Alabama's Saban On Halloween
Before getting down to the business of discussing the Crimson Tide's preparation, Alabama's head coach wished the reporters a Happy Halloween as he took the podium. He then opened and read a card signed by most of the beat writers wishing him a Happy Halloween and Happy Birthday.
"My mother got quite a trick or treat, didn't she," he joked.
Nick Saban was 56 years old Wednesday.
In response to a question from a sportswriter from Baton Rouge, Saban talked about having houseguests this week from Louisiana. Saban, of course, was head coach at LSU -- this week's Bama opponent -- for five years, 2000-2004.
Saban said, "As much as you guys try to make it that everyone in Louisiana hates my guts, everybody doesn't. We do have a few friends left. They are lifelong friends. I think they probably like us – me and Terry – for who we are, not for what we do. We respect the fact they went to LSU, they like LSU, and they root for LSU."
He said when he was head coach at Michigan State, his next-door neighbor and very good friend was a "big Michigan guy."
He said, "I know you guys would like to make it like everyone wants to blow up everyone's house. I don't feel that way about anybody. Anyone who ever supported us is welcome at the Saban house.
"We appreciate the great support that we have from our fans here now."
But when the subject turned to what kind of food would be served to his guests, Saban said, "You need to interview Terry." He said his wife is in charge of that department.
For the first time in months, the subject of Saban's departure from the Miami Dolphins (where he was head coach in 2005 and 2006) to be Alabama's head coach came up.
Saban said, "I enjoy college football. It's not about here, there or anywhere else. The people here have been great, the administration here has been great. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to building a great program here that helps the players develop as people, to have a better chance to be successful in life because they've been involved in the program, guys that graduate, get an education, that certainly helps a lot in terms of being successful in life, develop as football players, recruit high-caliber guys who want to be good football players and champions in how they go about things they do, and use the resources we have to help them launch their career when they leave so they have great opportunities in life. That's the kind of program we want to have, that's what we want to do, that's what we enjoy.
"I have said time and time again I left college football and found out that where I went was a mistake by me. And I learned by myself. I didn't know that when I left. I learned that. That's no disrespect to anyone. I could have stayed there and not enjoyed it or I could go back and do what I love to do which is being a college coach. I loved college football at the time I was doing it.
"One of the most difficult things we do as human beings is be satisfied with what we have and have enough gratitude for all the things we have. Sometimes we ought to think about not the things we don't have, but the things we do have.
"There's always got to be another challenge, something else you've got to do. And there's no balance in your life. You're a perfectionist, you work all the time, you don't enjoy anything. And then you do the next thing and you don't like it, and you really loved what you were doing before.
"And you learn that about yourself. At least I can stand up here and say that now. I couldn't say that before. If I didn't do it, I wouldn't know it."
There was another light moment following Saban's departure. On Wednesday evenings following Saban's presentation, a few players show up to answer questions. One of them Wednesday afternoon was defensive end Wallace Gilberry of Bay Minette. A Baton Rouge reporter who formerly worked at the Mobile Register, not far from Gilberry's Baldwin County home, was questioning him. The reporter asked if Gilberry ever heard from former Mobile and LSU star quarterback JaMarcus Russell, now playing for the Oakland Raiders.
"Hold on," Gilberry said, pulling out his cell phone. A few taps and Gilberry was talking to Russell. He handed the phone to the reporter, who got a second interview.
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