Alabama coach Nick Saban had a press conference on Saturday. At it, someone asked him if he was concerned about a lack of progress in fall camp by the Tide’s backups.
Saban’s response, in part:
“I’ve been concerned about this all along, so I don’t even know why you would ask the question. You just think, whatever happens, we just shit another player, all right, and everything is gonna be perfect. All our fans think that. You [the media] think that. That’s what you write about. That’s the message you send out there. Yeah, I worry about it all the time. I may be the only one, but I do worry about it. So I’m very worried about it.”
Alabama has multiple four- and five-star recruits at every spot on the depth chart where recruits get star ratings. When the Tide suffer a rash of injuries — as happened before 2017’s national title game — the Tide have to dig deep into their back of blue-chips. Every player in Saban’s program is the subject of a long developmental process, with Saban sometimes taking on an ultra-hands-on approach. But it still helps to have lots of talent!
Saban routinely expresses his displeasure with media members acting like Alabama is exactly what it is — the sport’s greatest recruiting power, with a larger reserve of blue-chip players than anybody else. (The Tide are back at No. 1 in 2019’s current recruiting rankings, a few months after their seven-year streak of No. 1 finishes came to a close on Signing Day.) In 2017, he called media hype around his team “rat poison.” The Tide then won the national championship. Saban’s program has also posted fake quotes, attributed to “National Media,” on team bulletin boards in an attempt to rile up players and make them feel like underdogs.
The Tide don’t literally churn players out of their collective bowels whenever they need them. Saban might not be wrong to worry about his own team’s depth. But, spoiler: they are going to be fine, no matter who plays for them in 2018.