TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama coach Nick Saban appeared on the Dan Patrick Show Friday morning prior to the Crimson Tide’s fourth workout of spring practice.
In between being asked about Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines practicing in Florida during spring break, the topic of Alabama’s season opener vs. USC on Sept. 3 in Arlington, Texas came up. Asked how much influence he has in picking games for the non-conference schedule, Saban said he was “pretty involved.”
“I always have a say in who we play, and where we play,” Saban told Patrick.
Was it Saban’s decision to play the neutral-site game with USC?
“Oh yeah,” Saban said. “We’ve played the neutral-site game for nine years here, I think. At first, nobody really bought into the concept much except me because I wanted to do it to try to get some national exposure for the program which worked out really well for us.”
In Saban’s second year at Alabama in 2008, the Tide opened the season by routing Clemson 34-10. It was a game that Saban said “sort of got the program off the ground.” Since then, Alabama has had five neutral-site openers vs. Power 5 opponents (all victories). In the two years (2010 and 2011) Alabama didn’t open at a neutral site, the Tide played a home-and-home with Penn State (Alabama won both meetings).
The 2016 season opener against USC will mark the sixth time Alabama has started the year at a neutral site against a Power 5 opponent under Saban. Alabama is scheduled to open with Florida State in Atlanta in 2017, and Louisville in Orlando, Fla. in 2018.
“To play a really good opponent like USC early in the season helps your offseason program with your players,” Saban said. “It gives them something to really look forward to. You find out really early where your team is. The fact of the matter is if you’re going to lose in college football, the best time to lose is early on. So, you kind of find out where you’re at. I enjoy playing in those games, and I think our players do as well.”
In two sort of throw away questions, Patrick asked Saban if he was on any social media websites and how important social media was to him. Patrick also asked if Saban will attend the NFL draft in April.
Saban is on record saying that he has no plans of joining Twitter or anything else.
“Not much. I don’t Twitter, I don’t text, I don’t do any of that stuff,” Saban said. “We have a lot of people here that do. I think it is important in terms of communication. It’s the way people communicate now. It’s something that you really need to do a good job of communicating with young people the way they communicate.”
In the past, Saban has made the trip for the first round to congratulate the Alabama players taken. He did not attend last year’s draft.
“We certainly love seeing our players get the opportunity that they worked hard for,” Saban said. “It’s something that I’ve always enjoyed doing, and I’ll probably be there again.”
Alabama has had 17 players drafted in the first round during Saban’s tenure, including 14 in the last five drafts.