"I just want to make everybody understand here that we're not in any conversations about anything other than the game that we're playing," he said early in his Monday press conference that kicked off Iron Bowl week. "Unless we win the next game, we don't have another game. We're trying to work our way into a conversation by how we play. We're not trying to hold a position. We're trying to create one by what we do and how we play."
On the decreased number of forced turnovers: "If I knew the explanation and could fix it, we would. We emphasize turnovers, we emphasized turnovers the same way in the first half of the season, which I used to get asked questions, ‘what are you doing different this year that you didn’t do last year when you didn’t get turnovers?’ We did the same things then that we do now and we got turnovers. We are doing the same things now that we did in the first part of the season and we are not getting turnovers. We continue to emphasize it, taking care of the ball, we have also put the ball on the ground more in the last couple of games – so a combination of both of those things. Getting the turnovers is really critical and something that we want to continue to work on and emphasize, and ball security on offense is also critical because turnover ratio is paramount in being successful. I think it is one of the leading stats in winning and losing and e haven’t done ourselves any favors in the last couple of games."
"We learned a valuable lesson Texas A&M week and we can easily lose another game and learn another lesson, which we're trying to avoid," said senior safety Robert Lester. "We had a leader (Square) step up and talk ... and let the guys know, 'Hey, Oregon and Kansas State, they learned a lesson that we learned the week before.' There are a lot of lessons to be learned in college football."
Alabama leads college football's most intense in-state rivalry by a 41-34-1 margin, yet Auburn holds a 17-13 edge in the past 30 meetings and a 7-3 advantage in the last 10. The two rivals have won the past three BCS championships. "I came here on my official visit, and you already know who is a rival," Alabama senior guard Chance Warmack said. "You know who plays at the end of each season and how big of a deal it is to the players, the fans and the coaches. It's a big deal for everyone, and it is an exciting thing to be a part of."
"I personally think Gene Chizik has done a really good job. All I know is playing against him, it's always a tough game," Saban said. "They're always well coached and they're always well prepared, and that's all I can really comment about. I think that sometimes that the standard that everybody wants all of us to play to is not something that is a continuum. … I fully understand that two years from now if we don't continue to have a good team, then I'll be in the same seat that other people are in now. It's the nature of the beast in our profession."
"I enjoy coaching, I enjoy the challenges. I enjoy working with the players, trying to prepare them. I look forward to the opportunity we've created for ourselves. It's what great competitors, or people who like to compete, really enjoy doing. That's what you work for, to have an opportunity to win a division, win a big rivalry game, whatever the emphasis might be. That's what we work for. That's what's fun. From a coach's perspective, we need to be positive and energetic about the fact that we have this opportunity. We can't as coaches get all uptight and expect the players not to get all uptight. We need to approach this in a positive way. We need to coach and teach them to have the best opportunity they can to be successful in the game, and do that in a positive way. We need to focus on what they might create for themselves, not what they might lose. That's going to be the approach we take. It's always the approach we take. Hopefully our players will respond to it the right way."
"You get bragging right for 365 days," said Alabama senior safety Robert Lester, a former Foley High School standout. "That's saying a lot. "I've got friends that this game means a lot to, and if we lose this game, they're going to have a lot to say to me." Actually, he said he has an annual bet with a former high school classmate. "If we win, he has to take a picture in Alabama gear," Lester said, "and if we lose, I have to take a picture in Auburn gear. And I do not like dressing up in orange and blue."
Offensive guard Chance Warmack said he was asleep in his dorm room, relaxing after Alabama's 49-0 win over Western Carolina earlier in the day. "I had just woke up," he said. "Somebody was like, 'Hey, watch television.' I was like, 'Oh, for real?' So I clicked on and watched it. But at the same time you can't really control what happens. You've got to stay focused on the task at hand -- and that's Auburn."
Like last year, the sudden wave of chaos opens the door for the SEC, and specifically for Alabama: The Crimson Tide only spent one week in the wilderness following their loss to Texas A&M, and will be back in the BCS Championship Game for the third time in four years with a win over Georgia for the SEC title. (At No. 3 in the latest standings, Georgia can punch its ticket with an upset over the Bama, making the SEC Championship on Dec. 1 a de facto play-in game for the national championship.) Unlike last year, the purge has left a new, equally certain status quo in its wake: If they win their season finale Saturday at USC – against a reeling Trojan outfit that will be playing without its star quarterback – the Fighting Irish will be a sizable underdog against the SEC champion for the BCS crown on Jan. 7. Which is no doubt how they would prefer it. Then again, by now we should know that the only real certainty when it comes to the status quo in the BCS standings is constant un-certainty. But Notre Dame has broken every other assumption, so there is no reason standard issue chaos shouldn't succumb to Irish consistency, too.
In May, the Maryland assembly passed a set of tax increases to ward off what lawmakers called the "Doomsday Budget." That budget, if put into effect, would have severely cut state spending on education. As a result, students at the University of Maryland would have had to pay more in tuition. The state faced two unattractive options: soak taxpayers more or jack up the costs for students. This time, lawmakers chose to hit the taxpayers. Given the nation's current economic conditions, the Maryland assembly will certainly face this choice again. No matter what it decides, someone will be unhappy. The only way to avoid raising costs for either group is if a school such as Maryland could find a privately funded revenue stream that would bring in more money without asking taxpayers or students to foot more of the bill. What if I told you one department at Maryland found such a revenue stream? Every dollar the new stream brings in is a dollar that won't have to come from a tax increase or a tuition hike. This would be wonderful news, wouldn't it? So why does everyone hate Maryland's move to the Big Ten?