FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.--Five Quick Hits from Nick Saban’s final press conference.
1. After Thursday’s practice, Alabama’s leadership group decided they didn’t like the intensity or focus their teammates were bringing and called a players-only meeting. Sunday morning at his final press conference before the BCS National Championship game, Alabama head coach Nick Saban was asked to give his perspective on the aftermath of that meeting.
“We always have a players-only meeting. Every week our players do that,” he said. “We’re constantly trying to enhance the development of and responsibility that players have to affect other players.
“But since that time I feel really good about how our players have responded.”
2. Saban was asked what he thinks the team’s best quality is. His answer? “To be honest, I think this team has kind of exceeded expectations.”
He followed up by citing losing several playmakers and leaders from last year’s team, the injuries to a handful of this year’s starters, the adversity they had to overcome this season (LSU, Texas A&M and Georgia) and the new roles old and young players had to assume.
“I’m really proud of what this team actually was able to accomplish together as a group,” he said. “The team chemistry, the positive energy they had, the responsibility that everyone has kind of taken for their own self-determination and sort of doing their job, and the way this team has worked hard together to try to become a very good football team.”
3. Saban was asked how he became so attentive to detail. In a rare personal moment, the coach reflected on working at his father’s service station when he was a kid. He pumped gas there for 11 years. It wasn’t a self-serve, so Saban had to clean the windows, check the oil, the tires, collect money and treat the customers nicely.
“The biggest thing that I learned and started to learn at 11 years old was how important it was to do things correctly,” Saban said. “There was a standard of excellence, a perfection. If we washed a car, and I hated the navy blue and black cars because when you wiped them off, the streaks were hard to get out, and if there were any streaks when he came, you had to do it over.
“So we learned a lot about work ethic. We learned a lot about having compassion for other people and respecting other people and we learned about certainly the importance of doing things correctly.”
4. In last year’s national championship game against LSU, A.J. McCarron went 23 of 24 for 234 yards and was awarded the game’s MVP. This season, McCarron threw 26 touchdowns to just three interceptions.
Saban was asked how much confidence he had in his quarterback heading into last year’s game and how much he has in him heading into Monday night.
“We did have a lot of faith, trust and confidence in AJ last year in the game, and that’s something that I’m not sure we showed throughout the course of the year, but felt like we needed to have that kind of trust in him to be able to attack LSU’s defense at the time,” he said. “And I think that he’s playing against a very, very good defensive team this year, and I think his ability to make good choices and decisions is going to be a critical factor in how we do offensively.”
5. Saban was asked a question about stipends for scholarship athletes, as that will be a topic that will come up at the next NCAA convention.
”I don’t think there’s any question about the fact that something—and I don’t know the solution of how it gets done or what it should be—but I do think that something should be done to enhance the quality of life of student-athletes that are on scholarship,” he said. “Because in our sport especially, there is socioeconomic groups that struggle a little bit, even with a scholarship, because there is a cost associated with going to college that is beyond room, board, tuition and books.”
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