The Thursday night edition of “The Nick Saban Show,” his weekly call-in program, remains some of the best under-the-radar college football listening available — it’s really sort of a Saban podcast, with the questions usually serving as little more than springboards for the coach to go diving off into whatever direction his mind takes him.
This Thursday’s show was calmer than last week’s first edition. There was no ranting, no frantic scramble for a seven-second delay button that didn’t exist. Saban talked a bit about the team, a bit more about old times and how players used to be. If there was anything even mildly controversial, it might have been his comment about Georgia State’s upset of Tennessee last Saturday.
“Everybody takes everything for granted. I mean, I’m sure there (were) a lot of Tennessee fans last week that took it for granted that they were going to beat Georgia State, and they didn’t. So, you’ve got to play well and you should support well all the time, as well.”
You’d have to squint through 4X reading glasses to find a sideways shot at UT or former Saban assistant Jeremy Pruitt in that statement. Saban’s theme throughout the show was the need for fans to show up Saturday and be supportive, even though the opponent, New Mexico State, is now a 55-point underdog.
“Our fans should look at the game the same way our players do,” Saban said. “I’ve always said: Why would we expect the players to compete in the game for 60 minutes (if) we’re not willing to support them as fans for 60 minutes?
“I know a lot of people are concerned about, it’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon, it’s going to be hot. Well let’s make that an advantage for us.”
Saban had more to say about the afternoon heat (“I’d love to play all night games in September in Alabama, a’ight?”). The topic has been discussed on my Twitter feed this week, not necessarily because of this single, particular 97-degree scorcher coming up but because “television,” that invisible hand that controls all things, has handed Alabama brutal September schedules for five years in a row. That’s probably a topic that can be revisited on Monday, with the next round of television times (for Sept. 21 games) coming out. No one is urging a boycott. If you choose to go, hydrate. Saban had the same message.
Saban did touch on a few on-the-field topics for the upcoming game. Expect to see Skyler DeLong get a look as the Crimson Tide punter should the opportunity arise on Saturday, if only to ease some of the pressure that the triple-kicking role (placekicking, kickoffs and punts) places on freshman Will Reichard’s leg. Also, although, Saban would never say this directly, there will probably be more liberal substitution at several positions than UA used against Duke.
Finally, Saban had an anecdote about what may have been, in some ways, his dream job, as an assistant coach at Navy in 1982.
“You coach the greatest young people in the world at the Naval Academy,” he said “It was crazy. I would get on a guy and he’d keep saying ‘Yes sir,’ and it would make me mad.
“I’d say, ‘If you say ‘Yes sir’ one more time, I’m going to kick you in the butt. And then he would say ‘Yes sir.”
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @cecilhurt