But for many decades, the presentation of Alabama football has been businesslike. Oh, sure, the players celebrated after some big wins, but for the most part Crimson Tide players have been stoic in victory and the occasional defeat.
No one is more stonefaced than the leader of Alabama football, Coach Nick Saban, so it has been a bit of a surprise to hear him this week talking about players having fun. It started with him saying how happy he was to see his players celebrating after Landon Collins made an interception to seal last week’s 14-13 win over Arkansas in Fayetteville.
Wednesday he was discussing preparation for this Saturday’s game against Texas A&M, which will be at 2:30 p.m. CDT at Bryant-Denny Stadium with CBS televising. And again he used the F-word.
“We’re really trying to focus on our players, playing hard, completing well, having fun playing football,” he said.
Saban then revealed an analogy from Alabama Golf Coach Jay Seawell related to anxiety.
“There’s an awful lot of anxiety sometimes with young people when expectations and the reality of the situation you’re in don’t quite meet,” Saban said.
Saban said that Seawell told him the Bama golf team has had that after back-to-back national championships in 2013 and 2014. And so Seawell took his team to the movies…actually, showed the film, “Secretariat,” to his team.
The theme of the movie, Saban explained, was that the owners “had so much pressure on them because of their debt and the horse had to win the Triple Crown, the anxiety and the tension, and all that, and finally she just said, ‘Let the horse run,’ and it won by 31 lengths at the Belmont.
“Well that’s what we’re trying to let our guys do, just let them run. Just let them play. That’s why I was so happy about the last game because of the way they competed in the game, how hard they played in the game. That’s really what we’re trying to get our players to do. That’s the way we’d like to finish the season with them.”
Insofar as preparation, Saban said, “We’ve had a really good week of practice. I think the players are working hard. The most difficult thing about playing against a team like A&M is first of all, two things, their pace of play, to simulate the speed in practice to get the look that you need is very difficult for the defensive players, and then the quality of skill players that they have, that you have to play against with the speed of the game, is something that the players really have to adapt to. Being spread out all the time, it’s really difficult to stop the run and the pass – they do an excellent job of executing what they do extremely well, so this is going to be a very difficult game for us.
“Offensively, we seem to be making a little progress this week. The offensive line is making some improvements and getting some guys a little healthier so hopefully we’ll play with a little more consistency.”