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UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA MEDIA CONFERENCE

February 6, 2013
Richmond High School



Nick Saban

    COACH SABAN:  ?? who does a good job of serving in the recruiting process in terms of time and attention to the young people.  I think it's important that every guy that was committed to us signed with us today.  I know on days like this, we only have so many spots, and you all list 42 guys in the newspaper that, you know, keep your eye on that we might get today and everybody focuses on the 40 guys that we didn't get but we really only have so many spots to get 'em. So we feel really good about the guys that we were able to attract here.  It's, you know, sort of the reality of recruiting that things will happen this way.  I wish we could give more opportunities to more people, all right, but we all understand the rules that we have to live in and with that we've created, that are very fair for all of us, so, you know, can't get every player.  Just?? it's not going to happen. But we're really pleased with the guys that we have.  I really do want to thank all the people who contributed to this recruiting class, whether it's the University community, the academic staff, our coaching staff, and our?? the people in the athletic administration here who all contribute to the success of recruit and go set the table so we have the facilities and things we need to have a first?class program.  It goes back to the same 'ole, just because you buy the puppy dog with the biggest feet doesn't mean it's going to grow up to be the biggest or best hunting dog.  That's what I learned in West Virginia when I was little.

Q.  With a position like running back are you looking for players that see a really stacked kind of group already and having a bunch of others come in with them and having the mind?set that they want to compete right away? COACH SABAN:  I don't see how we have a stacked group at running back, we have one guy coming back that gained a thousand yards and another guy that carried the ball a few times as a freshman and two guys that got hurt that may or may not be able to come back and play that position well. To me to have good depth at running back you need five really good players.  Three guys usually play a lot.  So I know in your fantasy football world that you put these guys' names down like they all ?? but there are circumstances, all right, that a lot of these?? I think several of the guys that we recruited are going to have lots of opportunities to contribute next year.

Q.  I guess with this class of teams there is about 13 or 14 different states represented, can you talk about the recruiting nation wide and going to places that you haven't landed players before? COACH SABAN:  Well, you know, I think with all the information that's available now it probably is a little easier to at least know who the best players are on a national scope, on a national level, so the geography part of it, even though it's important, because our best recruiting and our best opportunity to land good players is probably going to be within a five?hour radius, but we're still going to be able to get guys from other places, because they're attracted to our conference, they're attracted to the competition that we have here at the University of Alabama and the kind of games we play in, the success that we have had, the opportunity they have academically and for personal development, which is something that we pride ourselves in being able to do as a program. So I think it's?? if you had to do all this by getting out in the car and running around like I used to when I recruited, you could never figure out who the best players in Oklahoma or Nebraska or California or any place far away would be, but now there is so much information it's not so hard to identify. So you can go specifically to evaluate and see a particular player some place that may be far away.  I think the players are more educated in the way they select their schools now and what they're looking for and the opportunities that they're looking for.  So we feel like our state is really important and we feel like doing a great job within a five?hour radius is important but we feel like it's important to do a good job over the top in terms of knowing who the best players are and which one of those players have some interest in Alabama.

Q.  What did you like about Cooper Bateman, specifically, and your quarterback class?  You brought in three guys and had another one walk on.  Are there enough balls to go around in spring practice? COACH SABAN:  We brought in two guys and a third guy, okay?  Well, I think it's critical that some player that we have either in the organization now or that we just recruited can develop into a potential starter for when A.J. graduates.  A.J. has done a great job for us, he provides great leadership and I'm sure he will help the development of these guys by the way he prepares and how he practices. He's always been really helpful in trying to help other people develop at his position, so?? and we thought that we wanted to recruit two quarterbacks.  Luke was a welcome addition because we had recruited him, so we don't think we have too many guys there, but, you know, the way opportunities go, it doesn't happen by seniority, all right, you probably look at it like they only have so many chances.  If a player hasn't taken advantage of those opportunities then somebody else has a turn at getting those chances, and I think that's how we will manage the position a little bit so we see if some of these guys can sort of develop the way we would like to, like to see them.

Q.  Coach, Reuben Foster created the most buzz during the recruiting season, President Obama mentioned him yesterday.  He took to Twitter today to apologize to Auburn fans, to Georgia fans and he also apologized to Alabama fans for being what he calls a "brat."  Do you think he was being rough on himself?  Or do you think he's like every other freshman that you've signed, there is some character development that goes into all of this that you have to coach up? COACH SABAN:  Well, you know, we really think Reuben is a good person and has a good heart.  He's certainly a good football player, but I think he felt bad in some ways by the way he handled his recruiting. I also think all the media attention sometimes can affect these guys and in maybe not the most positive way.  But at the same time, I think that Reuben would like to please everyone, and I think that he's learned in this process that that's very, very difficult and probably impossible to do. I think that's probably what he feels bad about.  But because he does like to please you is one of the reasons he is a very good competitor.  So some of these things that turn out to be or appear to be not good qualities, actually can be very good qualities, if channeled in the right direction.  And I think Reuben came here because he wanted the structure, he wants to get it right, he wants to do things the right way and we want to help him do that and I think he has the right heart and the right character to do it. I would hate to think how I would have managed the attention that he got and a lot of these young people get when I was 17 or 18 years old.  I don't know if I would have been nearly mature enough to manage it the way sometimes people expect it to be managed, especially?? and you know I love the media and I would never, ever put any of this on you all, for creating some of the circumstances that you create that are very difficult for these young guys to manage.

Q.  With the way the game is changing, more passing, etcetera, and teams in the conference are changing, did you have to change your recruiting strategy at all this year? COACH SABAN:  We didn't change the recruiting strategy.  We defined the kind of players that we want and they have critical factors at each position.  Now, I think we added fast?twitch, pass rushing, athletic guys to the defensive line category as being a higher priority, because of spread offenses, more spread offenses, more athletic quarterbacks, those types of things.  The same things that NFL teams are talking about when they play against RG III or Kaepernick or the guy from Seattle who are athletic and run the ball.  We have to be able to adapt to that athleticism and that means we have to be more athletic to do that.

Q.  Coach, I know you can't comment on anybody who hasn't signed but can you tell us if the class is finished as of right now?  And secondly, can you comment on the players in this class that can help your depth at corner back? COACH SABAN:  Well, I think one of the primary objectives of this recruiting class was to satisfy some of the needs we had at corner.  All four DBs that we recruited are guys that we feel can play corner.  They may be able to play safety but we feel like they can play corner. We're certainly going to try to develop each one of those guys to see if they can do that, and we feel like each one of them has the ability to do it.  We tried to get a little bigger guys that had more size potential that could play a little more physical, because we see more and more bigger receivers. And we'll see how these guys develop, but we certainly liked what we saw in these guys, and we're certainly hopeful that they turn out to be all we think they can be because there is another opportunity there for some of these guys maybe to contribute to next year's team.  You know, we have had freshman play here in the secondary before and do a good job and maybe some of these guys can do the same thing. What was the second part of your question?

Q.  (No microphone.) COACH SABAN:  That may or may not be.  We're open?ended.  We would only add someone to the class if it satisfied a need for us or the guy was a special player.

Q.  Coach, could you take us behind the scenes with you and the assistant coaches on a day like today as those faxes come in?  What's it like?  Are there a lot of high five's, relief or what? COACH SABAN:  I think I get my excitement when a guy makes a commitment.  Because we believe in commitments and maybe we have old?fashioned values.  Most of the guys?? I know the guys that commit really, really early, you almost expect that there may be some bumpy road ahead because eventually the guy will probably want to look someplace else or whatever, may decommit, which I don't think is good for anybody and maybe we should look at some kind of rules in college football so that this does not become a one?sided sort of deal. Right now we make commitments to guys and if we ever change those, that's taboo, can't do it, but y'all are happy when guys change commitments because it creates news and you're happy to right about it and give somebody attention for doing it. None of that really is good, in my opinion, for the game, it's not good for the development of young people in terms of the kind of responsibility that you would like to be able to sort of have as part of your principles and values in their development. It happens, it's part of the game, so we all have to deal with it.  But what I spent a lot of time on today is next year's recruiting.  I congratulate the guys when they call in but I basically feel like, other than a couple of guys today, we felt really comfortable and confident with the guys that we had that were committed that they would all end up signing here and it happened exactly that way. So it's not a lot of?? I think we're all relieved when it finally gets done, but we spend?? I spend a lot of time always on signing day starting on next year's recruiting.  So it's not what you think.  It's not the drama that you create.  That's for the fans, not for us.  My nervous breakdown comes the last two weeks, trying to get everybody where you want 'em to be.  I must admit I didn't sleep real good last night.  I think it was anxiety.  That's it?  Okay, I'm good, thanks, guys.


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