Today was really the only day of interest to Alabama fans, as Nick Saban took the podium along with Damien Harris, Anfernee Jennings, and Ross Pierschbacher. As expected, the legendary coach drew the most interest and had plenty to say.
On the quarterback situation, he would say nothing other than “We’ll see” and “To be determined.” He was then asked if he thought Jalen Hurts would still be on the roster week one, and his answer gave a rather explosive headline to the clickbaiters.
“I have no idea. I expect him to be there. I think it’s our job to give both players a very fair opportunity to have a chance to win the team at their position. I think that one of the two guys -- obviously, both are capable.”
“We certainly would love for every player on our team to stay at the University of Alabama and graduate. Jalen has a great opportunity to do that in December. So, we are hopeful that he will stay there and be a graduate regardless of what his circumstance is as a player.”
That should likely be taken as a dodge of the question.
Some reporter asked him about UCF, and whether their being left out of the playoff proves the system is broken. His response:
“I don’t think the system is broken. You’re entitled to your own opinion, I’m entitled to mine. We played a very difficult schedule and lost one game, and played against a great Clemson team and a great Georgia team, and nobody else beat both teams to get to where we got so you can make whatever claim you wanna make.”
He was empathetic and congratulatory to UCF when speaking with Orlando Sentinel reporter Mike Bianchi.
“I think this is also one of the better recruiting staffs that we’ve had, and I think that’s going to be beneficial for us in the future as well.”
“With six new coaches this year, a new offensive coordinator, new defensive coordinator, new special teams coordinator, I am really pleased with the transition, how the players have sort of responded from relationship standpoint with all of those coaches, how those coaches have done a very good job of buying into the things that we want to do and how we want to do them. The new energy and enthusiasm and ideas that they brought to the organization I think are going to be a long-term positive.”
That ought to scare the bejesus out of everybody.
On rumors that Jeremy Pruitt was disrespectful to Mark Richt during his lone season in Athens:
“I have never seen that side, and it’s really surprising to me to hear people say that, because I’ve never seen it. That’s not to say that it didn’t happen, I don’t know that, but I can only judge people by how they treat me and the job they do with us, and Jeremy Pruitt did a fantastic job for us.”
That about wraps up Saban’s comments.
Damien Harris was his usual impressive self in front of the microphone. Early on someone tried to bait him with the UCF nonsense, and he brushed it off, saying that he “lost interest.” On why he came back to Alabama for his senior season:
“I just love Tuscaloosa. I love being a part of The University of Alabama, and that is something that brings me a lot of happiness. The mindset across the entire University of Alabama is that we are champions, whether it is from an academic standpoint or an athletic standpoint. I love walking down the street in Tuscaloosa and somebody rolling down their windows when they drive by and yelling ‘Roll Tide’. There are just so many things about being a part of The University of Alabama and living in Tuscaloosa that bring us so much joy as athletes. Coming back for my senior year wasn’t hard.”
Love that kid.
Ross Pierschbacher was asked about, of course, the quarterbacks, and had this to say:
“You can sit there and say all you want about I’m going to be this type of leader or whatever, but I think that it’s about proving it on the field. That’s with any position really. Going into fall camp, we’ve got a lot of practices ahead of us, scrimmages and those two can separate themselves. By their play and whoever puts us in the most successful position to win.”
As you might imagine, the main question for Anfernee was his knee, which he says is 100%.
In general, this was a fairly run-of-the-mill event, and Saban wouldn’t have it any other way. There was never a chance that Jalen Hurts or Tua Tagovailoa would be anywhere near the place. Saban chose three mature senior leaders to represent the program, and they succeeded in fine fashion.
Videos of all four participants are embedded below for your viewing pleasure.