Coach Saban Upbeat At Tuscaloosa Meet

There were concerns as the Crimson Caravan rolled only across campus Thursday night, Nick Saban addressing Alabama fans in one of his meet-and-greet stops with Bama fans. It was rumored ticket sales were not going well and bad weather threatened late in the afternoon.

But it was an excellent Alabama evening in The Zone at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Football Coach Nick Saban addressed an overflow crowd and said it was the most enjoyable stop he has made on his spring tour.

Generally speaking, the Crimson Tide coach was in an upbeat mood. He had his digs for the media and sniped at a few fans who must have come from Mars to ask questions that he has addressed over and over. But it was a pleasant affair.

One piece of potential bad news concerned middle linebacker Prince Hall. The upcoming junior, who has been a first team player most of the past two years, was suspended for the spring. Saban said Thursday night that Hall has not done all he could do to earn his way back and warned that even if Hall gets things in order to return to the team, he will be suspended for some games.

Saban gave credit to Alabama fans for their positive energy and said it was critical that it continue into fall games. Specifically, he said that it is detrimental to a football team to have its fans boo the squad.

The Tide coach said that this year's recruiting class would not necessarily result in a large number of freshmen playing in the fall, pointing out that in the past week or two those "stars" have been at their high school proms. He said he expected all freshmen to be in Tuscaloosa beginning June 1 for summer school, a situation he applauds. A school may pay for summer school for incoming freshmen and Saban pointed out that the players have an opportunity to get ahead academically, get stronger in working with strength and conditioning coaches, and to enjoy the social benefit of becoming friends with their teammates before fall camp begins in August.

Saban did say that continuing to have excellent recruiting would be key to winning future championships.

In a press briefing prior to his Crimson Caravan address, Saban expressed pleasure with Alabama's good showing in the APR, the NCAA's academic measurement of teams. He said it was the result of Alabama having invested in the Bryant Hall Academic Center, the academic staff under Jon Dever, and the system of checks and balances that keeps tabs on academic progress of players.

Saban said it is his goal to have a football team that dominates the opposition. Last year, he said, Bama played up to the good opponents and down to the weaker opponents and that consistency must be improved. He said no games were lost because of what the opponents did, but rather because of what Alabama did not do. He said he wants Alabama to be a team that other teams hate to play, and particularly hate to play in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

He predicted that the plans to expand Bryant-Denny with a South end zone remodeling would come to fruition, perhaps beginning as early as next year.

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