Mixed Interest In Politics

Mike Johnson had the good sense to avoid the question, whether Alabama Coach Nick Saban is a Republican or a Democrat. "I think he's too busy worrying about the football team to be concerned with that," the Crimson Tide guard said Wednesday after practice.

He may have been correct.

A sportswriter who covers Alabama football delved into the real world for a moment in Coach Nick Saban's Wednesday post-practice press conference, asking the Crimson Tide coach if he had followed election returns Tuesday night.

"That's not my focus," Saban said, claiming that he didn't even know Barack Obama had won the Tuesday election until Wednesday morning. He said "the guy who won got a lot of votes and the guy who lost got a lot of votes, so if I get into it I make a lot of people mad at me. I'm not into politics. I don't think it will have an effect on the game."

If Saban had wanted to follow the election Tuesday night he could have joined some of his players.

Mike Johnson said, "A lot of the guys were paying attention to the election. Some of them asked me if I wanted to go to their place to watch the returns.

"This is the first time I got to vote. I voted absentee."

Johnson, 21, is from Pensacola, Fla.

"It's the first time I've been around guys who were eligible to vote."

Even so, like his coach, Johnson said he and his teammates have been trying to keep their minds on the upcoming game against LSU.

Alabama, 9-0 and ranked first in the nation, goes to Baton Rouge for a 2:30 p.m. CST Saturday game against the LSU Tigers, 6-2. CBS will televise the game.

"Practice has been good," Johnson said. "We're trying to keep the tempo up. This is a big game."

He said the players can't worry about "external factors," including the possible distraction of Saban returning to Baton Rouge, where he once coached LSU. "That's not on our minds," Johnson said. "Most of us weren't around when he was there. We have him here, and he's been great."

Johnson said the Tide does have something to worry about in playing LSU. "Ability-wise and size-wise, no one we've played has been close to them. And their depth separates them from other teams. They've got third team defensive tackles who would start a lot of places. They are big guys who are very athletic."

Johnson was asked about LSU giving up more than 50 points each in losses to Florida and Georgia. "I don't know how they did that," Johnson said. "They are big, physical and as talented as they were last year when they won the national championship."

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