Saban, McCarron Passing On NFL

Nick Saban

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron said that he was not going to the NFL following this season. And we thought we had heard Nick Saban say the same thing. Nevertheless, as the Crimson Tide returned to practice, and Saban returned to media accessibility, the subjects were rehashed.



Alabama is back on the practice field, preparing for the BCS National Championship Game against Notre Dame on Jan. 7. Perhaps because the game is going to be played in South Florida, from whence Nick Saban came, and perhaps because of a tenuous thread spun by NFL media, the subject has been out there again this year.

Will Saban leave Alabama – where he has his team playing for the national championship for the third time in four years – for Cleveland? Or any other job as head coach of a professional football team?

The question was not asked bluntly. Rather, Saban was asked if his level of contentment in the college game is as high as he has professed to be?

"It certainly is," Saban said. "We're really, really pleased and happy to be here. We've been able to accomplish a lot. But like I've talked about before this is a work in progress all the time. You've got to stay focused on the process to try to continue to make the next game the most important game, the next season the most important season, developing the team every year. We certainly look forward to those challenges."

He didn't leave it there.

"I'm not sure, regardless of what I say, that anybody believes what I say, because I say it all the time," he continued. "This is what we're happy doing. This is what we like to do. But nobody really believes that. So, you know, maybe it doesn't matter. I don't know what I have to say or do, but it's kind of funny to me.

"Plus y'all asked the wrong person.

"Miss Terry makes all the decisions about all this stuff anyway."

There was not as much doubt about the sincerity of Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron, who also announced that he would return to The University for his final year of eligibility in 2013.

Regarding that decision, Saban said, "We always have that issue here with several guys. We have several more guys that will have to make that decision. We don't press guys to make the decision. Some guys are more driven to do it than others. I think everybody's got their priorities of what's important.

"Philosophically, we think if a guy's going to be a first-round draft pick, from a business standpoint, he's certainly got a decision to make about what he does with his future. But it's in each and every guy's heart as to what he would do.

"We're certainly pleased and happy to have AJ back. I think AJ's decision was based on the fact that, with the quarterbacks, if you're not going to be one of the very, very top picks, one of the first few guys picked in the draft, where they're going to make an investment of you being the guy, where you'll develop as the guy, just like a couple of the guys have this year. Otherwise it's very difficult to develop because you don't get to play very much. If you play in college you can certainly have a better chance of improving and enhancing your draft status in the future in how you're evaluated.

"I think that AJ loves college football, he loves being here, he loves being on the team. He wanted to get this out of the way make an announcement right away that he's coming back. We're very pleased and happy. He made a good decision in what he decided to do."

Saban said he did not expect any other announcements by Alabama players regarding the NFL draft prior to the bowl game.

Saban did, however, have something to say about the future of a number of players. He pointed out that Alabama football players come to The University "to try to continue to develop the kind of personality and personal characteristics that are going to help them be successful in life. Graduating from school and developing a career off the field is certainly one of the things that we emphasize here and have great success and history with."

Saban had been to Saturday's winter commencement last Saturday in order to see 11 players receive degrees. And it was a little extra special for him because his son, Nicholas, also received his degree.

Saban said, "I'm always here and we always have a luncheon with the families and I take pictures of everybody that graduated. But I went to graduation and I was really proud to see that many guys."

Including players who earned degrees prior to the start of the season, there are 17 men who will be on Bama's roster at the bowl game who have earned degrees.

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