Singing, Dancing, Kissing

There's one sure-fire way to tell whether Alabama's enigmatic head coach is happy; that is to hear him say "I'm happy."

A reporter asked Nick Saban if he was happy after Alabama's 36-0 dismantling of a hapless Auburn squad at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday night, and Saban responded in a manner one might expect after such a lop-sided win.

"Yeah, are you?" Saban quipped. "I am happy. We're happy to have you here (the reporter was not a regular). I was happy singing and dancing in the locker room right before I came up here. Ms. Terry (Saban's wife Terry) gave me a kiss on the way up here. I was real happy about that."

After six consecutive losses by Alabama, any type of win over Auburn might have satisfied some Bama fans. But this was more. As Saban put it, Alabama "out-hit, out-hustled and out-executed" the Tigers in every aspect. It was a change from years past which Saban credited largely to his small-in-number, large-in-influence senior class.

"When I came here change was probably inevitable," Saban said, "but the growth that everyone has had was optional and everybody had to buy into it. The seniors we have on this team were probably a key to changing the culture… They really engaged the young players that have contributed to our success and I want everybody to know they should always be recognized as the group that had a lot of do with changing the culture around here about the way to play football. This is the way Alabama has always played football."

"There's a competitive spirit about them," Saban said, referring to the entire squad. "There's a collectiveness and a spirit about them that makes this teams one of my favorites of all time to coach. There are not lot of problem guys.

"Everybody cares. Everybody cares."

Saturday night's win, however dominant, was still a small piece of a bigger puzzle Saban is trying to put together in his second season as Bama's coach. The Tide will play for its first SEC Championship in 9 years next week in Atlanta against Florida. A win there would of course place Alabama in the BCS national championship game.

"There's two contrasting styles," Saban said, "and it'll be interesting to see how those styles affect the outcome of the game."

"I think that they're playing extremely well and they've dominated a lot of their opponents and its certainly going to be a challenge. Other than playing in the national championship, it's the finest venue that I've ever been in as the coach. Great environment, great atmosphere, and you're always playing a great opponent."

Saban said he wouldn't be doing anyting "different" with his team in the coming week just because they are playing in a bigger setting. He pointed out, "If there was something different we could do – I get asked this all the time, is there anything we can do because it's such a big game? – if there were something different you could do then you'd be admitting that you haven't done everything all year that you could to win games."

After the game Saban took a victory lap around Bryant-Denny Stadium acknowledging the fans, almost all of whom remained in their seats long after the game was over.

"I've done that at other places because I think everybody contributes to the team," he said. "I think our fans have been extremely supportive and the positive energy and support has had an impact on us being able to recruit and a positive image for our program.

"In the two years I've been here we've had great atmosphere, but I don't think it was ever any better than we had here tonight."

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