Nick Saban Speaks on Butch Jones, Mac Jones During SEC Teleconference

The Crimson Tide coach spoke very highly of a former Tennessee coach and his signal caller during his weekly SEC teleconference
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It's Tennessee week, so University of Alabama coach Nick Saban naturally gets the Butch Jones question on the weekly SEC coaches teleconference each year since the former Volunteers coach joined the Crimson Tide staff in 2018.

Saban had some nice things to say about one of his assistants on Wednesday morning.

"He's an off-the-field coach for us," Saban said. "He does a lot of things for me personally as a special assistant in terms of evaluating certain things. Practice film. And evaluating a lot of organizational things internally here. He's done a really good job for me. I really like having him be part of our staff. He's done a really good job."

Jones' official title is Special Assistant to the Head Coach and, so far during his stint in Tuscaloosa, there have been opportunities to leave but he has stayed under the wing of Saban.

"I think that's something you probably should ask him," Saban said when asked why Jones hasn't taken another coaching job. "We're happy to have him here. He seems to be pleased to be here. We're excited to have him be a part of our staff."

Along with his praise for Jones, Saban also shared some insight into his quarterback Mac Jones' mentality to sit behind Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa when he arrived at the Capstone and not transfer out, which is almost the norm in modern college football nowadays. 

And now, he is lighting the Southeastern Conference on fire, throwing for 1,518 yards and 12 touchdowns and only two interceptions.

"We've obviously always had a tremendous amount of respect for Mac in terms of how he viewed his development as a player," Saban said. "He never was ever discouraged or really ever talked about leaving or transferring. I think he had a different mentality that I've got to work hard to try to earn a spot here, and by doing that over several years improved pretty dramatically and used the opportunity to play behind the good players to actually enhance his development. See how they did things. And consequently, I think when he got his opportunity after being here for several years, he's played pretty well.

"And I think development is something that all players at every position, whether they got to college or when they go to the NFL, is something that they need to be focused on whether than just how much am I gonna play immediately."

Saban didn't hesitate when asked if Mac was exceeding his expectations so far this season because his rise to stardom isn't a surprise to the coach.

"I didn't say that, so I guess that's your assumption that he's exceeding expectations," Saban said. "We had a lot of confidence in Mac. We thought he could play well. Our challenge is to always keep him in the right place where he makes good choices and decisions, and he's done that. He's done a really good job of that. We've got some pretty good skill guys and to keep them involved in the offense, get them the ball, is a really important part of it. And Mac has done a really good job of that. He's done a good job of executing the offense, managing the game, doing the things that we need him to do to play winning football. We're happy with that."

Lastly, Saban reiterated that his players need to put the win over No. 3 Georgia in the rear-view mirror and prepare accordingly for the trip to Knoxville this weekend with a new, refreshed mindset. 

"It's a big rivalry game for a lot of people in the state of Alabama, so our players really need to bounce back and re-center, refocus," Saban said. "I think Tennessee has a really good team. Obviously the turnovers they had last game was really a lot to overcome. But I think their defense is playing really well. Offensively, they've got great ability to run the ball and good balance and I think it's going to be a challenge for us both ways.

"To always play on the road in a game like this is difficult. So our players have to really focus on what they have to do to prepare well in the game and be able to go play every play in the game so that we're going to have the best chance to have success."