HOOVER, Ala. -- There's a surprisingly tiny throng of coach devotees in the lobby this morning, especially considering Alabama's slot in the first rotation of interviews. The obvious question: Are Alabama fans growing tired of Nick Saban? It has been more than six months since the Tide won a national title. Just something to think very, very seriously about.
Saban always begins his SEC Media Days appearances by thanking the media, with an appearance of sincerity we're not sure we could manage in his position. Even his gripes go down smooth: "The fact that they moved this up a week made me have a great summer, and I hope you had a great summer." He made this sound completely genuine. This is his power. Highlights from Saban's early Q&A session:
• BIG BREAKING NEWS: Alabama has had "a really good offseason." The Tide have some really good football players. You might have heard about some of them!
• ALSO BREAKING: "We've had a lot of national exposure that has really enhanced our program." Saban credited 'Bama's high-profile neutral site games with raising the Tide's national profile.
• Gary Pinkel, beware: Saban knows you informed the general public that you are younger than he is. Saban paid brief tribute to the league's older coaches, saying he looks up to Steve Spurrier and explaining why he doesn't wear a visor like Spurrier's on the sideline: "I'm afraid I'd throw it." Nick Saban's thrown visors could be shredded and sold as religious artifacts for a lot of money, it goes without saying.
• Iron Bowl mayhem aficionados, don't worry, Saban was talking about his assistants here: "The idea that you have to dislike somebody to compete against them is not something I've ever bought into." • Saban is in favor of moving to a nine-game conference schedule, ensuring that every team plays every other team at least once in a four-year span. And a parting shot at the criteria for playoff-eligible teams: Saban said proponents of limiting playoff participation to conference champions are "against the SEC" and "against conferences with more than one good team." We hope that clears things up.