HOOVER, Ala. — Nick Saban made a grand appearance at the 2017 SEC Media Days on Wednesday.
The Crimson Tide head coach was first to speak on Day 3 of the annual media gathering, and he was greeted at the entrance of the Wynfrey Hotel by a crowd of anxious Alabama fans in the hotel lobby.
Here’s a recap of what Saban talked about during his appearance in the main ballroom on Wednesday morning:
- Saban opened by complimenting the SEC as the most competitive league in football. Referenced his time in the NFL, and said the league stacks up well.
- Saban said 101 Alabama players with degrees have played in bowl games during the last four years. “That’s way more than anyone else in the country.”
- “This is going to be one of the youngest teams we’ve had since 2012, especially on defense where we lost a ton of talented players.” Said it will be a big challenge to replace those players.
- Mentioned it is the first time he has had a returning starting QB since 2013. Saban said Jalen Hurts has had a good opportunity to “improve in the areas that he needs to get better.”
- “Brian Daboll has done a really, really good job as offensive coordinator.” Said players were really happy playing for him and that he’s “exactly what we were looking for” in an effort to return to a pro-style offensive attack.
- On Jeremy Pruitt’s first year as defensive coordinator after years of working with Kirby Smart: “Last year’s defense was probably one of the best we’ve ever had.”
- Saban on reassessing how he does things following a close national title game loss to Clemson: “When you lose, the mindset is much more ‘I’m willing to change. I want to learn.'” … talked about “not wasting the failure.”
- Update on starting RB Bo Scarbrough: “Bo has done all the work all summer long with no issues, so he’s really fine.”
- Said Shaun Dion Hamilton will have no restrictions going into fall camp.
- On new rule that penalizes coaches for coming onto the field: “We’ve always had a get-back coach. Some have thought we may need more than one.” He went on to say that he believes the examples SEC coordinator of officials Steve Shaw cited as reason for rule implementation were valid.
- In response to question on SEC becoming a one-team league thanks to Alabama’s winning ways: “I think there’s a lot of parity in our league.” Went on to praise each team in the league, mentioning LSU and Ole Miss first. Said he had a hard time thinking of a team he didn’t respect. Mentioned Vanderbilt making a bowl game.
- Said inside linebacker was the position he felt the team had the most depth coming back.
- On how to develop longevity as a coach: “Win.” Drew laughter, then talked about how his time in the NFL changed the way he thought about coaching and how he felt fortunate to find the right opportunity at Alabama.
- Said the NFL was about exploiting the matchups, college football is about exploiting the scheme. Talked about how NFL teams run same basic offensive principles, more diversity and things for defenders to learn in college football.
- Saban said Florida State is built like an SEC team:”They’re fast, explosive players. But they’re also a big, physical, play great defense, tough team. I think it’s probably Jimbo’s experience in this league that drove him to build his team that way.”
- Nick Saban called on Yankees All-Star Aaron Judge as an example of a person that may not have had an opportunity to have a career in football because he needed a few years in the minor leagues to develop. “What people don’t realize that football is the only sport without a developmental league.”
Saban concluded by thanking the media for how they cover his team, “even though you may not think I’m on your side.”