennings. Both starters are out for this game. I can't even tell you the number of guys that we have out, but it's a pretty significant number.

Q. Have you ever had a season where you've had this many guys hurt, even going back to LSU, Michigan State?
NICK SABAN: I don't really recall. You'd almost have to do some specific research, but these are the kind of things that you usually remember. But the one thing that I've been really pleased with is the way that a number of players have gotten an opportunity because of some of the absence that we've had due to injury, and they've stepped up and done a really nice job, and hopefully there will be some other opportunities for guys to do the same thing in this game.

Q. When you look back at the 2015 game against Georgia and Ole Miss was a loss a couple weeks before that, how significant was that win for you guys going on to win the National Championship?
NICK SABAN: Well, I think there's a lot of big games in every season, and that certainly was one in that season. But we had several. You almost have to win all your games, so they're all pretty significant, and it's whichever one you're playing that week is the most significant in that particular week. That was a big game for us, and we had a lot of big games this year, and we'll probably continue to have a lot of big games in the future.

Q. (Indiscernible)?
NICK SABAN: Well, I don't get involved in politics. We really try to do as much as we can to help people in the community. Terry and I and our Nick's Kids Foundation right now are actually building a juvenile detention center for educational purposes to educate the juveniles so when they get out they can graduate from high school as well as have a welding or something that they can go do as a profession. We try to stay out of the political arena. We've tried to be very supportive in the community. Our team actually chose this year to take action to do something to help people in the community, and that's basically where this idea of the juvenile detention center was born.

I've always tried to support equal rights for all folks, and we certainly have a lot of players on our team that have had a tremendous amount of success and taken advantage of the opportunity through the support that we've tried to provide them so that they can have a better quality of life.

Q. Is there a special pride when you see your past players having great success?
NICK SABAN: Well, I think that's what college football is all about. You're trying to create a lot of opportunities for a lot of people. Sometimes guys don't get those opportunities coming out of high school, and when they take it upon themselves to go try anyway and shoot for what their dreams really are in terms of being college football players and they succeed at it, it really makes you have a really enjoyable place in your heart to see guys that work their way through and have success that way.

Q. (Indiscernible).
NICK SABAN: Look, I'm really proud of the fact that we've had several coaches that have done a great job on our staff for us, and because of the great job that they did and the success that they had and the contribution that they made to the success that we've had, they've had opportunities, and I'm always hopeful that those guys go on and be successful wherever they are. Certainly Kirby has done that as well as anyone.

Q. (Indiscernible).
NICK SABAN: Well, I thought shortly after Kirby had the responsibility of being a coordinator, I think when you put somebody in a position of leadership, see how they handle it, see how they manage it, see how they affect people, see how they present things, how they lead, you know then that that person has the right stuff to be a head coach.

Q. What do you think about the President coming to the game?
NICK SABAN: I already answered that question.

Q. I wasn't here for the answer.
NICK SABAN: I have great respect for the office of the Presidency of the United States, and I think regardless of who the President was, that would be a real honor that they came to see our team play.

Q. There's a perception out there that (indiscernible) do you agree with that?
NICK SABAN: Look, I think the SEC is a great league from top to bottom, and I think each year it changes a little bit. Sometimes there's seven or eight or nine really good teams. Sometimes there's three or four or five. And I think it depends a little bit on players that leave, players that come in, quarterbacks, how many injuries people get, do they lose their quarterback. I thought this was a good year in the SEC. Has there been years when I thought there was maybe a few more really stronger teams? Maybe. But I guess any league would be criticized for being top heavy when two of the teams are playing in the championship game.

Q. When you look at Rashaan and where he's come from, being a top recruit and having to work his way up to the position, what do you say about him having the resolve to hang in there?
NICK SABAN: Well, Rashaan Evans has always been a guy that has tremendous competitive character. He's a hard worker. And I think it's an example of when players don't play exactly the same position in college that they played in high school, it takes a little bit longer for them to develop in terms of -- because they're learning a new position basically. So I've seen it happen in guys that were quarterbacks in high school and you try to make them receivers or defensive backs, and Rashaan basically played defensive end with his hand in the dirt and rushed the passer, which he can do that. But when you try to stand up and play linebacker there's a lot more to learn in terms of pass coverage and all kinds of things, keys, reads, it's not a single key, it's a bigger-picture-type keying, and it just takes a little bit more time for guys to develop. Rashaan was never a guy that we were ever disappointed in. He always made a contribution to the team in whatever his role was, and now that role has expanded into being a leader and one of the real bell cows on our defense.

Q. At the beginning of the season (indiscernible).
NICK SABAN: No, I don't imagine much because I don't think too far out in the future. I'm always kind of next play, next game, next practice, whatever. You've got to kind of take those things one play at a time, one game at a time to be able to have any kind of consistency in performance. I thought in all honesty when the season started that they would have a very good team. They had a lot of players coming back, and they had a relatively good season the year before. It's not surprising to me that they are where they are, but I never imagined it, never thought of it that way.

Q. How big is it to have Jeremy and Kirby both know so many players, almost the entire personnel in this ballgame? How unique is that?
NICK SABAN: Well, it's somewhat helpful, I guess, because personnel match-ups is something that probably is not as significant in college football as it is in pro ball because the style of the game is so much different. But I think it is some advantage to know the other team's players to some degree. They probably know ours as well as anybody.

Q. (Indiscernible).
NICK SABAN: Mental clutter would be all the things that I'm dealing with now. Let's start with that, whether it's commissioner, president -- all the things that I've been asked that have nothing to do with the game. And a lot of the things that go on in social media that affect people in terms of how they think, the feelings that they have, the choices that they make. I think you have to be really focused on making the right choices and decisions to help you perform and not be affected by what somebody else thinks, what somebody else says. But that's the part of the mental clutter -- the external factors that can affect how do you perform in terms of what's important for you to do, how does that affect you.

Q. (Indiscernible).
NICK SABAN: Well, I think it all comes down to focus, focusing on the correct things and understanding that at the end of the day, playing well is the most important thing. And you're really judged to a large degree in our arena as how you played the last play, how you played the last game.

So what happened last week really doesn't matter a whole lot. If you're going to have any kind of consistency in performance, you have to play to a standard all the time.

Q. (Indiscernible).
NICK SABAN: Well, I think there's a completely different mindset now about playing young players, first of all, at all positions. I mean, I remember when I was at Ohio State, Woody Hayes wasn't a coach, but he used to make the statement, for every sophomore that you started on your team, you'd lose one game. Now we play guys as freshmen, and they do very, very well.

First of all, I do think it has a lot to do with the development, the high school programs. I also think it has a little bit to do with style of play. I think the spread offense probably -- as guys are coming up, they're coming up in that offense. They're not coming up in some hand-the-ball off in the I-formation. So their knowledge and experience is a lot greater than maybe in old-fashioned football.

And I think the maturity and what young people are exposed to now much earlier, whether it's media, whether it's playing in big games, attention that they get. So I think they're more well-equipped to handle all that stuff when they get in college. I think they have a better understanding of what it takes to play, actually, and be successful. There's quite a few players that are capable of playing now as freshmen. We probably play as many freshmen as many programs, and they've done extremely well for us.

Q. What is the impact of losing coordinators year after year?
NICK SABAN: Well, it does create some challenges, and it's something that we certainly have to work through. We've been fortunate to have really good coaches, and if we're going to be successful in the future, we're going to have to continue to be able to find those kind of people.

Q. (Indiscernible).
NICK SABAN: Yeah, Da'Ron Payne was an outstanding player in high school, big, physical, really good agility, very athletic, so it's no surprise to me that he's done as well as he has and has developed into a really good player.

Q. (Indiscernible).
NICK SABAN: You know, I don't get too involved in all that stuff. Coach Cochran has his own deal going on down there in terms of how he motivates guys to do things. I didn't really have any words for anybody.

Q. How would you describe Jalen's development from last year to this year?
NICK SABAN: I think Jalen has made progress in all areas as a quarterback. I think we've tried to give him more and more to do in terms of the passing game. And I think he's responded to that in a positive way. There's certainly still work to do there for us and for him and our entire offense in terms of being efficient and effective when it comes to creating that kind of balance on offense. And we're going to continue to work on that.

Q. (Indiscernible).
NICK SABAN: Well, there's probably a thousand things. I've had great mentors. I've had a lot of people teach a lot of really good lessons. But I guess the most recent that comes to mind, which I mentioned last week, was when it comes to people making New Year's resolutions, that's all about what you want to do in the future. I think the most important thing about how you succeed at that is what you sort of persevere and what you resist. So those choices and decisions will help you be able to make the changes that you'd like to make.

Q. (Indiscernible).
NICK SABAN: Well, I think the biggest thing is life is difficult, so for any of us who have the expectation that everything is always going to work out perfectly in our life, we're going to have a lot of disappointments because some things we control and some things we don't, but we all have difficulties that we have to deal with. And I think if you have the expectation to some degree that things are not always going to work out perfectly for you, you can be -- you can have a much more positive approach to how do I solve these problems, how do I learn from those things, how do I grow. I guess that would be the biggest advice that I could try to give you.

Q. (Indiscernible).
NICK SABAN: Well, I'll just talk about it professionally rather than personally. You know, when we won the Rose Bowl in 1987 and I was the defensive coordinator at Michigan State, the Kent State job was open, which was my alma mater, which I thought I should get the job, so I went and interviewed, and I didn't get the job and I was devastated. That's why I went to the NFL for the first time because I said I'll never be a head coach. If I can't get the Kent State job, I'll never be a head coach.

But then as I look back at it, if I'd have got the Kent State job, I probably wouldn't be sitting here right now.

Q. (Indiscernible).
NICK SABAN: I can go either way with that. I'm not real particular. I haven't had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for a long time.

Q. How many cups of coffee do you have in the morning?
NICK SABAN: Two. Two is kind of supposedly my quota. As soon as I get up in the morning -- I had two today before the coffee pot was full.

Q. (Indiscernible).
NICK SABAN: How about I just recommend to you a couple books that you could read, like there's a book called Stoics, and it's got all of Marcus Aurelius' philosophies of how you should think and how you should sort of be positive and not get affected by things that you can't control. I would say read the book, but the book is basically about learn how to control the things that you can control and not get too upset about the things that you can't control so that at least what you can control you have a chance to make better.

Q. (Indiscernible).
NICK SABAN: Well, it depends on what time I get back to the hotel. It was pretty late after that one. I actually like it better when we play at home and she makes homemade spaghetti sauce, but the pizza was good.

Q. (Indiscernible).
NICK SABAN: I didn't really have a reaction to it. You know, I'm not big on the gimmick stuff. But if it works for the players, I'm all for it. Coach Cochran likes that kind of stuff, and the players usually respond to it, and they have fun with it, which I think is important. It's a long season, and I think for guys to be able to have a little fun -- I don't think it was meant to be any disrespect to anybody or anything but more of a reflection on the fact that we didn't finish the way we should have, and maybe we have another opportunity to do that now.

Q. Why are you 11-0 against former assistant coaches?
NICK SABAN: Well, first of all, I've answered that question before. I think if the coaches that I coached against before had our team and our players, they would have beat me as a coach. Does that make sense? We had an established program. Those guys had worked for me and gone on to try to create and build a program. So they really -- it wasn't always exactly a level playing field in terms of who had the best players and all that.

But I'm proud of the fact that Kirby has done a great job. I think Georgia does a great job. They have a lot of tradition and they've won for a long time, and he's done a fantastic job to get them to this level. We have a tremendous amount of respect for what we see in terms of our preparation to play against them and the great job that they do of coaching and preparing their players and how their guys compete.

It's certainly a challenge to play against someone who does such a good job.

Q. (Indiscernible).
NICK SABAN: Well, Miss Gogsill was my English teacher in the seventh or eighth grade and all that stuff you have to learn in English about tenses and all that. But she was good because I hated it, and she got me to do it. Miss Turkovich was my math teacher and she was really good because I didn't like that too well, either, and she got me to do it, and Ms. Helminsky was my music teacher, and if it wasn't for her, I might not have been successful in life because she gave me a D in music when I wouldn't get up and sing because I was shy, and my dad made me turn my basketball uniform in for getting a D and took me to the coal mines in West Virginia and we went down 527 feet and said this is where you're going to end up if you don't get an education. So I made up my mind after that that I'm going to do better in school, so I can thank Miss Helminsky for that.

Q. (Indiscernible).
NICK SABAN: I don't think there's any question that I have a tremendous amount of respect for teachers. We just did our teacher appreciation day in Tuscaloosa with our Nick's Kids Foundation, which we recognize, I think, 50 teachers every year. Teaching is all about inspiring learning, so if you're a good teacher and you can inspire someone to learn and be motivated to learn and grow, they have a much better chance to be successful in life, and I think that's kind of the goal.

Q. (Indiscernible).
NICK SABAN: Well, the way I've approached it is sort of what you just alluded to, is that every year you're really kind of starting over, and you're building a program. It's no different that when next year comes that we go to build the program for the next season or we went someplace else to build a program, what basically is the difference. So that's kind of how we've tried to approach it each year.

Q. What can you tell us about Lester Cotton?
NICK SABAN: He's out.

Q. (Indiscernible).
NICK SABAN: Well, I think you try to create a standard for how you want to do things, then you challenge yourself to try to meet the standard every day, and you try to get the people in your organization to do the same. Success is not a continuum. It's momentary, and I think one of the most difficult things for us as human beings to do is when we have success is not to get complacent, not to be satisfied, but to be able to continue to challenge ourselves and even learn and grow when you're having success. Most people are very willing when things don't go well to change, to learn, to do what they have to do to try to get better. But it usually takes some kind of a thunderbolt to get them to do it, where the question always becomes if you know these things are issues and problems, why do we have to have a failure to actually fix it and change it. But that's human nature. I mean, human nature is meet my quota, sit in a rocking chair and eat Tostito's, not to go set the world record, no different than when we were in school, if you made an A on the first test, you said I can take it easy for two weeks, have a C on the next one and have a B average. But that's kind of human nature, so that's what you're trying to overcome and it's difficult. It's challenging, and it's something that you have to work on every day.

Q. Have you learned anything about how to get guys to want more once they've achieved?
NICK SABAN: Yeah, you learn, but is it always effective? Does it always work? Not necessarily. And even though you may know people are being complacent, sometimes you can't affect it like you'd like, and that's frustrating and disappointing, and you keep trying to find a way. But even though you may know and understand, it's not always easy to conquer.

Q. What are your favorite bands? What are you listening to?
NICK SABAN: Well, I have four favorites on a DVD in my car, all right: Michael Jackson, The Rolling Stones, The Eagles, and Elton John. Now, for all you young' ns-- see, one good things about my age is we grew up in a pop culture that no one else will ever have the opportunity to live through, from Elvis Presley all the way through hard rock, Motown, all the way through, soft rock, all that. So I lived all that, so I enjoy all that. And even though my son is 31 years old, he plays guitar, he plays all the stuff when I was going to college. So that's just proof in the pudding to me that they don't make them like they used to.

So I have Boat Jam, when I go on my boat in the summertime, and we have -- music important, I mean, to me. I love listening to music. Do I listen to music when I work? Not really. But it does create a little bit of a different kind of mindset sometimes, a little bit of a pick me up, which I appreciate.

Q. When do you show your lighter side?
NICK SABAN: You know, I don't really know that I'm that hard on players. I think demanding may be a little better way to say it. I think the goal as a coach is to get someone to reach their full potential as a player, and sometimes -- and as a person. And sometimes they don't have the same goals and aspirations that maybe they should have or you have for them, all right, so you're always looking for ways to create a culture of accountability where they have the best chance to be successful. And sometimes that takes a little tough love to get them to do it, but I would be disappointed if there was any player that I coached that didn't think that I had compassion for him and his family and really didn't care about them as people. That would upset me probably as much as anything.

Q. (Inaudible).
NICK SABAN: Minkah has just got all the right stuff. He's got a lot of ability, but he's really driven in terms of work ethic, preparation, wanting to be successful. Just really great character and attitude, doesn't get affected by a lot of other external factors, and just has a really high standard for what he expects of himself.

Q. Any feedback on the impact of social media as you prepare for this game, distraction or benefits?
NICK SABAN: Well, I think social media kind of is what it is, and there's a lot of information out there, and a lot of times people get a lot of positive self-gratification from that. But it also can be a little bit negative at times. The way I try to get our players to sort of understand it is that really shouldn't be your motivation. It shouldn't be what somebody else thinks. It really should be the self-respect that you have for what you want to do, what you want to accomplish. You shouldn't really be affected in a good way or a bad way.

Now, that's easier said than done, I think, but it is the goal.

Q. What do you think about UCF declaring themselves national champions?
NICK SABAN: I'm fine with it. Doesn't mean anything to anybody but them. I mean, I'm fine with it. I mean, they should be proud of the season they had. I know how hard it is for -- we've only had one undefeated season, I think, in all the time I've been around. It's a difficult accomplishment. I think when players accomplish that, they should feel good about what they've accomplished.

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