The Nick Saban Show was nice enough to invite me to be the media guest on Thursday night's show, prior to Alabama facing South Carolina.
We covered a variety of topics, but I'm going to go straight to my favorite moment by far:
• During the second segment we got away from football a little, so I took advantage to ask about his recent commercials and specifically about the Aflac duck. It's easily the best question I've asked him this season:
“The duck actually is, maybe they don’t want me to tell you this, but the duck is actually like a puppet,” Saban said. “And there are four gentleman who do the animals in Jurassic Park and some of the other things that actually are pulling the strings on the duck to make the duck … and I mean the duck looks real. I mean, real. It’s a very expensive duck so I guess it should look real.
"But these guys are pulling strings and making this thing walk like a normal duck, the same way they do animals in some of these movies. And when you look at the duck, you really think the duck is real. And when you talk to the duck, you really think the duck is real. So I had a new friend for a while.”
Saban then delivered the punch line.
“Probably like a lot of my friends who are good friends, as long as we win.”
• A fan calling into the show asked Saban if he preferred morning or night kickoffs:
“I think from my perspective as a coach, you always want to have your players have the mindset that whenever they have to play —11 o’clock, 8 o’clock at night — whenever they have to play, they have to be ready to play,” he said. “So, you’ve got to be ready to play the hand that’s dealt you, and you’ve got to be focused and ready to do the best you can, regardless of what your tee-off time is. I mean, that’s just the way it goes.
“But I will say this: I like and I have respect for the fact that our game is entertainment for people, and there’s a lot of fans who come to our games that are a very instrumental part of our team. They create spirit, they’re a part of the tradition, it’s very important for them. And we would like for them to be happy that we’re playing in an atmosphere that is conducive to them being comfortable and enjoying the game and being excited and cheering and all that.
“I really appreciate the people who stayed and kind of went through the heat and some of the difficult circumstances that we had with some of the fans last week in the game. We do appreciate that. I want the stadium to be full. I want to everybody to stay. I want everybody to be there. But I also know that it’s not very comfortable sometimes when we play in certain circumstances.
“Now, from a players’ standpoint, I don’t want to hear any of that."
• Eli Gold pointed out that he only saw one player really cramp up against New Mexico State despite the heat. Saban said they give players IVs at halftime if they have a history of cramping.
• A caller asked if this was the best group of receivers Saban's ever had, and after giving a disclaimer that he's had some outstanding receivers and doesn't like making comparisons between individuals, said “as a group this is probably the best we’ve had, collectively." He added that's especially important since they don't have the balance in the running game right now.
• I asked about having so much speed on special teams, if the philosophy on that had changed a little bit (quite honestly I didn't ask it the best way and he asked me to clarify my question). Saban said that it has, but also that with return units you have to match up personnel sort of like a basketball team with a point guard on a point guard, etc. He added that one of the reasons why Alabama went to a spread punt formation was that they were just about the only ones not using it and consequently had a hard time figuring out how teams would line up against it.
Finally, here's a photo I took during the final moments of the show, when Saban talked about "will" being the key to the game against South Carolina. You'll notice the cards in front of him. The first one on the left is blank, it's in case he wants to make a note of something. The second he bring in with him, it's a list of points he wants to make during the show (for example, when he pointed out the the second-team players were out-performed by New Mexico State, that was on it). On the last one is he writes down the names of people asking questions so he doesn't forget in the middle of an answer.