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Thoughts From Saban PC

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Aside from the entertainment value to be found in belittling annoying and obnoxious reporters, over the past year we've also discovered that Coach Saban's press conferences tend to be quite insightful. To say that Saban is not fond of the sports media is about like saying The Fat One is not fond of Weight Watchers, and as a result Saban himself tends to shy away from the media. However, when he does speak, he usually reveals quite a bit if you pay close attention. Let's look at a few random thoughts after watching the Saban presser earlier today.

  • First and foremost, Jeremy Elder is done. Saban officially announced that he had been dismissed from the team, and he has left the university. No shock there, that kid was done from the second the news initially broke on his arrest. I'm afraid we all know where Elder will end up in all likelihood, but in terms of the University of Alabama and the Crimson Tide football squad, Elder is dust in the wind.
  • Prince Hall is, I think in all likelihood, done at Alabama, too. Tuscaloosa is a long way from Northern California, and he has had some pretty public bouts of homesickness, as well. He was never dedicated in the weight room -- remember Kines' comment saying he was one biscuit away from putting his hand down? -- immediately found his way into Saban's doghouse last year, and is now in it again. Not only has Hall been "suspended" -- a term that is often relatively meaningless and lacks any real punishment -- he will not participate in Spring practice, and he has not been participating in the off-season S&C program. At this point, I'm not even sure he is currently on campus. Obviously, this is far from your token, slap on the wrist suspension; this is very serious stuff. He may return, mind you, but I think the odds are probably at this point that Hall is done at Alabama. Dont'a Hightower, you better be ready to go ASAP come August.
  • Rashad Johnson was not suspended for his recent disorderly conduct arrest, and that's not shocking, I suppose. I'm sure he will be punished in some variety, but obviously Saban did not feel the incident was serious enough to warrant any serious punishment. And in fact, Saban was very defensive of Johnson, noting that he hopes his kids eventually develop the character he has, and that he was going to wait until the "due process" had ran its course to do anything to him. Combined with Freddie Roach's comments in a radio interview for 1420 AM -- he was at the Legacy and basically disagreed with how the entire thing went down and how it was reported -- perhaps there is more to this than we currently know.
  • Kevin Steele, formerly the defensive coordinator, was promoted to the title of associate head coach and head defensive coach, while former DB coach Kirby Smart was given the title of defensive coordinator. Saban said Steele would work on the defensive front, while Smart would focus on coverage, but noted that all decisions would still run through him. Coachspeak translation: It's still Saban's defense, and he'll do whatever in the hell he wants to do, whenever he wants to do it.
  • Saban noted that the change in titles for Steele and Smart was largely a function of trying to keep both of them on the staff. Saban has openly gushed previously about what a high quality coach Steele is, and Smart is highly regarded as well. Both were courted for other jobs this past off-season, and Steele in particular -- who has previous experience as a head coach at Baylor -- could have easily left if he had wanted to. Though we've held onto them for now, I believe they won't around for too much longer. These guys are seemingly destined to be head coaches in the near future.
  • When the subject turned to Zeke Knight, Saban was obviously a bit unnerved about the entire situation. I'm afraid that only adds further gravity to Knight's medical melodrama. He also confirmed that Knight was still undergoing further medical evaluations, and was not participating in the off-season S&C program. Considering the latter, I think you can almost bet your bottom dollar at this point that he does not partake in Spring practice. Though it is a shame to admit, the odds seem pretty good that Knight might not be able to return. It's a shame because he has NFL talent written all over him, and Lord knows we need him in the worst way at linebacker. Hopefully he can, first and foremost, get healthy and perhaps then be able to play for us this Fall, but the situation is very gloomy.
  • Though Saban never explicitly expressed concern in this press conference, he only mentioned the opportunity to develop younger players, you can quickly deduce that we suddenly have major problems at linebacker. We effectively only used five guys last year at linebacker -- Keith Saunders, Darren Mustin, Zeke Knight, Rolando McClain, and Prince Hall -- and we might only have one of those guys (McClain) around next year. If both Hall and Knight are gone, I think it basically means just about every true freshman linebacker we will have next year will be gone. And as for Spring, only God knows what we are going to do. We might be holding tryouts on the Quad to find a few scout team dummies.
  • Saban addressed several players who were injured, and said they all had off-season surgery, but that they should be able to partake in Spring practice. That group includes Demetrius Goode (knee), Patrick Crump (knee), Colin Peek (knee), Jimmy Johns (knee), Rolando McClain (thumb and wrist), Roy Upchurch (thumb), Milton Talbert (shoulder), and Terry Grant (sports hernia). Some of those surgeries were probably pretty minor, but several of them were more serious (Goode, Grant, etc.) Though Saban said that they would all participate in Spring practice, I really do wonder just how much they will participate. I imagine that several will be held out of the contact work.
  • Conspicuously absence from the discussion, and in particular the detailed discussion of injuries, was Chris Lett. Of all of the players he mentioned with medical problems that would partake in Spring practice, he never said one word about Lett. This only makes me think that he is more likely to end up on medical scholarship. If he was very detailed about the other players injury status and how they would participate this Spring, then why not Lett?