Saban, Grant Team On Crimson Caravan

The Crimson Caravan's tandem of Nick Saban and Anthony Grant flew down to Mobile's Port City Tuesday evening to entertain the A+ Incentives Program, Tide Pride, A-Club, Red Elephant Club and National Alumni Association members gathered at the famed Battle House Hotel. Both coaches entertained questions from the media before entering the sold out Grand Ballroom.

Alabama Football Coach Nick Saban developed the Crimson Caravan to take his message directly to the Bama faithful. He has been joined by new Basketball Coach Anthony Grant.

Prior to the sold-out banquet, Saban and Grant met with media and touched on a number of topics. Here are their responses:

Coach Saban on the highlight of the Crimson Caravan.

"The great thing about the caravan to me is it gives our fans an opportunity to hear firsthand where our program is, what we're trying to do, what we're trying to accomplish, what our mission statement is and how their positive enthusiasm contributes to the success that we have and how much we appreciate that. I really look forward to this because it's sort of a relationship building time with our fans and this is about the only time of year we can do it so I enjoy going to each spot and Mobile is one of our favorite places. We've got some good players down here and we're happy to try to get some more."

Coach Saban on where the program is after spring training and heading into the fall.

"I don't think anybody ever comes out of spring practice with a perfect team. I think there's always some area of your team you have a concern about. How those concerns sort of get remedied affect how well your team does. We've got a lot of players back on defense. We've got to replace a couple of people in the secondary.

Offensively, I thought we made nice progress in the spring. (QB) Greg McElroy did a very good job. He's very bright, instinctive - a good leader. Players like him. So there's other parts of our offensive team I think that need to come together. On the offensive line we need to continue to make progress so that the runners and receivers have an opportunity to make plays.

We've got a lot of players back on special teams and both of our specialists so hopefully we can be improved on special teams."

Coach Saban on feeling comfortable with the quarterback situation coming out of spring and is he sleeping well with the other options for the signal calling position.

"Well I don't sleep well at night ever you know over something but Greg did a nice job. I think we have to continue to develop the young players that we have. We have backup quarterbacks that are capable of playing winning football. I'm not sure they have developed to the point where they can and that certainly is going to be a challenge for us when we start two-a-days."

Coach Saban on the importance of bonding with Coach Grant and the overall support of all sports at Alabama.

"I think basketball is really important. People say Alabama is a football school. I say it's a basketball school and a women's volleyball school and a women's softball school. I want to be good at everything. I think being good just shows the standard of excellence and a commitment to a standard of excellence that the athletic department has. I think we've demonstrated that as an institution.

Dr. Witt (University President Dr. Robert E. Witt) has done a fantastic job in terms of the growth at Alabama and the popularity of The University of Alabama right now as a school. So we're very supportive of the basketball program. I think Coach Grant and I both want to support each other and we want to help them every way that we can. I know he'll be a tremendous asset to us as well."

Coach Saban on last year's team almost reaching the mountain top and using the near miss as motivation for this year's squad.

"I think the inspiration for this year's team is going to be a little bit different. I think last year's team had something to prove. They were a little embarrassed about how they finished the year before and losing the last four games (regular season). I think this team has to be good because they want to be good, they want to be dominant. They know there's going to be challenges. There was nobody that circled Alabama last year as the team to beat on their schedule and I think this year everybody will have our game circled and our team has to be ready for those challenges.

There's a lot of good competition in our league. Virginia Tech is going to be a top five team probably in the opener. So we have a lot of challenges and this team has to show that they have the right stuff to be able to play with consistency relative to the standard its going to take to beat that kind of competition on a consistent basis. A lot of those things are intangibles. Those things you don't know about until you start playing."

Coach Saban on taking a different approach with his senior class with respect to leadership.

"I think leadership comes from a lot of different players. And certainly we've got a pretty good senior class but we also have some other good leaders on the team. I think leadership is very important but it starts with being a good role model. It starts with setting a good example. It starts with a willingness to understand and support other people and help other people in a positive way. It's also about reinforcing the principles and values of the program and everybody understanding the importance of that and how it contributes to being successful."

Coach Saban on his bit role in the movie "The Blind Side" based on Michael Lewis's book depicting the inspiring story of former Ole Miss tackle Michael Oher - acting with Tim McGraw and Sandra Bullock who play the adoptive Touhy parents and giving the command to start the engines at the Aaron's 499 Race at the Talladega Superspeedway as Grand Marshall of the event.

"Tim McGraw and Sandra Bullock were two wonderful professional people. I had to thank the entire crew for taking this(himself) and trying to mold it into something that was presentable for the big screen. So I have a tremendous amount of appreciation for all those people for that. The crew was great. You don't have to be around Sandra Bullock or Tim McGraw long to figure out why they are successful at what they do. They have a tremendous amount of professionalism and a real quality about their work. It's important to them and they have tremendous pride. I really enjoyed it. You know I had two out of body experiences for me. Starting the race at Talladega on Sunday and being part of a movie on Friday. I've never done either one of those things and they were really experiences. I don't know if I want to sign up for them again but I enjoyed both."

Coach Saban on Julio Jones's prognosis after the recent sports hernia operation in Philadelphia and other injury updates.

"Julio Jones had a very minor surgery. It's a three-week rehab. He's fine. We have a series of guys that have minor things wrong with them after spring practice. We don't give medical reports. We don't hide information. If it's something significant we would certainly release it to everyone but this is nothing for anybody to worry about. It's not anything significant. He (Jones) went through the whole spring with it and it wasn't a problem for him so but it is something that could get progressively worse if it's not taken care of. We made a decision, the doctor made a decision that it was a small thing but it was something I think better served that we took care of it now."

Coach Saban on the chances of Julio Jones's role expanding this upcoming season.

"Julio is an outstanding player. He had a great freshmen season. I think the fact that he has a little more experience and we can move him around may enhance his productivity a little bit."

Coach Grant on the crossover support between basketball, football and all the other sports along with the administration's commitment.

"I think that's what it's all about. We have a total sports program at The University of Alabama. That is one of the things that attracted me to The University of Alabama is the commitment from the leadership, President Witt, Coach Moore, Dave Hart and the entire administration to provide the resources for every one of our sports programs to have a chance to be successful and play for championships."

Coach Grant on the upcoming season.

"I think we'll wait and see. I'm excited about the challenges that lie in front of us. I'm looking forward to working with our guys, getting on the floor with them and spending some time. I'm looking forward to the challenges the SEC will present. I think this is one of the best leagues in the country. I know our guys are looking forward to getting inundated with the style of play and the system. We're looking forward to it."

Coach Grant on his scheduling philosophy.

"We're in the process of trying to put the schedule together. My biggest thing is putting a schedule together that will challenge our guys but will also give us a chance as a basketball team to grow. Put ourselves in a position where we can legitimately be in position for postseason. Obviously the strength of our league hopefully will be the backbone of our schedule but we've also got to put ourselves in a position with the nonconference schedule of playing a competitive enough schedule that we would warrant consideration should we not win the league or the tournament. At the same time put ourselves in a position that we could get better as a basketball team."

Coach Grant on considering a marquee television matchup against a strong non-conference opponent during the SEC schedule.

"It would be tough to do during the SEC's schedule. The demands that we will have during that time I think that schedule is challenging enough. If it's a situation that I think is a benefit to our team that makes sense then naturally we would look at it. During the SEC season, that would have to be a unique opportunity."

Coach Grant on inviting three other teams to Tuscaloosa for a tournament in the future.

"It's not something that we've talked about. Obviously right now I wouldn't want to take anything off the table. I wouldn't want to commit to anything prematurely but certainly we want to try to do the best job that we can to put a schedule together that attracts our fans and excites our fans about the competition and the caliber of games that we're playing and obviously our team. We're going to do everything we can to make that happen."

Coach Grant on creating enthusiasm in the student section and throughout the entire Coleman Coliseum.

"That is something we'll talk about. Obviously our marketing department has a lot of different things that will look at. I've been on the job for about a month and had a lot I've had to consider. Obviously trying to put a schedule together for next year is first and foremost. >From a priority standpoint that's not something that we've delved heavily into at this point but we certainly want to do everything we can to get the students excited, to get the fans excited, to highlight the history and the tradition that Alabama has so we're going to do everything we can to make that happen."

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