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July 23, 2009
THE MODERATOR: We'll continue with Alabama head coach Nick Saban.
COACH SABAN: How is everybody doing today? It's great to be here. It's great to be back to work. Summer vacation is a great time for family. It's a great time for building relationships, which in the coaching profession, you don't always have time to do. As you get older, you certainly appreciate more.
But with my wife Terry, for the last two or three weeks, it's really good to get back to work because at least there's somebody who will listen to what you have to say. There's a few people that will respond to what I want to do. So we did have a great vacation.
I hope y'all had a great vacation. And we are excited to be back and looking forward to the challenges of the season.
It's obviously been a great two years at the University of Alabama. The positive energy and passion that our fans have shown in supporting our team has all contributed in a very positive way to any success that we've been able to have in rebuilding the program.
I know that our players certainly appreciate it. Our coaches certainly appreciate it. And we certainly appreciate it. Our administration, Dr. Witt, has done a phenomenal job of making the University of Alabama one of the outstanding public institutions in the country academically, which has certainly enhanced our recruiting. And his support has been very positive in terms of the university athletic programs.
Mal Moore has provided tremendous leadership and facilities for us to have one of the greatest programs in the country. So we're very, very pleased and happy about all of that.
We've had an outstanding off-season with our team. We've had a very good summer with our team. But, as you all will try to do after this media day, you will try to predict what's gonna happen in this season. I wish you well in that. I wish you good luck. Because, you know, it's very difficult to predict what a bunch of adolescents are going to do, and we have over a hundred of 'em on our team. It's very difficult sometimes to predict what the few of them you might have at home might do, if you have children. It's difficult to predict what's going to happen with any team.
That's why we choose to stay focused on the things we need to do to build an outstanding team. The basic process of what is important to any good team.
First thing is, is you have to have togetherness on the team. You have to have trust and respect for each other and a positive and energy and attitude that's gonna help support the players on your team so that everybody has the best chance to play their role, do their role well, and be a productive part of the team. This team chemistry and leadership is very, very important.
People who are role models for the principles and values of the organization, who buy in and understand the vision of what the organization is trying to accomplish, and have the personality to inspire other people to the vision. You know, that's what team chemistry and leadership is all about.
I think it's also important that you establish a work ethic on your team, that your team understands they're working to dominate the competition. It's not relative to what they think hard work is; it's what they need to do to dominate the competition in a very competitive, difficult, tough league, with a very difficult, tough schedule.
It's important that you have a group that is responsible for their own self-determination in terms of doing their job. You know, when I worked with Bill Belichick, we only had one sign in the whole building, and that was: Do your job. And it was defined for everybody, from the janitor, to the secretary, to the strength coach, to the equipment man to the coaches, to the players, everybody had an expectation of what their responsibility was to execute their job.
And I think the will to do that in your organization, on your team, goes a long way in seeing how your team is going to develop.
Those factors are going to have a lot to say about how our team develops. You know, it's every individual. You know, we don't have one individual on our team that can make our team great. But we do have one individual, any one individual, who could destroy the team chemistry, destroy all these things that we're talking about by being a blinking light and making bad choices and decisions about what they do.
We had an example of that last year, even in our Bowl game. So you saw what kind of team we had for 13 weeks, and then what kind of team we have for the 14th game that we played.
So those are the challenges that we're faced with as coaches in terms of the process of what it takes to be successful.
There's really two things that are really, really important in building a successful program. One is how you bring players to your team, which you all refer to that as recruiting. And the second is how you develop the players on your team. I think that's critical. It's going to be critical in the development of players on our team relative to some of the challenges that we have on our team offensively, defensively, and in special teams.
Offensively we're gonna have a new quarterback. Greg McElroy has done a nice job of developing. He's a good leader. He's instinctive. Players like him. He makes good decisions. He's been in the offense for two years. But he does lack experience. He's only going to get that experience by playing and making plays. With that, he's going to develop a lot of respect from his teammates.
The offensive line is a critical area for us to develop. So we have some young players that need to step up. And how that happens, you know, last year when I stood up here, it was linebacker, a guy like Dont'a Hightower came in and played outstanding football and we became a much better defense because of that. We're going to have some of those challenges in the offensive line.
I think for our receiver core to continue and develop, and have more explosive players, other than Julio Jones, showing consistency in making plays, is going to have a lot to do with it. We have good runners with experience coming back.
The challenge to me on defense is those guys have to take it to the next level. They can't be satisfied. You know, it's kind of human nature that, when you're satisfied and you're ranked high in a lot of categories, all that, that maybe you don't challenge yourself as much. You get a little complacent; you get a little satisfied. That can't happen.
And the leadership in our organization, from players and coaches alike, cannot allow that to happen, so that we continue to improve and play even better on defense.
We slipped a little bit, other than our return game last year, punt returns, you know, on special teams. We had a lot of young players. We had 14 freshmen letter last year. A lot of them played on special teams. We weren't as good, I don't think, on teams themselves, coverage teams. Hopefully that's an area of our team that we can improve dramatically.
Those are some of the things that I think are challenges for us from an overall program standpoint, as well as individually on our team and how our team develops.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Talk about how difficult a challenge it is to replace an Andre Smith, but also Antoine Caldwell gets overlooked, and he was an all-American center, two anchor positions on your offensive line.
COACH SABAN: I don't think you can really replace guys like those guys. I think they were outstanding players. Certainly Smitty performed well had had a lot of consistency in his performance. Antoine Caldwell was not only an outstanding player at his position, but he was an outstanding leader on our football team.
I think that the players have opportunities to create their own identity at those positions. James Carpenter showed he could at least be a functional offensive lineman in this league through spring practice. We're hopeful he'll continue to develop and improve as his knowledge and experience grows as an offensive lineman. William Vlachos was a good center for us in the spring. But Mike Johnson is the guy that has the most experience and is a real quality player for us. Needs to be a leader who affects the other people in this group so that our offensive line can develop.
Every question that you ask me about quarterback is gonna come right back to this group. Quarterback is a difficult position to play if you don't have good people around you, and it starts with the offensive line.
I think how this group develops will affect, especially early on in the season, how our offensive team functions.
Q. You're starting the second straight season where you have a neutral site game, the kickoff game. Could you talk about what you learned last year by starting your season where you did in Atlanta. What did you, as a coach, learn and benefit from having your team start the season on the road on a big stage like that?
COACH SABAN: Well, I think first of all, it helped our team develop. And our team gained a tremendous amount of confidence by playing on the road and playing a top-10 opponent last year. It's a tremendous venue in Atlanta. They do an outstanding job, a fantastic job, as a city and as an organization, in putting on this game that makes it a real quality event for the players.
But I don't think anybody would have said, Your team's gonna go on the road to Georgia, Tennessee, LSU and Arkansas, and win all those games last year. I think playing that game over there, win, lose or draw, probably helped our team develop a confidence of playing. Neutral site or not, it's still not at home, and that helped us in those games. It helped our confidence as a team.
This year we're gonna play a very challenging team in Virginia Tech. I think it helps your off-season. The players are more intense about what they're doing because they know they're preparing for a huge challenge in the first game.
So there's a lot of positive things about it. There's a lot of exposure to it, which helps recruiting. And Atlanta is one of the major cities in the South. So not really a better location around to do something like that in.
Q. What are you expecting from Marquis Maze this year? Does he have to step up and do some big things for you this year? You look like you've lost some weight. You're almost as pretty as good.
COACH SABAN: You're looking good, too. That one commercial where they say, You look good, I'm not ready for that. But you do look good. I appreciate the compliment. I don't get many of those, incidentally.
I think it's important we have explosive players on offense for our team. I think Marquis Maze is one of the players that that can provide that. He has good speed, quickness, is good with the ball in his hands. He made some explosive plays in the spring game. I think not only Marquis Maze, but other players on our offensive team need to continue to show that we have more players who are capable of making explosive plays to compliment the people that we have.
Q. How much would you say Rolando McClain has matured in this last year?
COACH SABAN: He played great for us last year. I think he showed a tremendous amount of maturity from his freshman year when he started to last year. I think his maturity is not just as a football player, but what he's been able to do as a leader.
You know, leadership is not really an easy thing. There are some people who have natural leadership qualities to affect other people. But as you learn and grow as a leader, you learn which people to pat on the back and support and which ones to kick in the tail to get them going when they need it, and how to manage all these different sort of people, personalities that we deal with on a football team.
You know, Ro has certainly matured in that regard because he is a very good leader. He does affect other people. But leadership doesn't stop with one guy. I think it's important that last year we had great leadership on our team, even though we only had nine or 10 seniors on our team.
This year, we have some outstanding leadership that's not just in the senior class, but it's at varying levels of experience on our team. It's gonna be important that we develop all that internally at every position so that there is leadership that is constantly affecting people who need to develop - especially young players.
Q. In the pre-season polls, 8, 9 and 10 out of the SEC West, how do you envision the SEC West, not a prediction, but as you look at the other teams, what are your thoughts?
COACH SABAN: I think the SEC West is going to be really challenging this year. I think there's a lot of good programs, there's a lot of good teams, there's a lot of good returning players. So I feel like it's gonna be as tough as it's ever been in terms of the competition in our league.
I think there's some great coaches. Houston has done a great job at Ole Miss. They're going to have a great team. LSU is going to have an outstanding team. Les has done a fantastic job there of continuing the high-level winning at LSU. I think every team in our league, on our side of it in the West, has an opportunity to win the championship. Auburn has good players coming back. I think Arkansas, who developed into a pretty good team last year, got a lot of good players coming back, a new quarterback. I think that's what makes our league great. There's tremendous parity and there's a lot of competition.
If you're gonna win it all, you really have to have great competitive character and do it on a consistent basis, 'cause you have to line up and play every week and you cannot be up and down or you're not gonna sustain it in our league.
Q. Obviously, you have ties to Bill Belichick. Urban Meyer has also befriended him. Do you see any Belichick tendencies in Coach Meyer? What do you think he's been able to do to kind of turn Florida into the national championship program it's become?
COACH SABAN: I think, first of all, Urban is a great coach, surrounds himself with outstanding people, has a good staff. They work about as hard as anybody I know. I mean, we're kind of a blue-collar program. We have a tremendous amount of respect for that.
I know that Bill is like that. But I think Urban was like that before he ever met Bill. I think that's why they have a tremendous amount of success in recruiting, and they do a phenomenal job of developing the players that they have.
So I can't make any comparisons to know what their relationship is. I don't know that. I know I coached for four years with Bill Belichick. He was an outstanding coach. I probably learned as much from him in terms of organization, football, management, defining roles so that people understand what's expected of them, as anybody that I've ever been around. Certainly, you know, his success proves that what he does, the process that he uses, it's very effective.
Q. Wondering if you could disclose who you voted for for quarterback for the all SEC team.
COACH SABAN: I voted for Tim Tebow. I think he's one of the most outstanding leaders I've ever seen in my coaching career. Certainly played fantastic game against us in the SEC championship game last year. I think he might be one of the most outstanding players in our league.
But I also think everybody should have the right to vote for whoever they want, and I don't think they should be criticized for that. It's what a lot of people have fought for in this country for a long time. So I don't understand why anybody would even be interested. But I guess it's somebody trying to create news. I wouldn't point any fingers about that, but...
Q. Could you talk about the development of Javier Arenas? What do you love about him that goes beyond football skills?
COACH SABAN: First of all, he is an outstanding competitior. You talk about a guy that's a perfectionist, works really hard every day to be the best he can be. I think he's one of the primary examples I would use of any personality on our team. And I think it's reflected in not his development as a return man, because he was outstanding at that in the first year, as well as last year, but his development last year into being an outstanding defensive back, and a defensive back that played multiple positions. Not only did he play corner, but he also played our fifth defensive back or star position, which is a totally different position, and did a really, really good job at that.
He continues with his knowledge and experience to become a better and better player. He's worked hard to get bigger and stronger and is a very physical player. I can't say enough about his competitive character and the kind of person that he is, how he affects the other players on our team with his example.
Q. As somebody who has coached in the NFL, I was wondering what your take is on Tebow's NFL prospects? Do you think he's talented enough to warrant a top-10 pick?
COACH SABAN: Well, you know, I don't think it's fair for me to judge that because I can't really judge who the other guys in the top 10 are. Being involved in the draft before, if you're not involved in the total body of work, it's very difficult to make those kind of predictions.
But I will say this: I think Tim Tebow is an outstanding quarterback, an outstanding leader. I have no questions about his ability to throw the ball. He made some outstanding throws in good coverage in critical times in our game last year in the SEC championship game. So I have a tremendous amount of respect for him as a quarterback, as a leader, as an athlete, in every regard. I think he is a winner. I think he will be a winner in the NFL.
But I think everybody needs to understand that the NFL struggles to evaluate people who don't do in college what they look for guys to do in the pros. And I don't think they should be criticized for that. It's a difficult evaluation when you play a little different kind of offense. I think Florida has a great offense. I think it's very difficult to defend. I think they do a great job of executing it and coaching it. So I'm not being critical.
But it is different. And that makes it more difficult. You know, a general manager sent me a letter saying, How are you learning all the spread quarterbacks, how the dynamics of the critical factors of the quarterback position have changed because this offense has changed, what are you doing differently to evaluate quarterbacks, because we're having a more difficult time evaluating players that play in that offense?
It affects everyone. The quarterback, as well as the left tackle. If somebody told me we don't know how to evaluate this guy because he's never played in a three-point stance because he always plays in a two-point stance because they're no-huddle, and they're always in a spread. So it's every position that is different from what they would like to see because they have a defined prototype they would like to evaluate toward. When you play in a different type of offense, it makes it more difficult to evaluate.
I don't think anybody is disrespecting him, I guess is what I'm trying to say. I think it's just a little more difficult to try to evaluate.
Q. Julio came in last year and made a strong impact as a freshman. You have another strong freshman class this year. What do you expect from Trent Richardson?
COACH SABAN: I didn't expect anything from Julio Jones last year, except that he focused on doing everything he needs to do to become a complete player. You know, don't focus on external expectations. Don't focus on how many passes you want to catch. What you need to do is learn what you need to do to be a successful player in this offense by becoming a complete player at your position.
That's the same advice that I would give to every one of our freshmen, which I've always given it to them. They need to focus on the things they need to do to become complete players at their position. If they learn to do that, then they'll be able to channel their abilities into something that will effectively help the offensive team. If they can do that and show the maturity to do that, then that will enhance their opportunities to play.
We do have some guys that probably could do that. We do have some need on our team and some areas that players may have an opportunity if they can show an ability to do that.
Q. With all the changes on the offensive line, do you try to find ways to get Star Jackson in the game?
COACH SABAN: Not really. We want to play the best players at every position. Every player on our team has to prove that they can go out there and execute what they need to do to play winning football at their position. And Star Jackson has outstanding athletic ability. But he needs to be able to go out there and execute and play winning football in our offense. I do think he is a player who can make plays with his feet.
But, you know, we don't feel like there's some other part of our team that's gonna make us change our philosophy to do something different than what we've sort of geared our whole group to trying to do.
Q. There was quite a stir in the lobby this morning when you came in. I'm sure you get that a lot, especially in this state. What is that like? Does it ever wear on you or get old?
COACH SABAN: Well, you know, my daddy always says, you know, you only have a problem if no one's asking for your autograph. So, you know, when there's not a stir downstairs, I got problems.
So we do appreciate the support. We appreciate our fans. We're glad to give back to our fans because they give so much to us. They certainly give a lot of positive self-gratification to our players, which is the most important thing. And we have a tremendous passion in the state of Alabama for football, at both schools that we have here, both outstanding schools. We have a tremendous amount of respect for that passion. We certainly want to do our part to satisfy the passion of our fans and give them some time when we have an opportunity to.
Q. How many takes did it take you to get your lines right in that movie you did and how was that experience?
COACH SABAN: You know, I had two in two days. I don't like to do stuff like this, but I did that movie thing on Friday, and I started Talladega on Sunday. And those two experiences were sort of out of body for me, both of 'em.
I really enjoyed the movie. It's not the takes that get you. It's the angles. You know, I learned something. When I come in the door to do the recruiting spiel, there's seven of us in the picture. You have to do seven takes because there has to be a wide angle, then there has to be a close-up on every person. When you watch a movie, you just kind of feel like they just kind of got it with one camera, you know, and it all works. When you start understanding that there's 90% of the movie is close up on somebody's face, and that didn't come from a wide-angle camera.
So it wasn't that the lines were bad, and the director was great. I wouldn't really say it that way. I would say it this way: He said, Say it however you wanted it. That made it easier.
Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw were fantastic people to work with. I had a very small part. Our team has already voted not to go see the movie. They don't want to endorse anything like that, that I was involved in.
But the Talladega experience was also interesting, you know, going to the drivers' meeting. A lot of people asked me about taking the picture with the Aaron Girls. I said, I was standing like this because Terry had a hook right outside the camera, she was ready to put a hook on me (laughter).
Q. Talk about the impact of the spread offense on defenses in college football.
COACH SABAN: Well, I just think that it's very difficult to defend. I think when the quarterback's a runner, you create another blocker, or a receiver that you have to cover. So that kind of creates another gap on defense. And I think that that's very difficult to defend.
But I think it's like anything else: the multiples of what you have to defend are what make it more difficult to defensive players. Just like in the old days when they used to run the wishbone. When you had to play against the wishbone, that was really different. So it was difficult to get the picture and look of what you needed to do to get your team prepared to be able to play against it.
I think to some degree the spread offense is the same way. A no-huddle offense is the same way. How do you get a scout team in practice to be a no-huddle team to get any kind of execution so that the defensive players start to develop the mentality they need to be able to change their routine and play without a huddle?
So I think the concept of the spread offense is outstanding because it makes the quarterback an 11th gap on defense, I always say. If you only had to defend that all the time, I think we could all get a little better at it. It's the multiple of the different things you see throughout the season that make it more difficult.
Q. Commissioner Slive indicated one of the things the SEC needed to do to continue to grow and prosper was for teams to avoid self-inflicted wounds, teams taking shots at other teams. Do you detect any of that? Do you see there's a potential for that?
COACH SABAN: I think we have a great league. I think everybody should respect our league. I think we're a great league because of all the individual components we have in the league.
Our focus at the University of Alabama is what we need to do to make our place a first-class organization and represent our university and our state in a first class way. What other people do really doesn't affect that. We have a full-time job trying to, you know, control that.
And I do feel like we should have a respect for the league and the other people in the league. I've never been critical of anything that anybody else does or says. And I think I agree with the Commissioner, because he has the best interest of this league in mind. We have a tremendous league. And I think that it takes respect on all of our parts for the members of that league so that we can stay that way.
Q. From a defensive point of view, when you're facing a quarterback that doesn't have much experience, how do you try to take advantage of that? At the same time with an inexperienced quarterback this year, how do you try to guide him through games until he gets that experience?
COACH SABAN: Well, you know, I think that everyone develops at a little different pace and rate, depending on their ability to learn the knowledge and experience, how they learn from their lessons. And I think specifically in our case Greg McElroy learns very quickly and has had some experience. But I also understand that until he makes plays in the game, he's not gonna fully have, you know, the trust and respect of all of his teammates, even though they really, really like him and they really like him as a leader.
I think the biggest mistake you can make in development of any new player, young player, inexperienced player, is give him too many things to do, and increase the multiples of the kind of mental errors that they can make.
I think that it depends, from a defensive perspective, who the guy is that you're trying to defend. If he's a smart guy, if you try to pressure him, you may enhance his chances of making plays because he understands it, he sees it, and his reads actually become a little easier.
If you try to play all coverage against him and don't pressure him and he's a good runner, he may hurt you with his feet.
So I think to really answer that question effectively, you'd have to know the specifics of who you were trying to defend.
Q. Been varying reports recently of players who either have left or are considering maybe leaving the program. Are you close to the 85 number, do you feel comfortable where that is right now? Would you classify such attrition are normal year-to-year stuff?
COACH SABAN: The last part of your question was?
Q. Would you classify such attrition as normal year-to-year operations?
COACH SABAN: We have a demanding program. I mean, when I say 'demanding program,' I'm not talking about football. We have a personal development aspect to our program that there's principles and values in the organization relative to developing a successful philosophy, creating the right kind of habits, thoughts, habits and priorities that are going to help you make good decisions, whether it's the Pacific Institute coming in, whether it's a peer intervention program that address behavioral issues, drugs, alcohol, gambling, spiritual development, how to treat the opposite sex, macho man stuff, running your mouth, getting in fights.
Most of the stuff you read about players having issues with come in some of those categories from that personal standpoint. We spend a lot of time trying to develop personalities on our team, characteristics that will help them be more successful, and they'll be more successful in life for having been involved in the program.
It is demanding. We have some players in our program who have not met those demands. We have the same kind of demands academically. We have one of the highest graduation rates in the SEC and in the country, and that's going north for next year because we'll have even more players graduate next year in our program.
But we have a demanding academic system in terms of player requirements, in terms of what they need to do. There are players that don't meet that. And we have the same thing in football. But none of these players are leaving because of the kind of football players they are from our standpoint. There may be some player who leaves because they're disappointed and don't think or don't have the confidence that they can play.
So if we have attrition for any of those areas, and I tell the player, I don't want you to leave, you're a good person in the program, you're a good student. You may be a backup player, but you have to be satisfied with your role on the team 'cause we don't want a player that's disgruntled or negative in terms of our team chemistry for selfish reasons because you're unsatisfied with your role. If you don't think you can achieve that here, I'm supportive in helping you go someplace else.
I don't know how these things get out. But I only address these things when we start fall camp. We still have a couple players who could or couldn't qualify. We have quite a few players who have already enrolled in school. This is from a young player's standpoint. We have some players who will be grayshirted and know they will be grayshirted. And we have some players who are contemplating what their future's gonna be relative to the University of Alabama.
And we have some players who are being suspended, whether it's for behavior or academic reasons, and they won't continue at our school.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about the 2001 game between you and Kentucky and talk about the last play specifically.
COACH SABAN: Well, what I remember, most people don't remember the little things and the details of why things happen sometimes, but there was about a 30-mile-an-hour wind that day, and we were fortunate to be able to game manage to get the wind in the fourth quarter by the way the coin toss went and all that stuff. We practice these two plays every Thursday at the end of practice. I forget the exact seconds, but we ran the first play because we could stop the clock and gained about 15 or 20 yards. Hit Michael Clayton on an in-route, then had to go up top.
But the ball sailed and almost went 70 yards in the air because we had a big wind. The Kentucky players actually misjudged the ball. That's what created the tip. Devery Henderson was the key running guy that's supposed to play the tip. And it just worked out that way.
But what I remember the most from it was not that play. I've always been told by mentors, that the worst thing your team can do is play poorly and win. And we played poorly that day and won. And we got our rear-ends kicked in the worst defeat in all the time I was at LSU the next week because of that. That's what I remember the most.
So you didn't expect that answer, did you (smiling)?
Q. Talk more about what you want to see improvement on special teams. How has your team been so successful in scoring non-offensive touchdowns?
COACH SABAN: The second part of that first. You know, I think defensively last year, we scored four or five touchdowns, fumble recovery, a couple interceptions running back for touchdowns, those types of things. I think we scored three touchdowns on special teams or thereabouts. I'm not a big statistical guy. Don't think I'm misquoting something. You can look it up.
I think there was something like eight non-offensive touchdowns that we scored last year. I think we want to be a physical team that puts a lot of pressure on the other team, especially on special teams and defense, in terms of style of play. And I think when you score points that probably means that you did that.
But where we weren't real good last year, or as good, is we weren't as good on our coverage teams, our kickoff coverage, which was first or second in the league the year before. Slipped dramatically. I think we have five true freshmen on our kickoff team last year, and early in the season especially we weren't very good. I think we missed some field goals last year that sort of affected our efficiency there.
Our net punt was okay. Our punt return was okay. But it was really kickoff and kickoff return that were the two areas that affect field position. We weren't very good on kickoff return and we had slipped on kickoff coverage. That's where drive starts occur. That affects field position in the game. Those are two areas that we need to improve on dramatically.
Q. At a time when you're usually wearing the Alabama colors, did it give you pause when you had to put on an LSU coaching shirt knowing the movie would be seen by Alabama fans later on?
COACH SABAN: I'm hopeful all of our fans will understand that the movie is an historical event. When this happened and it occurred, that was the part of history where I was. I think we all try to represent that. Fred Smith called me. I wasn't gonna do this. And out of respect for the Touhy family and the player involved, who we recruited and liked, was glad to see do so well, become a first-round draft pick and graduate and do all the wonderful things that he accomplished, I think it's a great example to college football and college football players, and Ole Miss' program that all these things were done. I think it's a wonderful story.
So, you know, it is an historical event. It's no disrespect to anyone. It's no disrespect to LSU or anybody involved at LSU. We have special memories of the times and things we accomplished there. Nothing that can ever happen is going to change that from Terry and I's standpoint. We have a tremendous amount of respect for our fans at the University of Alabama. I have not heard one negative comment about that particular situation because it's not reflective of where I am now.
You know, I was asked last year when we played at LSU to go to Michael Clayton's induction into the Hall of Fame at his high school. I just very simply explained to the players that I'm gonna be here for all of you guys, too. The guys that have played for me in the past, I have a special loyalty to, just like I will have a special loyalty to you. And when you ask me to do these things in the future, regardless of my circumstances professionally, I will be there to support you, just like I was for Michael Clayton and any other player that has played for us in the past.
So no one finds any disrespect in all that. There's certainly none intended to any institution. I think it's just a matter of professionalism that we want to do it in the right way for LSU, as well as the fans at the University of Alabama.
Q. You were involved in a great football game in the SEC championship. That game came down to dominating Florida in the third quarter, but somehow in the fourth quarter Florida was able to shift the momentum. Looking back on that change in momentum, what do you think happened? What do you see when you look at that fourth quarter? Urban said maybe two of the greatest drives he's ever been around.
COACH SABAN: We had good football players, they had good football players. It was a great competitive venue to see the way they were playing. That was a great football game. It's a great experience to have the opportunity to be a part of it.
But Tim Tebow and the Florida players sort of rose to the occasion and finished the game like you need to. To win a difficult game, especially a championship game. We have a tremendous amount of respect. And it wasn't that our players didn't do it. I mean, Florida didn't win the game on our lack of execution. They won it because they executed and did the things they had to do to win. That's a compliment to them. It's not a disrespect to our players, because I'm not ashamed for a minute the way we competed in the game and the way we tried to finish the game. They made the plays they needed to make.
That's how you really would like to win games, you know, on your execution, not the other team's lack of it. That's why that's a great game, because both teams competed so tremendously for 60 minutes in the game.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you.
COACH SABAN: Thank you. I would like to say that, you know, I certainly have a tremendous amount of respect for all that you do for college football. You are the conduit to the public for all the players and all of our programs. We have a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation for what you do to promote college football and to provide a lot of positive reinforcement for a lot of young people who play college football. We thank you for that.
End of FastScripts