Bama: Nick Saban
Bama: M. Williams
Bama: Barrett Jones
Bama: Damion Square
Miss: Hugh Freeze
Miss: Donte Moncrief
Miss: Mike Marry
UGA: Mark Richt
UGA: Tavarres King
UGA: Abry Jones
UGA: Jarvis Jones
UT: Derek Dooley
UT: Tyler Bray
UT: Ja'Wuan James
UT: Herman Lathers
Texas A&M Football

SEC Media Days: Saban, 'Bama headline Day 3 interviews

July 19, 2012

Alabama, Ole Miss, Georgia and Tennessee wrapped up SEC Media Days Thursday in Hoover. Gull-length video from coaches and players of all four teams is included above. Nick Saban quotes from his big-room Q&A are posted below.

Alabama's Nick Saban

Great to see everyone, great to be here. You know how excited I am looking forward to this event. The fact that they moved it up a week made me have a great summer and I hope you've had a great summer (general laughter).

Having success in the football program can have two effects. You can demand more success or you can get complacent and be relaxed about what you've accomplished, thinking more about what you did than what you're going to do. It's human nature to relax, but there are examples of successful people ... consistency should be defined in performance. There have been people who were successful over a long time. We've learned at Alabama that you have to stay on top of the little things. Things don't happen by accident. You don't win a game or a division by accident. You have to make it happen by what you do every day. The standard you have set for that organization becomes key to the development of team chemistry. If everyone doesn't buy in to the standard, you won't have the chemistry to achieve on a high level.

Mediocre people don't like high achievers and vice versa, so everyone needs to buy in. This team seems to be less affected by what's happened in the previous year. They're not really the 2010 team, they're not really the 2011 team. There are guys on team that have opportunities this season. There are guys who were on those teams. But this team seems committed to creating an identity for itself. It's very difficult in college football to carry momentum over from one season to the next. You lose 25 percent of your team. And that's an understatement for us this year. The 25 percent you bring in new doesn't have experience.

You have to create your own momentum by what you do. Everybody has a new role. We have people who have new opportunities, an opportunity to make this their team. Everybody embracing those new roles is important to have a team that reaches its full potential. It's a shared responsibility. Role players might have to become leaders and help the team with that leadership, and young players have to accept that leadership.

This 2012 team will be defined by what they do. What we do, not what we've done. We're looking forward to the challenges of the 2012 season.

Q: You had a number of young receivers last year who contributed. Do you see within that group a playmaker that you lost in Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks?
A: All those guys proved when they got an opportunity that they can make plays. And they made outstanding plays in the championship game. They had a great spring. Amari Cooper is a young guy who showed ability and talent to make plays. But these are the things I'm talking about. How are these players going to embrace the opportunity and make this their season? I'm pleased with how these guys seem to have accepted that.

Q: Every year freshmen stand up and surprise. Who are the freshmen you think have what it takes this year?
A: I really can't predict that. Every year we do have freshmen, I think everybody in the league does, but I personally don't have enough foresight to predict who that might be. It might be the guys who were in spring practice because you saw them compete and they had chances to show what they can do. But it's a bit unfair to put expectations on incoming freshmen without having coached them and seen how they develop. But we have a good class of freshman players and I do think some of them will make a contribution to our team, and that may be critical to our success.

Q: How are you a different coach than you were five years ago?
A: I think as a coach, at least from my standpoint, we learn new things all the time. From new experiences, from other people, from being a good listener in terms of what's helped other people be successful and even how technology has changed our game to some degree, how we adapt to the players and the team, the personalities and strengths we have to work with ... all those things change you a little bit each year as a coach. But I don't think the core values of what's important to be successful has changed at all. That's the importance of everybody buying in and defining, personally, academically, the standard so that everybody can meet it. That's important to being successful.

Q: Can you speak to the importance of having returning experience on the D-line?
A: I think experience is important at all positions. The experience players have can influence the development of those around them. The fact that we do have some D-linemen who have experience, everything starts up front, and those guys can make the linebackers' job a little easier if they do the things they're capable of doing.

Q: Can you talk about your relationship with Gary Pinkel and how his program will do in the SEC?
A: I think he's a great coach and did a great job at Toledo. I did recommend him for the job when I left because I felt he'd do a great job, and he did. I know he's up here bragging because he's younger than me, but there are guys in this league like Steve Spurrier that are older than me and I look up to (smirk). But Gary's done extremely well and they have a good team that will compete in our league.

Q: Can you comment on Barrett Jones' career moves from tackle to guard and now center and what kind of versatility that takes?
A: Because of the kind of person and athlete Barrett is ... I was asked today if anybody else could do it so consistently at that level. I think it's because Barrett is a good athlete and he's not affected by change. The only similar lineman I've been associated with would be Bruce Matthews of the Houston Oilers. That's the only guy I can remember. Barrett Jones has been an outstanding leader for our team and his academic record is as good as anybody I've ever been around.

Q: What was the attraction and thinking of the opener against Michigan in Cowboys Stadium?
A: We've had a lot of national exposure that's helped enhance our program, by playing neutral site games against good competition. Whether it was Florida State in Jacksonville our first year, Clemson and Virginia Tech in Atlanta, now going to play Michigan in Dallas, West Virginia and Virginia Tech the next two years, these are the games you look to for national exposure. Games like this in the beginning really enhance your players' preparation in the offseason because they know they're going to play a real good team right off the bat. Michigan's going to have an outstanding team and it'll be a challenge for us this year.

Q: What do you think the game of college football in the SEC looks like in 10 years?
A: ...Well, that's one I haven't thought about (stoic face). I think Mike Slive and the leadership we've had in the SEC has been fantastic, whether it's the TV package we've had to enhance the league's exposure, the foresight we've had in some of these issues — how many players we're allowed to sign, a four-team playoff and how to affect college football in a positive way — our league has been at the forefront from a leadership standpoint and that's why the quality of this league has sustained success over time. I don't see any reason we won't continue to do that if we maintain the same kind of leadership Mike Slive and his staff have provided us.

Q: Do you see an end to kickoffs in college football?
A: I think all these rules are geared toward player safety and I think that's something we should always evaluate in our game, implementing rules that don't change the integrity of the game but enhance the safety of the players. With the kickoff being moved up, we might see less kickoffs. But there are facts out there. We tried to change the three-man wedge; there are facts out there that support that there might be more injuries on kickoffs. I don't think there's any question that a player's helmet coming off is a problem. I don't care if it's a style issue or what it is, a player needs to wear his helmet properly and it needs to fit properly. It's never a good thing when it comes off. To manage that for player safety would be real good for our game.

Q: General feelings about Penn State?
A: Yeah, well, I don't really have a lot of feelings. A very criminal thing that occurred there. I think of things like this with players a lot.

We all think that discipline is punishment. How are we going to punish someone? But I always try to think, what do we want the outcome to be? If there's some kind of way we can create a win-win — and I don't really know what that is, I just threw out a tax on athletic tickets at every event and donating it to organizations that prevent child abuse — where it's more about that than about punishing someone. Good idea, I shouldn't have said it, but I always think that the better outcome is one that creates a situation in the future that might be better for someone.

Q: How is Eddie Lacy coming along?
A: He's done extremely well over the summer. All our injured players are doing well and would be cleared for practice today if we started today. We're trying to get their conditioning level to where they can play a role on our team. We're going to have a couple running backs that create competition, but we've never been just one back. We had Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson sharing it. Hopefully we'll find someone as productive as them to share the role sometime in the future.

Q: You mentioned commitment and doing things right and people working together. A big topic locally has been the Board's idea not to allow UAB to have an on-campus football stadium. What are your thoughts about that? Have any opinion?
A: No, I really don't. I haven't thought about it. It's not my place to make those judgments. I don't feel I'm qualified to have an opinion on whether UAB should have a stadium or not. We have a chancellor and others that should be making those decisions. I'm certainly not someone who's capable of doing that at all. I'm sorry, but I'm just not.

Q: You favor a nine-game SEC schedule. Would that make it more difficult in this league?
A: Here's the priority: Every player at every school should have the opportunity to play every SEC school in his career. It doesn't have to be nine games, but what other scheduling format allows us to do that? Everybody's got a self-absorbed opinion about why we shouldn't do (a 6-2 format) because they won't get bowl eligible or whatever. I don't think the difficulty of schedule would be any greater. If you are one of the best teams in the league, it'd be an opportunity to prove it. I just think the number one priority should be that every player get to play every team in the SEC. That's more important than being division-oriented.

Q: In the wake of what Commissioner Slive said about no one man having too much power at an institution, what do you say to the perception that Alabama football might be too big?
A: It's not true, if that's the perception. I have tremendous respect for our athletic director and chancellor and how they run the program. When we have someone who doesn't do what they're supposed to do, those decisions get made by people who do what's in the best interest of the university.

That's handled in a proper manner. It's certainly not my decision and my decision alone. I have tremendous faith and confidence in our institution that we'll do the right things to promote the moral obligation we all have to protect other people and to make sure that people in our organization are sort of assuming the responsibility they have to represent it in a first-class way.

Q: Do your former assistants Will Muschamp or Derek Dooley ever consult you about aspects of the job?
A: I have tremendous respect about all the coaches that have ever worked for me and I'm happy to see them have the opportunities because that's what they worked so hard for. We would not have had the success we had without the coaches that have worked for us in the past. I have tremendous respect and appreciation for what they've done for me. So when they do call and we talk about college football or ways to enhance their programs, I try to do everything I can to help. I'm in favor of everyone having a good program. I don't agree that you have to dislike someone to compete with them. I want to help all my former assistants have a good program for their players. That's what college football is about.

My dad always said that you should try to win the game based on your execution, not the other guy's lack of execution. So that's how we approach it. That's what we try to emphasize. And we appreciate the contribution those guys have made over the years to our success.

Q: In your opinion, how has Derek Dooley done?
A: He's done a good job. He inherited a tough situation, a lack of continuity probably created a difficult situation in quality of personnel and depth. He's done a lot to create stability there. He had a bad stroke of luck last year when he lost a very good quarterback and receiver and it reduced their ability to win a couple games. We have a real positive respect for the way they coach and what they do and how their players compete and the way they play. I look for them to have a much better team this year and I think Derek is going to do just fine in the future at Tennessee.

Q: Talk about Mike Williams and Damion Square, the D-lineman.
A: The way we tried to select who came to SEC Media Days with us, we don't have a lot of seniors this year. These guys may not be considered star players, but they are seniors and their role is very important to the development of our team. I thought it was imperative that we bring some senior guys who had contributed a lot to our success in the past and helped establish leadership for the future. They've played extremely well for us and given a lot to the program in more ways than on the field. They've handled their responsibilities academically and played well.

Q: Were there any differences between the first and second LSU games?
A: We analyzed the things in the first game we didn't do well or weren't prepared for and did things a bit better in the next game in terms of our execution. Our players responded to the first lost psychologically. They were really sort of geared in, locked in, focused on preparing and executing much better than they did the first time around. The quarterback played an outstanding game and defense executed extremely well. That was probably the difference in the two games.

Q: How much should being a conference champion matter in a playoff?
A: What fans want to see in a four-team playoff are the four best teams in the country getting in the playoff. You don't have to win your conference championship to get into a basketball Final Four. If you've played your way and you're ranked in the top four you should have a chance to play. That's what people want. We have a really strong conference and we may have two or three teams in consideration for the top five or six teams in the country. The possibility definitely exists that those teams won't be conference champions. One of our BCS champions the last few years wasn't a conference champion.

You prove the value of a team that loses a chance to win its conference championship, in overtime, to a very good team in LSU, and goes on to win the rest of its games, they've earned it. Kentucky and North Carolina play a basketball game and one loses, but everybody wants to see them again in the title game. In the NFL you might be a wild card and still win a Super Bowl.

To be honest with you: Anybody who's making a statement against conference champions is making a statement against the SEC or any similar league with that kind of strength.

Q: You mentioned A.J. McCarron's performance in the title game. How much better is the QB situation this year?
A: Any time you have an experienced quarterback, because of the knowledge you gain, there's so much about timing and leadership, executing with more consistency, having experience at that position always makes you feel a little better. The key for us is having to develop some depth at that position. But A.J. had a really good spring and hopefully he's poised to improve and have a really good year this year.
Discussion from...

SEC Media Days: Saban, 'Bama headline Day 3 interviews

Final piece of content ... headed home!
Notice how he purposely did not mention A&M?
Well done, by the way.
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