Alabama and South Carolina haven’t met for nine years, but there still will be some familiarity between the two programs when they square off this Saturday.

Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban hired South Carolina coach Will Muschamp as his linebackers coach while at LSU in 2001. Muschamp had already been in coaching for six seasons, but this was his first job in the SEC other than as a graduate assistant.

On Wednesday, Saban shared what traits of Muschamp’s he liked back when he added him to his staff with the Tigers. Saban said he “was always impressed” with Muschamp’s leadership, “ability to communicate with players” and his toughness. Saban also called the South Carolina coach knowledgable and bright.

Saban first became impressed with Muschamp when he showed up at LSU’s 2000 Peach Bowl and hired him shortly after that.

Muschamp coached under Saban at LSU from 2001-04 and then followed Saban to the NFL and the Miami Dolphins in 2005. Muschamp left the Dolphins after 2005 to return to college football.

Here are some other things Saban addressed in his press conference Wednesday:

  • On Landon Dickerson: He is a veteran player, has lots of experience from his previous school. He can play center or guard, that’s an asset. His leadership, his knowledge is good, very helpful to the other players. In a lot of ways, very positive.
  • On Chris Owens and Emil Ekiyor: Both players are practicing. Owens is probably more up to speed.
  • On Deionte Brown being out: We are just taking the guys we have here that are ready to play and doing the best we can… when guys come back we’ll do the same with them.
  • On Dickerson and him battling thru injuries during his career: Anytime a player shows signs of issues, whether it’s in life or academics, you addressed it… but I will say this about him, he is one of the toughest players I’ve seen in some time… his work ethic has been a good example for a lot of players on our team.
  • On Jeff Banks helping the kickers: It’s really important, Jeff does a very good with our special teams and our specialists. They have made significant improvements, maybe not played as well as we like in the game but there is still time for them to improve as we move forward.
  • On Brian Edwards and Shi Smith: Their skill guys are very, very good… those guys are good, one has size, one has quickness… it’s very challenging defensively to match up with those guys.
  • On Mark Dantonio: I think he is a great coach, he’s done a great job at MSU, very consistent program. Mark has great leadership skills, he recruits and develops and we hope he becomes the winningest coach in that program’s history… I think that’s a tremendous honor, he has been very committed to them and he’s done an outstanding job.
  • On Josh Jobe: I think both players are making a contribution to our team, in special teams and in the secondary. Jobe made some mistakes in the last game… but that came from maybe trying too hard.