BCS: Alabama Coach Nick Saban & players talk about making the big game

Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban BCS National Championship Selection Teleconference Transcript (courtesy of UA Media Relations)

“We are very, very, excited as a team, as an organization, as a university to be able to come to the Sugar Bowl (National Championship game). It is a great opportunity to play a great LSU team that is undefeated that we had a great college football game against – maybe one of the greatest college football games of the season. We have a tremendous amount of respect for them. I am very pleased and happy for our team to get the opportunity to play in the BCS National Championship game again. I really do think these are two great football teams and it will be a great football game.”

Why the game might play out differently:

“Just look at NFL games. You play all your teams in your division twice. Nobody seems to think too much about those rematches. You always play teams in the playoffs that you played in the regular season. Sometimes the teams that play in the Super Bowl have played each other before and all those games play out differently. It is two great defensive teams no doubt but there was a lot of offensive production in the game but people weren’t able to take advantage of the opportunities because of the good defense that was played. There were great plays made on both sides on defense so this could be a totally different type of game. I think there will be a lot of opportunities for the game to be completely different. It could have a completely different flavor than the first game did.”

About the style of the two teams:
“It speaks a lot for what we like to call old fashion football. If you are big, physical, you win on the line of scrimmage, even though both teams are capable of making explosive plays throwing the ball, you control the line of scrimmage of the defensive side of it, then you have a really good opportunity to win. I think these two teams that are in this game this year kind of proved that in terms of the style and nature of play. When you can do those things, you have a better chance to play more consistently by having a good defense and being able to have balance on offense and an offensive system that allows you to do that. Maybe that is why these teams can play with a little more consistency.”

Practice plan with long layoff:
“Our players have been working out. We probably won’t start practicing until December 19th or 20th. We will probably practice four or five times before Christmas and then give the players a few days off and then come back and practice another four or five practices after Christmas and then get into our regular work week for the game itself even though we may not be able to travel to the game until January 4th, which would be sort of in the work week.”

On LSU having an advantage with the game being played in New Orleans:
“New Orleans is in Louisiana and it’s an hour and a half away from Baton Rouge and there are a lot of LSU fans in Louisiana and I am sure our Alabama fans will represent us really well but it’s obviously going to be a little bit of a home field advantage playing in the Sugar Bowl for LSU. I was on the side of that when we played Oklahoma in the National Championship game in 2003. I thought it was a bit of an advantage for us.”

On the respect of the SEC:
“I think it speaks volumes for the kind of respect the SEC has. I think that comes from the body and quality of work that the conference has from top to bottom in terms of quality programs, good coaches, and lots of good players. One time this year in the western division we had LSU first, us second and Arkansas third in the whole national poll. For those people who say you didn’t even win your own conference, well how come nobody was rated higher than the top three teams in our division which is only six teams. I think it speaks volumes for the respect and quality that people have and I think people get a lot of exposure to the SEC because of the TV package we have, the games that are on TV and I think they see the quality of ball, quality of athletes and enjoy seeing that kind of football. I think it says a lot for our league and is a real compliment to all the institutions in our league, our commissioner Mike Slive, who has done a fantastic job of continuing to develop and make our league what it is. All the institutions have contributed to the competitive balance that we have in our league in football.”

On the time off helping with the health of the team:
“We are in a pretty good spot. I think in terms of injuries, a few weeks off always helps a team after a 12 game season. I guess the management of 40-some days between games is a bit bigger of an issue to be concerned about how you prepare your team for a sort of a one game season and how you prepare your team to come back and play after that long a layoff and get them to play quality football. Tackling is an issue when you have time off and you practice that so you can effectively go in and play the best football is really critical. So really the preparation for the game is most critical.”

Linebacker Dont’a Hightower
On receiving a berth in the BCS National Championship Game:
“We worked hard all season. All season long, we have had the mindset that we wanted to get in position to accomplish the ultimate goal and now we get the opportunity to do that. We will take the utmost pride in getting this opportunity.”

On having a rematch with LSU:
“It’s something we really wanted to have happen, ever since that game ended. So, to have the chance to get those guys back in a national championship game is something we are very excited about.”

On the opportunity to play for another national championship:
“We have a lot of guys that played in that championship game two years ago, and it’s something that we all want. We worked so hard to get it and now we need to go get it.”

Offensive Lineman Barrett Jones
On receiving a berth in the BCS National Championship Game:
“We’re really excited to get another opportunity to play in the national championship. I think when we did lose to LSU, this is what we wanted, we wanted another chance and we’re really excited about that chance. We have a big month ahead of us to get prepared for that game and we have a lot of hard work ahead of us. But I am excited. I think it’s going to be a really fun game, playing in New Orleans, and we’re really excited about the opportunity.”

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  1. 1

    Dear Coach Saban,

    Congratulations on your team making the BCS championship game.

    As i’m sure you know Coach, we’re accustomed to playing for championships around here.

    Those guys represented by the statues at Bryant-Denny stadium have taught us a few things about championship football.

    One, was paying attention to the details.

    Here’s a few off the top of my head for you to work on:

    (1.) If you win the toss of the coin, defer to the second half, kick the ball to them and play defense first. I won’t bore you with the details on why, just rest easy in knowing the other Statues were real big on that, so it must be important.

    (2.) While we’re on kicking, don’t kick to Tyrann Matheiu. It will increase our chances of winning exponentially.

    (3.) Teach A. J. to quik kick. I don’t know if you’ve noticed (no joke) but our punter sucks. Everybody says he’d make a great linebacker.

    Put his ass there.

    (Timely reminder time: don’t kick the ball to Tyrann Matheiu)

    (4.) According to the rules (I looked it up) you get 3 timeouts per half, but there’s a catch. The one’s you don’t use in the first half don’t rollover.

    (I know what you’re thinking: how is that fair, my cellphone minutes roll over but not my first half timeouts?! Sometimes Coach, life’s not fair)

    If you use them for nothing more than to contemplate the wisdom of dropping A. J. back to pass inside our own ten yard line, we’ll understand.

    Which leads me to #5.

    (5.) Don’t drop A. J. back to pass inside your own ten yard line. A. J.’s a sophomore. He doesn’t understand that he can’t drop back and hold the ball back there all day against one of the nation’s best defenses. He needs guidance from our offensive co-ordinator on this.

    (or maybe our offensive co-ordinator needs the guidance)


    Until he’s a junior or senior and has proven the ability to realize that, my advice is just hand the ball to our heisman candidate, Trent. if we don’t make a first down, punt the ba………wait, remember that quik kick thing??

    (6.) Did i mention don’t kick the ball to Matheiu??

    (7.) In the first half nov. 5th, Brad Smelley was a heck of a weapon for you. In the second half, he didn’t touch the ball. My advice?

    If you’ve got something that’s working in the first half, use it in the second half. There’s no rule against that. It CAN rollover!

    If something’s working, use it until they stop it.

    (the Statues were big on that too!)

    I know this is getting a bit long winded and you have things to do, so i’ll wrap this up as quickly as possible.

    (8.) Stay away from overtime. I don’t mean to hurt your feelings on this one, Coach, but the fact is your record in overtime ain’t that great. (in fact, it sucks too) If you were to find yourself one point down after scoring a touchdown late in the game and went for two and didn’t make it, you’d hear some grumbling from some corners,but I would understand.

    (9.) Should you ignore my advice (I know, perish the thought) and find yourself in overtime, tell A. J. to take the snap, turn and HAND THE DAMN BALL TO TRENT!

    (sorry. Didn’t mean to yell, Coach. I got excited)

    (10.) Just to make sure i’m clear on this, don’t kick the ball to Tyrann Matheiu.

    In closing, I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you were in the championship game against the best team in the nation. Of course that means they’re from the SEC. We’re not playing a team from the Pac 10 or the Big 12 or the Big 10 where the athletes and coaching are inferior to ours.

    You’re not going to be able to get away with the mistakes or depend on the opposition’s coaching errors of, say, the ’09 BCS championship game.

    These guys are good. Real good. It will require everything you’re asking of the players from the coaching staff and game plan as well.

    Coach Bryant let it slip one time that it was his sole responsibility to put his team in the best position to win.

    We’ve kind of taken that to heart around here.

    I don’t mean to pressure you, but we expect that of you too.

    In closing, don’t bother thanking me. I know your time is limited. Just trying to do my part as a concerned and loyal fan.



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