Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban National Signing Day 2013 Press Conference Transcript (courtesy of UA Media Relations)
“I think that signing day is combination of a lot of hard work from a lot of people. The assistant coaches do a good job supporting the staff and that this organization does a good job. Our administrative and our community does a good job of supporting us in every way, from Dr. Bonner to Dr. Witt, to Mal Moore, to just about everyone involved. The university faculty does a good job visiting each weekend, visiting with guys doing academic appointments. We have a tremendous amount of people here that contribute to the success that we have in our recruiting program because it’s all about personal development, academic success and guys having success on the football filed that they would like to have. Our coaching staff obviously spends a lot of time, energy, travel, evaluation and cooperation through high school coaches with people that are trying to help young people be successful. All these things are really important in the combination of having a good recruiting class.
“I think everybody probably would say we like the guys that we got. We had a good recruiting year, but again I think it’s hard to make predictions about the guys you recruited today, and where they are going to be two or three years from now. We certainly like the guys that we got; they have shown a lot of potential to this point. They have been very successful in their production and performance. We feel like we have a very good character class, which is important to us and we have a lot of guys that have the kind of size and speed that we want to play the positions that we recruited them for. In some cases we recruited athletes, but in this recruiting class it’s really not about rankings that can’t really get verified in the future.
“It’s just like when you buy stock today you can’t really verify where it’s going to be two years from now. It comes back to that character that we talked about, the commitment to a standard of excellence, the work ethic and the relentless quest to improve. It’s really everything these guys need to do to enhance their development, because it’s very important to this group becoming a great recruiting class. That gets determined by their performance, and how they develop, and how they continue to develop down the road, which we as a coaching staff are responsible for. That’s what we are here for. We are pleased with the class both academically, athletically and from a character and attitude standpoint.
“I think it’s really appropriate for me to talk about the great fan support we have here, along with the great enthusiasm. Also from the support we get at all of our games, the atmosphere and the environment we have created from the passion we have here with our fans. Each and every one of these guys probably came to at least one game. They saw that and they wanted to be a part of that. They also came to other games that they saw at other places where our fans showed up and are very supportive of our team. That positive energy makes a huge impact on our ability to be successful here. Also our players are someone else who does a great job of serving in the recruiting process in terms of their time and attention toward the young people. I think it’s important that every guy that was committed to us signed with us today. I know on days like this, we only have so many spots.
“We feel really good about the guys that we were able to attract here. It’s sort of the reality of recruiting that things will happened this way. I wish we could give more opportunities to more people, but we all understand the rules that we have to live in that we have created, which are very fair for all of us. You can’t get every player because it’s just not going to happened. I really do want to thank all the people who contributed to this recruiting class, whether it’s the university community, the academic staff, our coaching staff and the people here in the athletic administrate that all contribute to the success of recruiting. These people are who set the table for us so that we have the kind of facilities and the things we need to have a first-class program. It goes back to the same old, just because you buy the puppy dog with the biggest feet, doesn’t meet its going to grow up to be the biggest or best hunting dog.”
On the running back position:
“I don’t really see how we have a stacked group at running back. We have one guy coming back that rushed for a 1,000 yards. We have another guy that carried the ball a few times as a freshman, and two guys that got hurt that may or may not be able to come back and play that position very well. To me, to have really good depth at running back, you need five really good players. Three of those guys usually play a lot, so I know in your guys little fantasy football world you put these guy’s names down, but there are circumstances. I think a lot of these guys are going to have a good opportunity to contribute next year.”
On this year’s class and having the diversity of 13 different states being represented:
“I think that with all the information that is available now, it’s probably is a little easier to know who the best players are on a national scope. Our best opportunity to land good players is probably going to be within a five-hour radius. We are still going to be able to get guys from other places because they are attracted to our conference, the competition, the games we play in, the success we have had, the opportunity they have academically and for personal development which is something we pride ourselves in being able to do as a program. I think if you had to do this by getting in a car and running around like I used to do when I recruited, you could never figure out who the best players are in places such as Oklahoma, Nebraska, or California. Now that there is so much information, it’s not hard to identify. I think the players are a little bit more global in the way that they select their schools now, especially with the opportunity that they are looking for. We feel like our state is very important. We feel that it’s very important to do a good job over the top, in terms of knowing who the best players are and which one of those players has some interest in Alabama.”
On QB Cooper Bateman, QB situation in general:
“I think it’s critical that some player that we have, either in the organization now or that we just recruited can develop into a potential starter for when AJ graduates. AJ’s done a great job here for us; he provides good leadership and I’m sure he’ll help the development of these guys by the way he prepares and how he practices, and he’s always been really helpful in trying to help other people develop at his position. We thought that we wanted to recruit two quarterbacks. Luke was a welcome addition because we had recruited him, so we don’t think we have too many guys there. But you know, the way opportunities go, is it doesn’t happen by seniority. You probably look at it like ‘well, this guy’s been here the longest, so he gets the best chance.’ If he’s been here the longest, he’s already had the most chances. If he hasn’t taken advantage of those opportunities, then somebody else has a turn at getting those chances. I think that’s how we’ll manage the position a little bit so that we’ll see if some of these young guys can sort-of develop the way we’d like to see them.”
On Reuben Foster’s Twitter apology, character development:
“Well, we really think Reuben’s a good person and Reuben has a good heart. He’s certainly a good football player, but I think that he really felt bad in some ways; maybe by the way he handled his recruiting. I also think that all the media attention sometimes can affect these guys in maybe not the most positive way. But at the same time I think that Reuben would like to please everyone. And I think that he learned in this process that that’s very, very difficult – and probably impossible – to do and I think that’s probably what he feels bad about. But because he does like to please you, is one of the reasons that he is a very good competitor. So some of these things that turn out to be, or appear to be, not good qualities actually can be very good qualities if channeled in the right direction, and I think Reuben came here because he wanted the structure, he wants to get it right, he wants to do things the right way and we want to help him do that. I think he’s got the right heart and the right character to do it. I would hate to think how I would have managed the attention that he got, and a lot of these young people get, when I was 17 or 18 years old. I just don’t know if I would have been nearly mature enough to be able to manage it the way sometimes people expect it to be managed, especially – and you know I love the media, and you know I would never ever put any of this on you all – for creating some of the circumstances that you create that are very difficult for these young guys to manage.”
On recruiting strategy with changes in the game:
“Well, we didn’t change the recruiting strategy. We define the kind of players that we want, and they have critical factors at each position. I think we added fast-twitch, pass-rushing athletic guys to the defensive line category as being a higher priority because of spread offenses, more spread offenses, more athletic quarterbacks – those types of things, the same things that NFL teams are talking about when they play against RG3 or Kaepernick or Russell Wilson from Seattle, who are athletic and run the ball. We have to be able to adapt to that kind of athleticism and that means we have to be more athletic to do that.”
On if incoming players will affect CB depth:
“Well, I think that one of the primary objectives of this recruiting class was to satisfy some of the needs we had at corner. All four DBs that we recruited are guys that we feel like can play corner. They may be able to play safety, but we feel like they can play corner and we’re certainly going to try to develop some of those guys to see if they can do that, and we feel like each one of them have the ability to do it. We tried to get little bigger guys maybe that had a little more size potential that can play a little more physical, because we see more and more big receivers. We’ll see how these guys develop, but we certainly liked what we saw in these guys and we’re certainly hopeful that they turn out to be all that they can be, because there’s another opportunity there for some of these guys maybe to contribute to next year’s team. We’ve had freshmen play here in the secondary before and do a good job, and maybe some of these guys can do the same thing.”
On if the class was finished as of right now:
“It may or may not be. I mean we’re open-ended. We would only add something to the class if it satisfied a need for us or the guy was a special player.”
On reaction/emotion of coaching staff on days like NSD:
“Well, I think I get most of my excitement from when a guy makes a commitment because we believe in commitments. Maybe we have some old-fashioned values and most of the guys that commit really, really early, you almost expect that there may be some bumpy road ahead because eventually the guy will probably want to go look someplace else or whatever, may decommit, which I don’t think is good for anybody. Maybe we should look at some kinds of rules in college football so that this does not become a one-sided sort-of deal. Right now, we make commitments to guys. If we ever change those, that’s like taboo – can’t do it. But you all are happy when guys decommit and change commitments because it creates news. And you’re happy to write about it and give somebody attention for doing it. Well, none of that really is good, in my opinion, for the game. It’s not really good for the development of young people in terms of the kind of responsibility that you’d like to be able to sort-of have as part of your principles and values to their development, but it happens. It’s a part of the game so we all have to deal with it. But what I spend a lot of time on today is next year’s recruiting. I congratulate the guys when they call in, but I basically feel like other than a couple guys today, we felt really comfortable and confident with the guys that we had that were committed – that they would all end up signing here and that happened exactly that way. I think we’re all relieved when it finally gets done, but I spend a lot of time always on signing day starting on next year’s recruiting so it’s not what you think. It’s not the drama that you create. That’s for the fans, not for us. My nervous breakdown comes the last two weeks trying to get everybody where you want them to be, but I must admit I didn’t sleep really well last night. I think it was anxiety.”