Tide Working on Character Building

A report on the Alabama football team is featured from SEC Media Days.

Birmingham, Ala.--With a string of arrests of University of Alabama football players in the past year, senior Antoine Caldwell and Coach Nick Saban said on Thursday they are working on character building in the Tide program.

"I really want to speak on that because a lot of people open up the newspaper and see the one, or two or three bad things that happen," Caldwell says. "They don't see about the other 25 guys who have been helped from the programs we have. We have a character development program we have in place from Pacific Institute. They have come in and done it for us this summer--guys out of California.

"We have a peer intervention group that we do," he adds. "We have extensive drug tests...and everything, program going on. You hear about the one or two guys who make bad decisions, but you don't hear about the other 25 who are helped in a year.

"I feel like guys have to carry their weight, be responsible and you have got to make good decisions," he says. "Things that have happened, some we couldn't control. You just can't dwell on the past. You can't go forward looking backwards. You have just got to put that away and move on."

Asked if the rash of off the field issues have changed the way he runs the program, Saban said, "No, not at all. Unfortunately for you all, we have about 25 or 30 guys that are doing extremely well in the program, have improved dramatically as students, have made a lot of personal choices that have enhanced their chances of being successful in the future, have improved as football players. And I think their chances of being successful in life have improved dramatically.

"You know, philosophically, we are there to help players," Saban says. "You know, we're going to take every player and try to get him to reach his full potential and everybody has a responsibility and and obligation for their own self-determination, but we're there to support and help those players to do that. That's our philosophy.

"You know, I'm not gonna clean house and get rid of everybody just because they might be a problem," Saban adds. "Now when guys don't do the right things or make poor judgments, then they cannot be a part of the program, but it's our philosophy to support players, to help them be successful. One of the reasons that I enjoy college coaching and want to be in college coaching and am here is to help players do that."

Coach Nick Saban

Alabama, Tennessee, Ole Miss and Georgia coaches and players were featured in day two of SEC Football Media Days 2008. On

Caldwell says he is excited about the 2008 recruiting class. He singled out wide receiver Julio Jones, quarterback Star Jackson, cornerback Alonzo Lawrence, linebacker Jerrell Harris and Burton Scott as freshmen who have impressed him in summer workouts.

Commenting on the 2008 Tide team, Caldwell says, "It reminds me a lot of the '05 group. We were 10-2 that year because I feel like if things went a little different that year we could have done something, too. Talent-wise we have got everything, the pieces of the puzzle. We are just looking forward to getting it done.

"Hopefully we can compete for the SEC West this year," he adds. "I think we will compete for the SEC West, but even if it is not when I am here those guys (freshmen) are going to get it done."

In other notes:

*Asked about the Tide's six-game losing streak to Auburn, Caldwell says, "Of course, we talk about it amongst each other as players. We see it as just another game. Auburn has another good team, like they always do, this year. We feel like we just have to go out there and take it game by game. Right now, we are focusing on Clemson. When we get to Auburn in Tuscaloosa, then it will be a good matchup. We will just have to give them what we got."

Antoine Caldwell at SEC Media Days 2008.

*Caldwell points out he has high expectations for Tide senior John Parker Wilson, who the lineman says "is the most experienced quarterback in the SEC." The lineman says the offense has been tweaked to make the reads easier this year for the QB. He says the new offensive coordinator is "simplifying a lot of things we were doing."

Saban made a similar comment on Thursday. "I think you can have a great system, but also can be very complicated," he says. "And sometimes complications slow down players' ability to make good judgments and decisions. That can affect their ability to perform with consistency."

When asked how disappointing the Tide's "6-6 record" was last season, Caldwell corrected a reporter noting the Tide finished 7-6. "We've got to make sure that doesn't happen again," he says.

*Saban says the Tide's season-opener at the Georgia Dome vs. what is expected to be a strong Clemson team should give Alabama an early read on "where we are" as a football team.

2008 Inside the Auburn Tigers Football Guide

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