B/R's New Alabama Lead Writer Reveals What It's Like to Stand Up to Nick Saban

Marc Torrence@marctorrenceAlabama Lead WriterAugust 28, 2013

Standing on the field hours before the biggest game of the 2013 college football season.
Standing on the field hours before the biggest game of the 2013 college football season.

It was a simple question—at least I thought so. Nick Saban did not.

It was Tennessee week, and I, a sophomore journalism student asking Saban my first question ever, wanted to know if conference expansion could affect the annual rivalry.

The rest was history. Saban unloaded on me after a string of frustrating questions, and my journalism career was off to the races. The clip was played on ESPN all week, and Saban apologized two days later.

I learned a lot that day: about Saban, about covering Alabama, and about not worrying about what peopleeven Nick Sabanthink about you when they don't like a very reasonable question you ask.

Since that day I've covered two national championship football teams, became the sports editor of The Crimson White, reported on low student attendance at football games, broke the news about players being sent home before the BCS National Championship Game and talked to the Wall Street Journal about student apathy.

I've interned with The Tuscaloosa News and The Tennessean just outside my hometown of Franklin, Tenn. I've also done freelance work for The Baltimore Sun, The Salt Lake Tribune and others. And now, I'm excited to join the team at Bleacher Report, bringing you inside access into the Alabama program.

You'll be seeing a lot of me this season, so let's get to know each other better. I'll answer a few questions about covering Alabama and their upcoming season. Feel free to drop a comment below if there's anything else you'd like to know.


Best athlete or coach to interview

Alabama gymnastics coach Sarah Patterson. I've covered the UA gymnastics team for two years, and Patterson is always very open and very accessible, even to a humble student journalist like myself. She'll sit with you in her office until you've asked everything you need to and will be open and honest with you in her answers.

She was hired by Bear Bryant when he was athletics director, so she's been around awhile and always has great stories to tell.

If I had to choose a football player, it would be Chance Warmack or Damion Square, two seniors from last year's championship team. They were always very thoughtful and honest.

And I'm a sucker for a good Les Miles quote every now and then.


Best player or team covered

The 2012 Alabama football team. I watched that team from when it opened fall camp and covered every game in person until confetti reigned down in Miami.

From the thrilling comeback in Baton Rouge to the crushing loss to Texas A&M and then all of the crazy upsets that put them back in the title hunt, it was truly a season to remember.


Most memorable game ever covered

The 2012 SEC Championship Gameit isn't even close. The Georgia Dome was deafening from start to finish, as neither team really could hold onto control of the game.

I got down to the field just in time for Amari Cooper's game-winning touchdown and was standing in the end zone where he caught it.

Two physical, talented football teams squared off in a game that I'll remember forever. The national championship wasn't decided in Miami; it was decided in Atlanta.


Is AJ McCarron or T.J. Yeldon likelier to take home the Heisman?

McCarron is. Yeldon is one of the most talented backs in the country. But quarterbacks always get the advantage, and McCarron will have an unparalleled arsenal of weapons with which to work.

Just about anyone on the three-deep at all three receiver spots could start at many schools across the country. Amari Cooper, who headlines the group, could be the best receiver in the country.


Which opponent is the biggest threat to Alabama in 2013?

LSU. I'm not buying the hype behind this year's "Game of the Century" in College Station. The SEC West will be decided in Tuscaloosa on November 9.

Nick Saban's record in "revenge" games speaks for itself, as does his record against Miles and LSU. LSU always comes ready to play in what is usually an NFL Draft preview show as well. And remember the last time the Tigers came to Tuscaloosa?


What adjustments does Kirby Smart need to make to shut down Johnny Manziel in Week 3?

I think the adjustments need to come on the other side of the ball.

The Crimson Tide defense was caught sleeping on its first couple of drives against Manziel but contained him for the most part after that disastrous first quarter.

But the offense couldn't keep up. McCarron threw two interceptions, and the offense never really got going until the deficit was too much. The defense won't be caught by any kind of surprise this year, so it'll be up to the offense to put big points up on the board.


Which freshmen will play the biggest role for Alabama?

Derrick Henry and Reuben Foster.

We've all seen Henry's high school highlight tapesa 6'4" monster bowling through helpless high school defenders. Even at the college level, his size and speed will translate very well.

Foster might not be a regular on defense, but will make his presence known in mop-up duty and on special teams.


2013 Season Prediction for Alabama

At this point, it just doesn't make sense to pick against Saban and Alabama. The Crimson Tide is the most talented, disciplined and well-coached team in the country. I like Alabama to make history and win its fourth BCS title in five years. 


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