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The Jumbo Package: 08-09-10

Ron Higgins: Not so fast on Tide repeating l The Commercial Appeal

For anyone who thinks an inexperienced secondary and special teams is our greatest challenge this season, think again:

Saban has always prided himself on controlling everything and everybody around him. Because he figures when he can't do that, he has situations that turn into distractions that take away his team's focus.

With the season just under a month away, he's dealing with the recurring problem of agents getting to one of his best players, something he can't control.

And curiously, he allowed a company to film a documentary that will be released Sept. 10. The movie "Nick Saban, Gamechanger" opens Sept. 10 in Memphis at the Malco Paradiso. Saban plays himself.

Also on the first days of practice, Saban allowed ESPN all-access, including quarterback Greg McElroy wearing a camera on his helmet.

Oh yeah, and there's that statue of Saban outside Bryant-Denny Stadium that will finally be revealed once they get the hair right.

While Higgins has a point that the increased exposure a national title brings you puts more pressure on a team and its staff, if Nick Saban considered the documentary and ESPN crews a serious distraction do you think he would have let them set one foot on campus?  Me either.  But I am worried that he's losing sleep over the statue.  The hair has to be perfect.

Tide's roster recipe: one cup of Shula holdovers, one gallon of Saban stars, mix, stir, bake . . . behold |

One of the more ludicrous knocks on Saban by rivals desperate to diminish all that he's accomplished since coming to Alabama is that "he won with Shula's players."  While it is certainly true that key members of the last two seasons have been Shula recruits, that completely ignores both the more than significant contributions of players that weren't only recruited by Saban, but players that would have never considered Alabama were it not for Saban, and also the fact that Saban got more out of Shula's players than Shula ever did.  When asked about the difference in the Shula and Saban years, Greg McElroy had this to say:

"The talent was there in my first year," he said. "It's just, was the mindset there? And it wasn't. That was the tough thing. We had a lot of negative leadership. We had a lot of guys not buying into what (Shula) had to say. It wasn't from a recruiting sense, though. He brought in a lot of good players." There is one key difference between now and then. "We have a lot more depth now," McElroy said.

As for the buying in part, as always Saban says it best:

"The personality of our team has basically come from players buying in, regardless of who brought them in," Saban said. "That has never been an issue."

Smart happy with decision to stay |

Another tidbit from yesterday's rare opportunity to hear from the coordinators:

"The University of Georgia has a special place in my heart," Smart said. "I spent five years there, coached there a year under Mark Richt, so I have an immense respect for him and the program. But I got a great opportunity here. Coach (Nick) Saban has been very good to me in the six years I've worked for him and I've learned a lot of football from Coach Saban."

It was no real shock that Smart chose to stay at Alabama instead of making a lateral move in his career last season, so I love the "I got a great opportunity here" line.  Saban has been very up front in his appreciation of the "head coach in waiting" concept, and even though the NCAA has tried to limit that with recruiting restrictions, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if one of his selling points in keeping Smart around was "stick with me and you'll be my successor here."

Tide coordinators quietly playing big roles -

And speaking of, I've said plenty of times that Kirby Smart has effectively become a Nick Saban clone and that's the biggest reason they have been so successful together, and now Smart is echoing that sentiment to SI:

"There's a lot of familiarity between coach Saban and I," Smart said. "He's very organized and very detailed. He understands I know those details and I demand those same details. We might be doing a practice schedule and I know where he's going and some of that goes unspoken. "We know how we want the drill done. He knows how he wants the drill done. I know how he wants the drills done. It's ultimately his soldiers', his staff's, job to get it done."

and etc.

Stadium market to allow public access year-round |

University of Alabama administrators plan to use the area as a launchpad for stadium tours and tours of the campus given to prospective students and parents by admissions staff. Also, two eateries — Zoe’s Kitchen and Yogurt Lab — will set up shop this fall in the marketplace and be open year-round.

"The stadium won’t be unlocked or open, but it’ll be an area where people can come in and look inside," said Mal Moore, UA athletics director. "Mainly, it’s to be a service to people who come on campus and students who walk by it. It’s a perfect place to do it."

Bear Bryant Bests Peyton Manning | Chattanooga Times Free Press

In a side note that has to delight area Alabama fans, an art print of Bear Bryant signed by the late legendary coach fetched $1,500 at an auction following the dinner while an official UT game jersey autographed by Peyton Manning brought just $400, proving yet again that nobody beats the Bear in SEC country.

Vols take a hit at defensive tackle - SEC Blog

I don't pity the Vols one bit (Karma, etc.), but poor Dooley.  Dude is snake bit or something.