HOOVER, Ala. — Nick Saban is more than willing to share how much he respects every SEC opponent Alabama will face in 2017.
Well, seemingly almost everyone.
During his appearance at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Saban emphasized the “parity” across the conference rather than focusing on Alabama’s dominance. Though Auburn may be one of the teams with a chance to upset the Tide later this fall, the Tigers didn’t come to mind.
“Well, I have a tremendous amount of respect for a lot of teams in our league,” Saban said on Wednesday. “I mean, LSU is very, very good. Ole Miss has beaten us a couple times in the last few years. Mississippi State has got a good quarterback coming back. Arkansas’s got a good quarterback coming back. A&M’s always a very challenging team.”
After mentioning every SEC West team besides Auburn, Saban switched over to the SEC East and named several of his former assistants.
“I think Kirby (Smart) is doing a great job at Georgia. Jim McElwain is doing a good job at Florida,” Saban said. “Tennessee has gotten better and better every year.”
Of course, Alabama has defeated Auburn in three consecutive Iron Bowls and seven of the last 10 since 2007. The Crimson Tide have also won the last three SEC championships, with Auburn’s 2013 upset marking the last time Alabama hasn’t won the conference.
Still, though Saban didn’t mention Alabama’s in-state rival when he was center stage, he did make an effort to acknowledge SEC teams he didn’t specifically name.
“I am trying to think of somebody in our league that I don’t have a tremendous amount of respect for,” Saban said. “Vanderbilt went to a bowl game last year and had a winning season.”
The Iron Bowl is set for Nov. 25 and at Jordan-Hare Stadium.