TUSCALOOSA, Alabama – The settings and faces will differ as Nick Saban makes his way from room to room next week at SEC Media Days.
The questions he’ll be answering? Probably not.
In various ways, shapes and syntaxes, the Alabama football coach will field the same sorts of questions wherever he goes during his allotted time next Thursday. You’d think with 1,000+ media members present, the questions would vary more, but they don’t.
Trust us on this.
With that in mind, we’re picking out the three that will stand out the most. No matter where Saban goes on that wild day in Hoover, he’ll have an answer ready — early, at that — for the following questions.
1. Any update on the quarterback situation, particularly when it pertains to Florida State transfer Jacob Coker?
– Odds are, Saban’s answer won’t differ much from the many times he addressed this line of questioning throughout his many stops on the Crimson Caravan. He might even say, “I’ve never seen the guy throw a ball,” like he did at SEC Spring Meetings in May because the interactions between coaches and players during the summer are highly regulated by the NCAA. Sure, Coker hasn’t participated in a single official practice, but that understandably won’t stop the questions. Expect Saban to be quick to strike down any assumptions about Coker being the frontrunner and single out Blake Sims and Cooper Bateman as a reminder that they’re still in the competition.
2. What adjustments will this year’s defense make in the wake of its struggles against the uptempo offenses of Texas A&M, Auburn and Oklahoma?
– It was a theme throughout the offseason last year and it doesn’t promise to go anywhere soon — certainly not after the 10-second rule kerfuffle that dominated headlines in February and early March. Saban went out of his way to distance himself from the controversial rule proposal, which ultimately went nowhere, but he hasn’t been around this many reporters at one time since, well, last year’s SEC Media Days, so it will inevitably come up. When it pertains to his team and this particular season, expect plenty of questions about how Alabama will learn from its shortcomings of the recent past, how much “fastball” has been stressed throughout the past few months and whether or not the Crimson Tide is in a better spot personnel-wise to slow down the speediest of attacks.
3. How does Alabama bounce back from last year’s disappointing finish and win its fourth national championship of the Saban era?
– It’s simple and probably a bit general, but it will emerge as one of the biggest themes over the next few months. It’s a change of pace from the past two years, when questions largely centered on how Alabama could avoid the complacency that consumed it in 2010 and repeat as national champions. The three-peat never happened, and now the narrative shifts to how the Crimson Tide can use 2013 as its new motivation. It came up plenty of times throughout a spring in which Saban’s moments of optimism largely outnumbered the times when he criticized the team. He’ll be a full three months removed from A-Day, so perhaps the message will change. Otherwise, expect something along these lines.
“I think the challenge for our team is if you want to continue to have success on a consistent basis, everyone has to buy in to the process of the system of what we do,” Saban said after A-Day. “You can’t start questioning it, you have to buy in to it, and you have to believe in it. Everyone has to be a team guy, everyone has to check their ego at the door, there can’t be any of that ‘what about me’ stuff going on, and everything has to start with I need to be the best player I can be for the team.”
What would you ask Saban at SEC Media Days? Let us know in the comments section.