Saban Puts Off Attrition Talk

Alabama Coach Nick Saban is not shy. Not in any way. Even with only a handful of seniors on last year's team, Saban signed a large number of players in the signing period following the 2008 season. When Alabama opens fall camp on August 5, the Crimson Tide will have to be at 85 on scholarshipped players.

Best guesses at Alabama's squad size insofar as scholarshipped players puts the number at about 90, five over the limit. That may or may not be correct.

In his visit before sportswriters at Southeastern Conference Media Days in Hoover Thursday, Alabama Coach Nick Saban was asked about the "varying reports recently of players who either have left or are considering maybe leaving the program. Are you close to the 85 number, do you feel comfortable where that is right now? Would you classify such attrition are normal year to year stuff?

Saban said, "We have a demanding program. I mean, when I say 'demanding program,' I'm not talking about football. We have a personal development aspect to our program that there's principles and values in the organization relative to developing a successful philosophy, creating the right kind of habits, thoughts, habits and priorities that are going to help you make good decisions, whether it's the Pacific Institute coming in, whether it's a peer intervention program that address behavioral issues, drugs, alcohol, gambling, spiritual development, how to treat the opposite sex, macho man stuff, running your mouth, getting in fights.

"Most of the stuff you read about players having issues with come in some of those categories from that personal standpoint. We spend a lot of time trying to develop personalities on our team, characteristics that will help them be more successful, and they'll be more successful in life for having been involved in the program.

"It is demanding. We have some players in our program who have not met those demands. We have the same kind of demands academically. We have one of the highest graduation rates in the SEC and in the country, and that's going north for next year because we'll have even more players graduate next year in our program.

"But we have a demanding academic system in terms of player requirements, in terms of what they need to do. There are players that don't meet that. And we have the same thing in football. But none of these players are leaving because of the kind of football players they are from our standpoint. There may be some player who leaves because they're disappointed and don't think or don't have the confidence that they can play.

"So if we have attrition for any of those areas, and I tell the player, I don't want you to leave, you're a good person in the program, you're a good student. You may be a backup player, but you have to be satisfied with your role on the team 'cause we don't want a player that's disgruntled or negative in terms of our team chemistry for selfish reasons because you're unsatisfied with your role. If you don't think you can achieve that here, I'm supportive in helping you go someplace else.

"I don't know how these things get out. But I only address these things when we start fall camp. We still have a couple players who could or couldn't qualify. We have quite a few players who have already enrolled in school. This is from a young player's standpoint. We have some players who will be grayshirted and know they will be grayshirted. And we have some players who are contemplating what their future's gonna be relative to the University of Alabama.

"And we have some players who are being suspended, whether it's for behavior or academic reasons, and they won't continue at our school."

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