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Alabama Football: How Nick Saban Makes the Most of the Bye Week

ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 31:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide converses with the officials after a penalty during the game against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Georgia Dome on August 31, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Marc TorrenceAlabama Lead WriterJanuary 10, 2017

TUSCALOOSA, Ala.—Senior safety Vinnie Sunseri brushed off the question.

Has this been unusual having a bye week so early in the season?

"It hasn't really been a bye week with Coach Saban," Sunseri said. "He's been ready to come get after us. We're excited for the opportunity, and I kind of like a week like this."

Alabama coach Nick Saban's record coming off of a bye week—or more than a week of preparation—isn't necessarily as impressive as you might think. He's just 7-3 since 2008. But he has it down to a science, just like every other aspect of his program.

And all in his three losses, the teams had just as long to prepare as he did—either a bye or a bowl game.

2008Ole Miss24-20W
2008Utah31-17L
2009LSU24-15W
2009Texas37-21W
2010LSU24-21L
2010Michigan State49-7W
2011LSU9-6L
2011LSU21-0W
2012Missouri42-10W
2012Notre Dame42-14W

The first thing Saban does is not start team-specific preparations too soon.

"I think that you can work too long on one team and the players get bored and lose focus after awhile," Saban said. "That's not really a good thing."

He said that a week and a half before the Virginia Tech game, but it applies to bye weeks too. Alabama has been practicing all week but only started Texas A&M preparations today.

The scout team started giving A&M looks Thursday, but the rest of the week was spent correcting the mistakes from the Virginia Tech game.

Saban is already a perfectionist and makes sure no detail is missed. The bye week only gives him more time to prepare for an opponent—watch extra film, scout and game-plan.

And it's not like the post-bye week losses came against scrub teams either. Utah was a stacked team that caught Alabama asleep. LSU in 2010 gave the Crimson Tide its second of three losses that year. And Alabama saw LSU in the national championship again in 2011.

Texas A&M doesn't have an extra week to prepare—barely. It will face Sam Houston State in a tune-up for the biggest game of the college football season.

Alabama has a lot of issues to correct since its season-opener against Virginia Tech. But it has plenty of time and preparation to do so.

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