With fall camp almost a week a way, Alabama head coach Nick Saban is fulfilling some media obligations this week.
Tuesday morning Saban made an appearance on SportsCenter and was interviewed by Chris Fowler. His stop on the SC set was his first of a long day of ESPN appearances.
Before the segment began, ESPN ran a nice little Alabama promo that featured highlights from last year’s title game and ended with this one-liner:
“Does the road to the BCS National Championship start in Tuscaloosa?”
Then cameras zoomed in on Fowler and Saban, sitting on the lawn of the ESPN campus in sunny Bristol, Conn.
Before talking about the Crimson Tide, Fowler wanted to get Saban’s thoughts about changing the culture of college football in light of the sanctions thrown down at Penn State Monday.
As he said at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala. last week, Saban emphasized the importance of the chain of command at a university to make sure the right things are being done.
“There should be a shared responsibility of how things get done,” he said. “It’s important to the integrity of our game.”
Fowler then asked Saban if he thought college football coaches have too much power.
“We have an athletics director, a president and a chancellor who approve what we do as an institution and that’s how it should be. That’s how I like it to be. I don’t want all that power,” he said.
Keeping with the Penn State theme, Fowler asked Saban what he thinks of the road new Nittany Lions head coach Bill O’Brien has ahead of him in Happy Valley (both are Bill Belichick disciples, after all).
“There’s no question he has a tremendous challenge ahead,” Saban said. “I faced a similar challenge at Michigan State. They were on probation and the school had a less amount of scholarships. But you just have to manage day-to-day and have the players buy in to what you want to do at Penn State and not have them buy in to bowl games and the things they used to buy in to.”
Fowler then hit Saban hard, asking him if he’d take a Penn State player.
“The first thing I’d say to a player is this is not just about football. You’re at an institution to get an education. Think about your future,” he said. “But if somebody were interested in The University of Alabama, we’d certainly entertain what his interests might be.”
Once the topic of Penn State was out of the way, Fowler jumped into Alabama questions, like how this year’s team can avoid being like the one in 2010—a team that got complacent after winning a national title.
“There are two things that happen when you have success,” Saban said. “You either stay in the past of what you did and get a little entitled and satisfied, or success becomes addictive and you want more of it, and I think that’s what great players can do…that’s what we’re trying to infuse.
“We have younger players who haven’t experienced [winning a national title and the year after] and older ones who have experienced 2009 and 2010. The older players need to provide leadership to those who haven’t had this experience before.”
In regard to the strength of the Tide’s roster, Saban highlighted what he has on offense.
“[Quarterback] A.J [McCarron] is a guy who has proven he’s trustworthy to do the kind of things you need when you open up the offense and not make mistakes and turn the ball over,” Saban said. “It’s important for our team, with the offensive line we have coming back and A.J., to be that type of team [one that’s trustworthy and doesn’t turn the ball over].”
Though Saban doesn’t like to single players out, Fowler asked him to list a few whom fans should keep an eye out for this season.
“The challenge in college football is 25 percent of your roster changes every year and people just assume you have the same time this year as you had last year,” he said. “We have a lot of new players that will have a tremendous amount of responsibility.”
Saban followed by saying that freshmen T.J. Yeldon, wide receiver Amari Cooper and sophomore safety Vinnie Sunseri will be key newcomers.
Saban will be on different ESPN mediums throughout the day. Click here to see his schedule.
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