Hoover, Ala. -- Among the biggest laughs so far at SEC Media Days: when Nick Saban hoped during his opening remarks that the assembled media has "all had a nice summer so far." It was a tension-easing laugh.
Saban talked about the challenges of sustained success before reporters had their turn, mentioning the Yankees and Roger Federer among the sporting institutions that have had established themselves as the classes of their trades. For the Tide, which have won two titles in three years and [/counts on fingers and toes] all-time, these are the peers.
In defense of rematches, Saban essentially called everyone insisting on only conference champs in the playoffs a declared enemy of the SEC and of conferences with more than one good team. He cited the NFL and UNC-Kentucky basketball along the way.
Offering a suggestion on Penn State instead of feelings ("I don't really have a lot of feelings," was a popular quote), Saban recommended the school add some sort of a tax on game tickets, with proceeds going to child abuse charities. "Probably not a good idea, and maybe I shouldn't have said it." Seems like a really good idea to me. Also on Penn State, Saban denied that football is out of control at Alabama -- he cited the process (process) for dealing with crimes and violations, but you'd have to agree that even if football isn't bigger than the school for those on the inside, it surely is for many on the outside.
Injured running back Eddie Lacy is "doing extremely well" and expected to be fine for practice. Barrett Jones is one of the "very few" seniors Alabama has this year. The Tide have one of their customary neutral-ground openers against a major conference foe this year. Saban said the Michigan game will enhance preparation, much like all those Chick-fil-A games have.
And on the subject of tough scheduling, Saban has no fear of nine-game schedules. He compared it to the SEC Championship Game, which was supposed to make it too tough for a SEC team to win the national title -- here's more on that line of thinking.
New conference colleague Gary Pinkel ("I know he was up here talking about how he's younger than me"), with whom Saban crossed paths at Toledo, made for a chance to talk about coaches Saban himself looked up to, and thus we had a memorable quote on Saban looking up to "older coaches" like Steve Spurrier. "I was going to consider wearing a visor this year, but I'm afraid I'd throw it."
Also no hard feelings for other coaches around the league ("The idea that you have to dislike somebody to compete against them is not something I've ever bought into") and his proteges-turned-rivals Derek Dooley and Will Muschamp.
Your updated Recruitedness Power Rankings, in which we rank how recruited we feel to each program after each coach has taken the podium:
- John L. Smith
- Steve Spurrier
- James Franklin
- Les Miles
- Kevin Sumlin
- Nick Saban
- Will Muschamp
- Dan Mullen
- Joker Phillips
- Gary Pinkel
- Gene Chizik