TUSCALOOSA, Ala.—Alabama coach Nick Saban is good for one or two press conference blowups every season.
Whether it's about sacks, the depth chart, or how Missouri joining the SEC affects the Tennessee rivalry, Saban will find a question he doesn't like and tell you just why he doesn't like it. It usually involves a louder volume, a piercing glare and a swear word or two.
Saban only achieved two of those three conditions today in his first press conference since Alabama's 35-10 victory over Virginia Tech. But after a lackluster performance by the Alabama offense, a testy Saban should be good news for the Crimson Tide fanbase.
In his opening statement, Saban targeted players who needed a "wake-up call":
"We live in a society now where everybody wants to do what they want to do.
"Nobody wants to be obedient. Nobody wants to pay attention to rules or whatever. When you make a rule you've got to have your dog on a leash, somebody wants to have their dog not on a leash. That's the way it is.
"We can't have a team of people like that. We've got rules, we've got things that people need to buy into, be committed to, principles and values of the organization. Everybody's got to do it."
His first question was about how younger receivers like Chris Black could get on the field and see playing time. Then he got a series of questions about young players like Derrick Henry, Altee Tenpenny, A'Shawn Robinson and O.J. Howard.
"You know, what I’d like to ask is, we’ve got a lot of really good players around here, all right, that really play like crazy, like C.J. Mosley.
"The guy plays every play in the game and on two special teams, he’s running down the sidelines with Christion Jones, faster than Christion Jones is, cuts the angle off the safety so the guy can run for a touchdown. Why isn’t somebody asking about him? What’s wrong with asking about him and what kind of player he is and how did he do? Because I mean, that guy does fantastic. Aight?"
And then he finally got a question about an experienced player: quarterback AJ McCarron and his mobility.
"I’m, you know, sort of sick and tired of talking about this B.S. Aight? 'Cause it’s nothing. Aight?" he responded.
Alabama fans haven't been happy with the Crimson Tide's 25-point victory over Virginia Tech—a product of the sustained success they have enjoyed under Saban. Fans expect the most from their team, and they expect to see the same expectations in their head coach.
Saban usually obliges.
Everything Saban does revolves around one thing: winning football games. That includes recruiting, interacting with boosters and alumni, talking to fans, dealing with players and, yes, talking to the media.
Saban can use the media for recruiting, something that obviously helps him have success. Before last season, I asked him how junior college transfer Deion Belue had picked up his "complicated defense" to earn a starting spot.
"Why do you say the defense is complicated?" he quipped back, not wanting to scare off a potential recruit.
He can use it to get a message across to his team. Before last season's Western Kentucky game—after a throttling of Michigan had people raving about a possible repeat already—he went on a rant about the media not respecting the Hilltoppers.
"We win one game and I can't believe what gets written," he said.
Those comments were directed at his players as much as they were directed at the media. It's one thing to hear from your coach that you're not handling success well, but it's another to turn on the TV and have your girlfriend, your family and your friends hear it from him too.
Tuesday was no different. Alabama struggled, especially on offense, against an upper-tier ACC team—nothing to be ashamed about for most teams, but Alabama isn't most teams. Saban will use every outlet possible—especially the media—to get his message across to his players.
And the fans love it, too. I got multiple tweets from fans happy to hear that Saban was in a foul mood after Saturday's showing.
He had been strangely calm during fall camp. Sure, he'd have a snide remark here and there, but nothing like today.
Saban is back to being frustrated at a team that won by 25 points against a quality opponent in its season opener. That's a good thing for Alabama—and a scary thing for the rest of college football.
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