Predictably, the first question addressed to Alabama Coach Nick Saban in his weekly press briefing concerned the firing of the man who replaced him at LSU, Les Miles.
Just as predictably, Saban had nothing but good to say about Miles, who was fired a day after his LSU Tigers missed by about a second of winning a tough Southeastern Conference road game at Auburn. Saban also made it clear that he did not agree with the decision made at LSU, where Saban coached from 2000 to 2004 and then was replaced by Miles.
Saban said, “First of all, Les Miles is one of the most respected colleagues in terms of the rivalry that we've had, the competition that we've had, the great teams that they've had.
“I kind of hated that a man wins a national championship, wins two SEC titles, and doesn't make it through the season. It is what it is, but I have a tremendous amount of respect for Les Miles and what he was able to accomplish there, the number of wins he had.
“This is very similar to Georgia firing Mark Richt when he averages 10 wins a season.
“I guess this is the time that we live in, everybody needs to know that, but it doesn't minimize to any degree the amount of respect that I have for the job that Les Miles did at LSU, the great competitive teams that he's had there for a long, long time and the amount of success that he's had. And certainly wish him and his family well.”
It is interesting that this week Alabama plays host to Kentucky (6 p.m. CDT Saturday), and the Wildcats are coached by another man – Mark Stoops -- who has been speculated as being on the coaching hot seat.
That, too, was a question for Saban.
Saban said, “I think Kentucky has really good players and all I know is they’re a lot better now and every year that I’ve seen them they’ve gotten better and better and better. I think Mark has done a really good job. I know he works hard at recruiting. He’s probably improved the players, relative to what they’re playing with on the field. I think that continuity in programs sometimes gets overlooked. Sometimes you’ve got a better chance to build in the long run if you’re not constantly making changes. I think people sometimes overlook that. I think Mark has done a really, really good job. I think they’re a really competitive, physical team that is going to be a real challenge for us.”
It is no secret that in the college football world, and particularly in the SEC, coaches are being judged against the incredible record being forged at Alabama under Saban. The Crimson Tide coach was even asked if he is responsible for the climate and if it’s fair.
He said, “That’s not really for me to say.
“We feel fortunate to have the kind of team here that we have at Alabama, that’s created an atmosphere and environment where our players have a chance to be successful personally, academically, and athletically; and I think we’ve created a lot of value for our players. Because of that we’ve had some really, really good players. Those guys have competed well and played well.
“We’ve had some great (assistant) coaches.
Because of the team that we have – from our administration to our athletic administration to the players and coaches that we have – all those things contribute.
“It’s not just about who the head coach is.
“I think that’s why we’ve been successful. It’s a challenge for us to continue to try to be successful.
“I can’t really comment on anybody else’s standard for what they want to try to accomplish or what they want to try to do.”