Saban wants consistency from players, not Hulk-like transformations
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — University of Alabama coach Nick Saban is known for sending messages to his players through the media and Wednesday evening was a perfect example.
Saban’s last press conference before Saturday’s game at Arkansas (6 p.m. ET, ESPN) first took a left turn when he was talking about overcoming adversity and changed the subject to turnovers and penalties.
“The interesting thing to me is I’ve been talking about penalties all year long,” he said. “I would talk about penalties and turnovers after the Florida game. Nine penalties on offense. Three turnovers that led to 21 points. And no one spoke a word of it. No one spoke a word of it.
“All you did is put in the paper how many yards we got. Then we do the same thing and lose a game and now it’s, ‘Why do you get so many penalties? How come we’ve got so many penalties? Penalties are killing us.’ They were killing us before.”
That turned out to be just part I.
The coach appeared ready to go off on a major rant midway though giving a response about running back Altee Tenpenny getting more playing time, but instead ended a humorous note while making a superhero analogy.
“Here’s where I differ from everybody else when it comes to the questions you ask me because they’re exactly what I think sometimes players think,” he continued. “If I’m going to play, I’m going to do something different than if I’m not going to play. That’s not really what we need. We need every player on the team to go out every day and get better, and improve and play their best because our goal is that every player on our team be the best player they can be. Your attitude shouldn’t be any different whether you’re going to be the fourth back or the third back. Your approach should be the same because you should be striving if you’re fourth to be third and if you’re third to be second and if you’re second to be first. That make any sense to anybody besides me?
“That’s probably one of the biggest problems that we have is the guys that play, they really, really go out there and work hard and try to do everything they need to do. Then a guy thinks he’s not going to play doesn’t have the same mental energy, intensity, doesn’t prepare the same way. Guy gets hurt, he’s in there playing. So can he do his job like he should? You understand what I’m trying to say? I know you all think I’m crazy but that’s just how I think it ought to be, that’s how I think players should do it. That’s what I preach to them all the time.”
When reporters were allowed into practice earlier Wednesday, defensive line coach Bo Davis was very loudly making the exact same point to one of his players who wasn’t making the kind of effort he wanted, and suggesting he could instead join the scout team. The other coaches appeared to be fired up as well.
Saban then finished his press conference with the final question about redshirt freshman center Brian Bozeman, who is expected to start for Ryan Kelly (sprained knee).
He essentially laughed and said: “Because they got a chance to play, they’re like different people. I mean, it’s completely different. They don’t even look the same. I wouldn’t even recognize them on the street. They completely changed like, what was it, the Hulk. Was that the guy who changed? They play, they look like the Hulk. When they don’t play, they look like the guy that, you know, sells newspapers or whatever. I think I already answered that question. Golly.”