Alabama Football Coach Nick Saban Teleconference
Nick Saban on Ole Miss win, Georgia State, Paul Finebaum and Targeting Penalty
By Hunter Ford
In his weekly SEC teleconference, Nick Saban began by briefly revisiting the Ole Miss game and ended praising radio personality Paul Finebaum. In between, the Tide coach also had nice things to say about this week’s opponent, Georgia State.
Saban restated a previous comment about the Ole Miss game, saying the win over, “a really good team,” was a “big step forward,” for the Tide. “It wasn’t always pretty,” he added.
Moving on to Georgia State, Saban said: “We respect our opponent this week, but the focus has to be on everybody getting better, on fundamental improvement, on ability to do things a certain way and take them into the game based on how you practiced. That’s what we have to improve on.”
Georgia State football is in its infancy, having only played four football seasons. Saban was asked how the Panthers could build its program.
“First thing is to develop basic fundamentals of the program,” he responded. Saban said the Panthers should “define the goals of their program” not only on-the-field, but in terms of academic and personal development. He said goals need to be “realistic” but “far-sighted” enough to envision success on a higher level. Saban said it takes “a lot of people,” and “a lot of hard work.”
Saban said Georgia State has made strides in recruiting good athletes and “does really good things as a team.”
Saban was asked about the Tide’s strength and conditioning program.
“We’re kind of old fashioned in that regard,” he said. He explained that his program has a vigorous off-season work-out program, dubbed “The Fourth Quarter Program” to instill “work ethic,” and “discipline.” He praised strength coach Scott Cochran for a “fantastic” job overseeing the program.
“We’ve had a lot of players here who have made a lot of progress physically,” Saban said. He said those players serve as an example to younger ones. “‘If I work hard I can develop in a way that can change the way I play’.” Saban said.
Asked about the Tide’s presence in the Atlanta area, playing in several Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classics, Saban said his program has taken advantage of several opportunities to play in neutral site games from Jacksonville, to Dallas, and Atlanta.
He said the neutral site games give the Tide “national exposure” and “local exposure in those areas.”
“We’ve played a lot of games in Atlanta,” he said. “And I hope we get to play, you know, a few more.”
Nick Saban On Paul Finebaum:
Longtime radio personality Paul Finebaum was a fixture on Birmingham and regional radio for more than two decades. He recently took a job working for ESPN out of Charlotte, and will soon be featured on the SEC Network. Saban was asked about Finebaum’s move.
“I can’t speak for Paul (about whether it was a good move)” Saban said. “He’s one of the more acutely aware guys in college football, I can speak to that.”
Saban said he has a “friendship” with Finebaum, going back to Saban’s days as the coach at LSU. Saban said he has “used” Finebaum on occasions to “brainstorm” about dealing with public relations issues.
Saban praised Finebaum for his knowledge and understanding of the issues that face college football.
Regarding some of the callers to Finebaum’s show, and their often passionate views, Saban said he doesn’t get caught up in negative or positive feedback from callers. “You can’t please everybody,” he said. Callers’ opinions are not a “reflection of Paul Finebaum and his professionalism,” Saban said.
Saban said Finebaum has created a lot of interest in Alabama football, Auburn football, the SEC, and college football in general.
“I sort of respect that.” He said.
Nick Saban On Targeting Calls:
Saban reflected on another targeting call. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was flagged in the Texas A&M game and Eddie Jackson was called out in the Ole Miss game. Both players avoided ejection from the game.
Saban said Clinton-Dix was involved in a much faster “bang-bang” play, and that Jackson actually had a chance to pull away at the end of his play.
Saban said he believes players can still be aggressive, but have to be mindful of the targeting rule.
“I don’t see them being less aggressive,” he said. “I just see them being more aware of ‘Hey, I’ve got to see what I hit…I can’t hit the guy’s head…I can’t launch on an unprotected player.’ I think that’s a good thing.”
Saban said, “Everybody’s aware of the consequences of the foul.”