Kind words about Saban; Les Miles sucks & more

Adversaries and slackers hate him. He’s called a jerk or worse, but there are players and coaches who have nice things to say about Alabama’s Nick Saban. The St. Petersburg Times provides these insights into the Alabama coach. First, a former assistant coach:

Saban’s public persona isn’t often warm and cuddly, but those who know him well say that perception is way off the mark.

“It definitely is,” said Jimbo Fisher, now the FSU offensive coordinator who once worked for Saban. “He’s just a person who is very driven, he loves what he’s doing, and he has a way that he knows he wants it to be done, and he just demands that the folks around him are as dedicated to that as he is. If people aren’t, he addresses it. But I always respected that about him. You always knew where you stood. You knew what was expected of you. The man is very intelligent, and he always has a great a plan. … He’s one of the most organized and structured guys I’ve ever been around. Probably the most.”

Next, a former player.

Bucs receiver Michael Clayton grew close to Saban while a star at LSU. When Clayton’s high school number was retired a few weeks ago, Saban was in Baton Rouge to play LSU and attended the high school game.

“With Coach Saban, it’s all about accountability,” Clayton said. “He’s a players’ coach. He understands that players are going to make mistakes, but they can’t continue to make the same mistakes. He views that as a reflection of his coaching. So, when people see that demeanor, it’s just that he holds everybody accountable, including his coaching staff. He’s also a fiery guy. At times, he may get after a coach and it might look a certain way, but that’s just him. A lot of people perceive it to be negative, but you can look at it in a positive way if you want. He’s striving for full potential for himself and the team.

The profile includes additional perspective on Saban and the current Alabama team.

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Living in Saban’s shadow
The natives are restless in Baton Rouge. And they should be. The coach of the defending national championship team was as clueless as he looked and this year the talent wasn’t there to bail him out. Miles has already drawn comparisons to Gerry DiNardo and columnists are trying to squelch the outrage by giving LSU fans something they sorely need, perspective. Here’s a sample of what is going on in Baton Rouge.

LSU fans, LSU reporters, some members of LSU’s athletic department and of the Tiger Athletic Foundation and others in the LSU family basically canonized Miles after winning the national championship in 2007. They knighted him. Not only was he better than Saban, he was better than almost everyone…

Suddenly, Miles has to shape up his program and hire a new defensive coordinator now or he may be shipped out before too long. Now, many of the same people who so ardently defended Miles are comparing him to Mike Shula as opposed to Bear Bryant.

Rolando McClain Named Finalist for Butkus Award
Here is the press release on sophomore Rolando McClain being a finalist for the Butkus Award.

TUSCALOOSA – Alabama sophomore linebacker Rolando McClain has been selected as one of the 12 finalists for the 2008 Butkus Award, honoring the nation’s top collegiate linebacker. The winner will be announced the week of Dec. 8, 2008.

McClain is the leading tackler for an Alabama defense that ranks in the top five nationally in rushing defense (2nd), scoring defense (3rd), total defense (3rd) and pass efficiency defense (5th) this season.

“It is an outstanding honor to be chosen as a finalist for the Butkus Award,” McClain said. “Dick Butkus was one of the greatest linebackers to every play the game, and to have my name mentioned along with his is an honor. But our season hasn’t been about individual awards and I wouldn’t be on this list without my teammates.”

In 12 games, McClain leads the team with 82 tackles and 11.0 tackles for loss (-44 yards). He has 3.0 sacks (-22 yards), five pass breakups and two quarterback hurries. McClain has also recovered two fumbles – one he returned for a touchdown – and one interception this season.

The Butkus Award is selected by a 51-person panel comprised mostly of scouts, coaches and journalists, and coordinated by Hub Arkush of Pro Football Weekly. Selectors follow all rules of their leagues, including NFL coaches avoiding contact with collegiate candidates, and collegiate coaches avoiding contact and not voting on high school candidates.

“This Award is about honoring linebackers, and reminding them that they have a responsibility to serve as role models and to give back to society,” said Dick Butkus, the award’s namesake.

Considered one of the greatest football players in history, Butkus was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979, following an illustrious career with the Chicago Bears, University of Illinois and Chicago Vocational School. Meanwhile, his son Matt was a defensive lineman for the University of Southern California’s 1990 Rose Bowl winning team, and joins his father in philanthropic efforts. Butkus wants the Award to draw attention to the I Play Clean(TM) campaign, which aims to end steroid use in organized sports.

Joining McClain as finalists for the Butkus Award are Mark Herzlich (Boston College); Brandon Spikes (Florida); Rennie Curran (Georgia); Perry Riley (LSU); Darry Beckwith (LSU); Sean Witherspoon (Missouri); James Laurinaitis (Ohio State); Rey Maualuga (USC); Brian Cushing (USC); Clint Sintim (Virginia) and Aaron Curry (Wake Forest).