HOOVER – Nick Saban spent his summer recuperating from hip replacement surgery and playing some golf – no driver, just irons per doctor’s orders.
He’s had about enough of that.
“This is always about the time when I start shaking my leg again, my knee starts popping,” Saban said Wednesday at SEC Media Days. “I’ve had just about enough of sitting around and relaxing and jumping in the lake.”
Alabama is coming off a season that was one game short of historic and had six months to stew about its national title loss to Clemson. The Crimson Tide team that lost 44-16 to the Tigers in that final game in Santa Clara, California, resembled nothing like the team from the 14 previous games.
“The most important thing going into this season is to re-establish the standard that we’d like to play to, Saban said. “We need players that are going to be responsible and accountable to do their job at a high level and on a consistent basis.
“I think that our players learned a lot from that experience (against Clemson). I think that we didn’t play with the discipline at the end of the season that we’d like to have as a team. I don’t think that our preparation, so that we can go in a game and be very responsible and accountable to do our job at a high level on a consistent basis, was what it needed to be.”
The attitude isn’t the only change Alabama made in the offseason. The coaching staff underwent a major overhaul, adding several new coaches including an offensive and defensive coordinator.
Steve Sarkisian has lots of experience as a coordinator, college and NFL. He’s also got plenty of experience in developing very good quarterbacks, which I think is really, really important in college football and has done a really good job in transition,” Saban said.
“Pete Golding who is the defensive coordinator, he was with us last year, sort of associate coordinator last year, so he’s got a lot of experience and really a fine young coach who reminds me a lot of some of the other young guys that have come up in the organization and had a lot of success.”
The coaching personnel has seen a shakeup but not the team. Despite 10 players getting drafted in the NFL in April, Alabama still has the bulk of its offense returning, including Heisman Trophy runner-up Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback. Also back is Biletnikoff Award winner Jerry Jeudy at receiver, as well as top targets Henry Ruggs III, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle.
“We don’t change systems at Alabama,” Saban said. “So we change the system to effectively take advantage of the players that we have in our program. So that’s what we want to do. Obviously we’ll do some different things and some new things relative to the new coaches that we have, but we also maintain the same system that we’ve had in the past.”