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FRIDAY, JULY 27, 2007
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Alabama coach Nick Saban arrives for SEC football media days under the glare of reporters, photographers and fans.
AP photo by Dusty Compton
Alabama coach Nick Saban arrives for SEC football media days under the glare of reporters, photographers and fans.

In the spotlight again
All eyes remain on Alabama
coach at SEC media days

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaily.com · 340-2460

HOOVER — The 2007 Alabama media guide, distributed for the first time at SEC football media days at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, shows all you need to know about the upcoming football season.

On the cover is the one solitary figure — new Alabama coach Nick Saban, walking ominously with a darkened backdrop of Bryant-Denny Stadium behind him. The back of the book shows Saban holding up four fingers, each designating one of his core philosophies: character, academic, athletic and career development.

It is the only media guide in this year's crop by SEC schools to display just a coach. No players. No team logo.

So what does senior cornerback Simeon Castille think of this? Taking away his spotlight? Stealing his thunder?

"I don't really look too much into that," Castille said with a shrug. "It's just a media guide. If he is going to be on it and nobody else, then so be it."

Forget that Alabama went 6-7 last season. Or that this year's Tide is young and inexperienced on defense with five starters back. Or that it is trying to learn a new system on offense and a different defensive set.

After two years out of the league, Saban made his much-anticipated return to SEC media days, addressing regional and national reporters en mass for the first time since the CrimsonTide hired him Jan. 4.

Saban was greeted like a rock star as he entered the Wynfrey. Fans clad in crimson, waiting to catch a glimpse of their coach, camped out in the lobby early in the morning. And they waited for hours more as Saban addressed Internet, television, newspaper and radio reporters.

After more than 92,000 came to Alabama's spring game, a large group of people waited to see him walk around in a jacket and tie at a hotel.

So what does he do for an encore?

"That's the kind of positive energy that I think is going to be important for us to sustain as a program," Saban said, "and will be beneficial to us to becoming successful in the future."

While the event gave Saban a chance once again to see the support behind him, it was mostly a chance for him to touch on a myriad of topics that broad-based reporters had not heard him discuss.

Saban talked about his decision to leave the Dolphins and how it came down to his love of college football.

“It had nothing to do with the Miami Dolphins or the NFL,” he said.

Saban discussed his principles as a coach, about discipline and respect, and how he will try to instill those at Alabama.

“I think those ingredients are probably really important to the future success and us building on that in the near future,” he added.

Saban also tried some damage control when discussing LSU, which he left in 2004 for the Dolphins. He said that his time there was “special” and that “nothing that will ever happen in the future will ever change that from (his) perspective.”

He said little different or groundbreaking than what he has covered in the past seven months. It was just a re-introduction for Saban. A new team with a different color and different fans all looking to one man for answers.

It marked a significant difference from a year ago when then-Tide head coach Mike Shula managed to go through media days as just another participant.

“It is a little more intense than recent years,” Alabama center Antoine Caldwell said. “It’s not as bad as it is here (at media days), but there have been a lot more cameras in Tuscaloosa than last year.

SEC football media days

The head coaches and two players from each of the 12 SoutheasternConference teams will attend the league’s annual publicity sessions this week in Hoover. A rundown of which schools speak with reporters when:

Who went Wednesday

  • Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky and South Carolina.

    Who went Thursday

    n Alabama, Vanderbilt, Florida and Mississippi State.

    Friday’s schedule

  • 8:30-10:30 a.m.: Georgia and Ole Miss

  • 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: LSU and Tennessee

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