TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama returned to practice on Tuesday ahead of the team’s January 2 matchup with Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.
It was the first team press conference since the Auburn game, when Alabama lost in stunning fashion 34-28 to the Tigers.
Alabama coach Nick Saban and select players talked about the Saban-to-Texas rumors, some injury updates, Lane Kiffin being in Tuscaloosa and Saban’s new grandparent status after practice Tuesday.
Saban moving on from Texas talk
Saban wouldn’t offer up any more comment on him signing an extension to stay at Alabama.
“I think I’ve already made a reaction to that,” he said. “Don’t you watch ESPN? Don’t you see what they put down across the bottom line? That’s my reaction to it. I don’t have any more reactions to it. I think it’s kind of over, so why do we want to talk about that? Can we look forward? I’m looking forward. I made a commitment to the players that are here, and I’m happy to be committed to them. And I want them to make the same kind of commitment to the program and their future success.”
Senior wide receiver Kevin Norwood said he heard the talk but didn’t think much of it.
“I went home for the break or whatever, and everybody was basically talking about it,” Norwood said. “And I was like, ‘Coach Saban is not going anywhere.’ And whatever social media was saying, whatever was happening after that, I pretty much ignored it.”
When asked how far the discussions went with Texas, Saban said, “There were no talks.”
Anthony Steen to miss Sugar Bowl
Saban confirmed reports that senior right guard Anthony Steen had shoulder surgery and will miss the final game of his college career.
“He’s played probably the second half of the season with some shoulder problems,” he said. “They got progressively worse. We decided to have doc MRI it. He thought that it would not be good that Anthony continue to play so we went ahead and got it fixed.”
Saban said a number of players from true freshman Grant Hill to senior Kellen Williams are candidates to replace the injured Steen.
Saban recently became a grandfather when his son Nicholas and his wife Kelsey had a baby girl.
“It’s really wonderful and you’ve really got to count your blessings to have a healthy baby and a healthy mother and someone that beautiful come into your family is really something that you have to count your blessings on,” he said. “So many things may not always go right in those circumstances. We certainly feel like we’re blessed to have a healthy baby and someone in our family. They actually had a rocking chair over there so I was kind of happy rocking that baby a little bit. Since then, I haven’t been able to go back and Kelsey can’t come until Wednesday. I kind of miss the little bugger if you want to know the truth about it.”
Kiffin in town to “exchange ideas”
Lane Kiffin has been in Tuscaloosa, meeting with Saban and his staff. Saban said he was surprised at the reaction to Kiffin being in town, given that this type of situation is a common occurrence.
“Lane is a really good offensive coach, and I’ve always had a tremendous amount of respect for him,” Saban said. “Just to come in and brainstorm a little bit just some professional ideas with our guys, I think, is a real positive thing. And I don’t know why there’s any reaction to it. I’m really quite surprised.”
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