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Jumbo Package: Recapping Alabama’s participation in SEC Media Days 2023

Nick Saban, Kool-Aid McKinstry, Dallas Turner, and J.C. Latham all had significant camera time.

NCAA Football: SEC Media Day Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Here was Nick’s first interview of the day, and despite many attempts to ask some questions with a little levity, Saban didn’t have a lot of patience for it this year like he has in the last few years.

Take that as you will.

Following that, we have his full speech and Q&A for Media Days:

It’s a 35 minute press conference, so Saban definitely said a whole lot in this one. For the most part, it’s many of the same non-answers we’re used to from him over the last 15 years, but here’s a few things that stood out to me:

The new coordinators seemed to be a big thing for Nick. And with that, he repeatedly mentioned a couple of things: that the coordinators had to learn the Alabama offensive and defensive playbooks, and that Tommy Rees was, first and foremost, doing a great job with bringing energy and a strong mentality to the offense with his ability to connect with players and “present” concepts.

I think this can assuage some Tide fans’ fears that Alabama is going to be turning into an archaic run-the-ball offense with Rees on board.

Next, when talking about the position groups, Saban pretty much said “they’re developing” in about 10 different ways for every position... Except running back. For the running backs, he just said “We have good runners” and moved on. That kind of matter-of-factness spoke volumes for his confidence in the group, in my opinion.

We also got a whole lot of repetition of his spiel on the QBs, and how there is no decision to be made yet, as they’re still waiting on someone to really separate himself.

Moving on, here’s Kool-Aid McKinstry:

This first one’s video feed messed up part of the way through, but the audio was fine.

For the most part, Kool-Aid, despite his fun name and hair, is a masterclass at giving perfectly politically correct answers on everything. In other words, we got almost nothing useful out him. However, his comments on Caleb Downs were encouraging. Kool-Aid talked a lot about how Downs is always at the facility before everyone else trying to learn the playbook and how he’s doing all the little things right in regards to his physical training with his body.

Next, here’s J.C. Latham in a couple of different press conferences:

Through both interviews, Latham’s personality really seemed to shine through as a guy who’s really, really angry about losing and has that sort of internal drive and chip on his shoulder. If the rest of the team, or at least the OL, can feed off of his personality, they could wind up being really nasty.

If you’re not ready to run through a brick wall after this, I don’t know what to tell you.

Finally, here’s Dallas Turner:

Like with Kool-Aid, Dallas did his best not to provide us with any soundbites. Caleb Downs did work his way into the press conference, though. I think that’s a freshman that’s about to have a huge impact.

In any case, here’s a quick flurry of links to other websites trying to go in-depth on various quotes from these pressers:

Count Latham as one who’s expecting a big step forward from the offensive line.

“We’re gonna shock the world,” the veteran responded when the SEC Network’s Peter Burns asked about this year’s unit. “I think we’re a really physical group. We’ve got guys who are committed to being great, guys who are committed to giving great effort every single day and understanding what we have to do to be great because obviously, we lost Bryce Young and Will Anderson. We know that losing those two guys, everyone has to step up and do their job.”

“Grandma Saban used to bake the best cakes in the world,” Saban said, “and I used to stand by the oven when I was a kid and say, ‘When is this cake going to be done? When is this cake going to be done?’ She said, “If I don’t let it go through and take it out of the oven too soon, it will turn to mush and it won’t be a really good cake.’

“So I think we have to sort of let this develop and make sure we let the cake bake until somebody separates themselves. And all the players are working hard. They all have a good attitude. They are all competing well.”

Saban turns 72 in October but remarked Wednesday at SEC media days to begin his 17th season at Alabama that he is feeling much younger.

“I still feel like I’m 39,” Saban said.

The comment came when Saban was asked about new offensive coordinator Tommy Rees, a former Notre Dame quarterback who is 31. Saban did not make much of the age gap between him and Rees, instead complimenting the former Irish play-caller for his maturity and relationship building with players.

“The guy is hungry, wants to learn,” Saban said of Rees.

The energy seems to be a theme for Saban’s team as it enters the 2023 season. Earlier in the morning, Saban paid the same compliment to his team as a whole as he did Rees.

“I think we have a pretty good mindset on our team,” he said. “Our team seems to be pretty hungry this year and motivated.”

In recruiting news, Alabama secured a punter for the class of 2024:

Alabama picked up its 15th commitment of the 2024 class with in-state punter Anderson Green (Tuscaloosa, Ala.). Green is the No. 25-ranked punter in the country, according to Kohl’s Kicking Camps.

“Playing for Alabama has been a dream for me since I was a little kid,” Green told Bama247. “I’m thankful for this opportunity and chance to continue my athletic and academic journey.”

Word is that Green is joining as a preferred walk-on, though I haven’t seen that officially confirmed anywhere. In any case, it’ll be good to go ahead and get him in the program a year ahead of time before he’s needed to be the starter.

Finally, I usually hate to link to anything Goodman writes, but this was, admittedly, a really good piece of writing about Nick Saban:

It would be foolish to sleep on Alabama this season, but the Crimson Tide sure feels sleepy with Saban approaching his 16th season in Tuscaloosa. Know why? Because that’s the way he wants it.

In college football, there is everything before Saban at Alabama, and there is everything after his arrival. Saban is the flood myth. Saban is the Ford Motor Company. Saban is “Jaws.” No one is counting that shark’s teeth to measure how it changed motion pictures forever or rewired everyone’s brains at the beach.

Swim into those waters at your own risk, but just know that the shadow moving through the depths of the ocean absolutely loathes the idea of you even trying to enjoy a vacation. Maybe Saban isn’t winning a national championship this season, but I’m also not about to question the bite radius of nature’s ultimate killing machine.

Roll Tide!