TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Carrying over his energy from Wednesday night's press conference, Alabama head coach Nick Saban once again expressed his frustrations on the attitude of entitlement among his players.
This time, though, he extended his frustrations out to the fan base as well.
On the Hey Coach! radio program on Thursday night, a caller explained to Saban that his friends and what he had read on the internet seemed to be talking about the Crimson Tide's upcoming games past Arkansas, including the SEC Championship Game.
Alabama hasn't clinched a spot in this year's SEC title game, but a win over No. 21 Arkansas this weekend would do just that. Answering the caller, Saban first explains that the Razorbacks are going to be a bigger challenge than many fans anticipate.
“Arkansas has got a good team,” Saban said. “I don’t know why anybody would think they don’t have a good team. They’re 7-3, they beat Texas, they beat Texas A&M — who beat us — so I don’t get it. And they lost 52-51 to Ole Miss because they went for two at the end of the game — which I’m not blaming the coach for doing that, they didn’t make it. On a two-point conversion, it all came down to that. So I don’t understand it.”
In the same segment of the show, Saban had gone into detail about having to discuss with his players about getting rid of an entitlement mentality and approaching the game as an opportunity to have success, not a guarantee of success. He referenced a line from the Declaration of Independence, "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness," explaining that it doesn't guarantee happiness. Rather, it guarantees the opportunity to pursue happiness.
When it comes to rat poison, Saban spoke at-length that Arkansas presents a viable threat. Upon a deep elaboration, Saban further explained how succumbing to what outside influences say — be it friends, family, fans or the media — can cause the negative behaviors associated with an entitled mindset.
“I do think there’s some of that, and that’s not a good thing,” Saban said. “We really all year long have tried to build on what it takes to be a team. The togetherness it takes, everybody put the team first, everybody buy into the principles and values of the organization, be positive in your body language and how you do things and be positive to support your teammates and have energy and enthusiasm and be responsible for your own self-determination and go out there and do your job and work and prepare and do the things you need to do to take ownership so you can do that. It’s constant that we get these negative vibes from external factors that seem to interrupt our ability to try to do this on a consistent basis."
Saban then went on to talk about a meeting that he had held with the team on Wednesday addressing the entitlement issue that some of his players have been exhibiting.
"I actually got onto the players pretty good yesterday about that because you want to try to build and finish and players have to understand what it takes to finish," Saban said. "And this very thing that I talked about, when all you read and hear is the unimportance of the game you’re playing and the lack of respect for the team you’re playing from other people outside.
"Because amazing to me, everybody believes what they read. You all can put whatever you want on your phone and run into the wall looking at it, but they believe it. That’s not a good thing. That’s very, very difficult and you have to have a lot of maturity and a lot of good leadership on your team because it creates this culture of what I just talked about: we’ll just show up and win. We’re just going to show up and win. And it doesn’t work that way. I challenged the players and I challenged the leadership on the team to make sure that we go about and do things the right way.”
Later on in the segment, Saban began to relate the entitlement mindset of his players and how it also relates to the mentality of the fan base. While Saban did offer his appreciation to the fans, he also said that they play a vital role in the mentality of the team and that they need to understand their impact.
The speech was met with rousing cheers from the fans gathered at Baumhower's Victory Grille in Tuscaloosa.
“Maybe that speech about entitlement also applies to fans,” Saban said. “Not just players. And we have great fans, don’t get me wrong. But sometimes I think that fans don’t understand how what they do can impact the psychological disposition of young people and what they need to be doing so that they can play the way they need to play. Be positive, be supportive and understand your role. They need your help. They need your support.
"We gotta create a great stadium for them to play in and make it hard for the other team to play at our place and not have the expectation that we’re just going to show up and win.”
No. 2 Alabama and No. 21 Arkansas are set to square off inside Bryant-Denny Stadium at 2:30 p.m. CT on Saturday (CBS).