Tide Sees Saban In Movie Role

One doesn't have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out the angle a sportswriter is working for a feature story sometimes. This week Don Kausler of the Birmingham News was checking up on what the team does on the Friday before a Saturday game. And it was eventually revealed that Tide players had a fun time at the movies.

A staple of college football teams before a late Saturday game has always been a team movie on Friday night. It's not unusual for a coach to take his team to a tough action film, something to get the lads in the mood to spill blood before they go into the arena. Alabama Coach Nick Saban said he takes the team to a movie on Friday night if the Saturday game is at night. Otherwise, there are meetings or an early-to-bed schedule.

There won't be a movie for Bama this Friday. Kickoff for the Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday is at 11:21 a.m. as second-ranked Bama hosts Tennessee-Chattanooga. The game will be regionally telecast in a limited market on the SEC Network.

Last week Alabama played Mississippi State in Starkville in an evening game. Kausler, the beat writer for the Birmingham News, is putting together a story on the routine of a game Friday and Saturday pre-game. The issue of a movie came up and Saban was a little vague.

He said the team is ordinarily consulted about what kind of movie it wants to attend. It could be action, it could be inspirational, it could be new, it could be an "old favorite." And, he added, "There wasn't much choice in Starkville."

But the team spent Friday night in Columbus, about a half hour from Starkville. And it seems the movie fare was more than a little interesting.

A couple of times this fall Saban has had the opportunity to discuss his participation in a movie that was made last spring. He played himself as the head coach at LSU recruiting Michael Oher. This is an inspirational story about a young boy with nothing going for him who was taken in by former Ole Miss basketball star Sean Touhy, who has been a very successful businessman. Oher also went to the University of Mississippi, where he became an All-America offensive lineman. He now plays for the Baltimore Ravens.

Saban has talked about how professional the stars of the movie, Tim McGraw as Sean Touhy and Sandra Bullock as his wife Leigh Anne, were. The movie is scheduled for release this Friday.

What Saban didn't reveal in his regular Monday news briefing is that Alabama's team saw the movie last Friday.

It was a big hit with the players.

Javier Arenas was the first Tide player to visit with sportswriters Monday. He was asked if the players hoped to see "Blind Side" before this season is over.

"We did already," Arenas said. "You knew that. You didn't? We did. We already saw it. We saw it Friday night. Funny movie."

Now, it's not publicized as a "funny" movie.

As far as Bama players were concerned, their coach was the star.

"He did all right," Arenas said. "Not necessarily an Oscar nomination. He already knows that.

"But it was an outstanding movie, one of the best movies I've seen. You gain another level of respect for Michael Oher. It was mind-boggling just to think I played against him last year. It's an honor to be on the field with a guy like that."

The main attraction, though, was Saban. "Just to see Coach," Arenas said. "He didn't recruit me (Arenas was recruited by previous Tide Coach Mike Shula), so I got a chance to see how he actually goes in someone's house and recruits. It was an interesting experience. And just the fact he was in the movie and he was sitting in the same movie theater as us is pretty fun.

"We were laughing the whole time," Arenas said. "Even the parts that weren't funny, we were laughing.

"He got the hint."

Offensive guad Mike Johnson said, "It was an enjoyable movie. I thought Coach Saban did a pretty good job. It was enjoyable, and we gave him a little bit of crap for it. He seemed to take it all in good stride and seemed to enjoy the movie himself.

"Everybody was hooting and hollering. It was pretty funny. He seemed to think it was funny, too. From what I heard, he enjoyed watching it."

Maybe not.

"He was a little uncomfortable, I think," said Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy. "It was funny seeing him in a little different setting."

Told that Arenas had judged the Saban performance to be less than Oscar worthy, McElroy said, "Maybe a Razzy," referring to the Golden Razzberry Awards, presented annually for the worst in film.

"There was a roar when he came on," McElroy said. "He rings the doorbell and walks in and there was an uproar (in the theater). Sandra Bullock called him ‘good looking,' and I don't think anyone heard any lines after that.

"He was as red as my shirt when we boarded the bus."

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