CHUCK DUNLAP: Good
afternoon, everyone. Welcome to
SEC Championship game week. We'll
begin today with Georgia head Coach Mark Richt. Georgia is the designated home team Saturday.
Richt, good afternoon.
RICHT: Good afternoon.
DUNLAP: Congratulations on winning
the East as well.
If you could talk about your season
and Georgia as it heads into Atlanta for the SEC Championship game.
RICHT: Of course, we had a big
rival game last weekend against Georgia Tech. I think the guys did a really super job of preparing for the
spread option, triple option. I
thought our defense really did a good job. Offensively we seemed ready to go.
a matter of fact, all of our phases of the game I thought really played a good
game. I was happy to see that
everybody could keep their minds on their business last week, and now we're
just starting to break down all the film.
Coaches are busy trying to put together a plan for the guys.
don't meet today. We'll meet with
the players tomorrow.
CHUCK DUNLAP: We'll start with questions for Coach
Q. After the loss to South Carolina, how
did your team regroup and were able to win the rest of its games?
RICHT: Well, first of all, South
Carolina did a great job that day.
We were at their place.
They started hot. We just
couldn't stop the momentum. You
got to give them a lot of credit, no doubt.
of the things that happened was we had an open date the next week. They played and got beat the week of
our open date. By the time we
played the next week, we played a night game, they played an earlier‑in‑the‑day
game and they lost again. By the
time we played again, we were already back with the ability to control our
helped a lot. We knew it was just
one game. We also knew that
everybody was responsible for that.
It wasn't like the offense had a bad day or the defense had a bad day or
the special teams had a bad day and everybody else pulled their weight. It was one of those days where we all
didn't do a good job, including the coaches.
lost together, so we had to regroup together. We didn't panic.
We just went back to work.
I think both quarterbacks are very similar, accurate passers, good
leaders. Talk about how this game
will come down to the support on both sides of the ball.
RICHT: I think they're No. 1
and No. 2 in the country in pass efficiency. They've both had great seasons to this point. Tremendous leaders for their programs.
quarterback ever has success without the help of his teammates. So it will certainly come down to a lot
of things. But the quarterback
play, as we all know, is very crucial.
can get in the middle of a game and make some great plays, but guys can get in
the middle of a game, try to do too much, put their teams in a bad situation.
going to be a matter of making good decisions, managing the situations as they
go. I think everybody is going to
have to be a little bit patient in this game. I think two really fine defenses playing. So it's not going to be like everybody
is going to have the ball offensively.
Everybody is going to have to work hard to earn everything they get.
would you assess Johnathan Jenkins' ability to affect an offense from the nose
RICHT: When you're running a 3‑4
it is key to have a big man inside that will force you to use more than one
blocker on him in the run game. If
he stays there in the passing game, his job is to push that pocket back into
the face of the quarterback so when he tries to step up in the pocket there's
nowhere to go. You hope he'll do
that if he's actually still in there in some of these passing yardage
situations or certain formations.
done a very good job. Kwame Geathers has done as well. Two big
nose guards that can eat up a lot of space, force some double‑teams. We got some looks when we had both of
them in the game at the same time, lost Abry Jones for the season.
have to have some big boys inside to make it work.
key matchup will be against Barrett Jones. What is your evaluation of him?
RICHT: He's a fantastic player,
obviously. You know, very
versatile. All of a sudden he's
playing center when he was playing some tackle in the past. To have a guy like that, a senior
leader, up front, right where you need him, right down the middle, is huge.
doubt, he's got the ability to block a big man like that because he's a big man
himself. A lot of centers aren't
quite as big as he is. I think
it's going to be an advantage for him to have a better chance to man up against
a big nose guard like that.
Q. You are outscoring opponents in the
third quarter this year. What
explains that, and how big is that going into Atlanta?
RICHT: I guess we've made some
adjustments and played well coming out in the second half. I think a lot of it is the fact when we
win the coin toss, we defer to the second half. We've gotten the ball for one more possession in the third
quarter because we are the ones getting the ball first. We won a lot of coin tosses. We were getting the ball a lot in the
far as what it means for this game, I don't know if it means a whole lot
really. I think every single drive
is going to be crucial. Every
series is going to be very, very important.
think it's a game where, again, I know we feel we're going to have to be
patient offensively and understand that we are playing a defense that's the best
in the country, best in the league.
We got to be able to be patient, bang away the best we can, look for
opportunities to make plays.
touched on the quarterbacks ranking 1 and 2 in efficiency. Both teams have nice tailback tandems,
overcome adversity at receiver.
You're getting going in your study for Alabama, but from what you've
seen from them this year, do you see mirror images between these programs right
RICHT: I think as far as how we
approach it, there are some similarities.
You mentioned a good many of them.
We are running pro‑style attacks, running 3‑4 defense. Quarterbacks, as you mentioned, that
have been highly efficient, that have been around a little bit, played in some
big games over their careers.
Runningback tandems. All
those things you mentioned, there are a lot of similarities.
thing they've done is they've been national champions and we've not. They've been SEC champions and we've
not during the timeframe of these kids' careers. That's the biggest difference I see right now.
Q. The 2008 game, when you think about the
pre‑season No. 1, you were like third going into that game, the way
the '08 season didn't go as well, then you had two years you didn't like, now
you've bounced back, did that game have a lasting effect on the program looking
RICHT: Not that I know. You take one game within itself. The bottom line was we didn't play well
that day. We played a much better
second half. I think we scored I
don't know in the second half, scored a good many, but not enough to overcome
what had happened in the first half.
we just got whipped obviously. I
mean, I don't think how it might have affected anything other than that day.
Q. Mark, did you ever find out what the
deal was with Aaron after the game?
RICHT: He told somebody he just
wanted to hook up with his family.
I don't know if his family was going to try to drive home after the game
because it was not a late game or what.
I think he wanted to get out and spend some time with his family before
they took off.
Q. Specifically looking at this game, a
lot of people are going to focus on Gurley and Marshall. What are a couple of things you look at
that makes it more capable of winning this thing?
RICHT: Well, I don't know. I think we've been playing pretty solid
football on both sides of the ball.
I think our special teams have been solid. Certainly not spectacular, but they've been solid. I think that's what you got to do. You got to play a good, solid
game. You got to be able to run
the ball good enough to make your play‑action pass worth it, you got to
be able to reduce some yardage on first or second downs. Defensively you got to be able to get
after people and you got to be able to get in the red zone area and force some
field goals instead of touchdowns.
We are doing a lot of the things you need to do. We'll have to wait and see what happens
we've been doing some of the things I think you need to do to play well.
Q. You have one 'Bama boy on your
staff. It appears he's done quite
a good job for you guys. Can you
touch on Will.
RICHT: Will has done a great
job. He's really taken a bunch of
guys, when you looked at them in the spring, really we had a lot of work to do,
had a long way to go. They've come
a long way.
I'm not going to sit here and say, and I've never said they've become a
dominating bunch of guys. I think
they're a bunch of guys that know what they're doing. They know who to hit.
They get after it, play hard.
linemen know who to hit and play with effort, it usually buys you enough time
to throw a ball and get enough space to get a back started.
done a good job. Will has been a
big, big part of it. I'm glad he's
on our staff.
of similarities, have you had any time to reflect on the parallels of this
season and 1980, Notre Dame waiting in the national championship game, this run
of last‑season wins? Do you
have any thoughts on that?
RICHT: Not really. That's really the first time anybody
has brought that up to me. I can't
worry about all that stuff. We're
just working like mad trying to get a game plan ready to go this week. That's all I can say.
Q. What do you see out of Alabama's
offense that is different that you haven't seen from other teams that you're
RICHT: Well, you know what, it's
still pretty early. We spend time
knocking out the last ballgame that we just played. We have a staff meeting. We have a little family night coming up, going on right this
minute, at 6:15. I talk to the
special teams coaches about what happened in our game yesterday.
had enough time to study everything.
A lot of people might be thinking I was watching a bunch of Alabama film
last week, but I was getting prepared for Georgia Tech.
Q. I know Alabama has always recruited the
state of Georgia, but have there been more of those in the last few years?
RICHT: I think there is. There certainly has been lately. More so maybe in the last few years.
lot of us in Auburn, a lot of us in Tennessee at one time. But now it just seems like it's us,
Auburn, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Missouri, now Texas A&M, everybody is
coming from all over the place.
There's no secret now that the state of Georgia really produces an awful
lot of SEC talent.
believe even as early as a year ago there were more Georgia players on SEC
rosters than there were anywhere else.
Kentucky, Vanderbilt, you look at those rosters, they're full of Georgia
players. I think that's part of
the reason why we have these rival games.
South Carolina, bunch of them.
going to play all these teams that surround us. Then you realize that maybe 25% of their starting roster is
Georgia boys. They get excited
about playing the Dogs and put it to us.
We have a bunch of that going on.
has been playing at a different level the last several weeks. Do you do what you've been doing
offensively or is this different with Alabama?
RICHT: I think you try to do what
you do. We're not going to
reinvent the wheel by any means this week. There's got to be a patience level. Understand that it's important at the
end of every drive to have a kick.
If it's a punt, it's okay.
just got to make sure we're not trying to do more than any play is set up to
do. If something is there, we got
to be able to hit it in the passing game.
If it's not, we got to be able to throw it away. We got to be able to manage the game
well, be wise and patient.
Q. Has he tried to do too much sometimes
in these big moments?
RICHT: Well, I think all QBs want
to make a big play in a big game.
All players want to make a big play in a big game. There's a time and place for everything. You have to understand when a play
presents itself, then you make the big play. If it doesn't present itself, burn the ball, get rid of it.
Q. Mike Thornton's availability and injury
RICHT: You know how we do it, I'm
meeting at 6:15, we have an injury report at that time, so I don't know.
got it sprained pretty good, I know that.
Whether or not he'll make it to the game or not, I'm not certain. My guess is if we were playing a game
tomorrow he wouldn't be able to do it, but we'll see how he recovers.
Q. Ankle or knee?
RICHT: I think it was an ankle.
Q. Other than Thornton, are you pretty
RICHT: Well, I think we are. From the last game, we know we lost a
couple receivers, Jones. That's
kind of been out there for a little while. But just from this game yesterday, I think that's the only
thing that I heard that could possibly become a problem.
we'll talk with Ron here in a little bit and get a better idea.
Q. You didn't play Alabama last year. They had that awesome defense. They lost a lot of that personnel, now
they're back with one of the best defenses again. How do they do it?
What impresses you the most about that defense?
RICHT: Well, they've done a good
job of recruiting obviously. They
run a system that they believe in it.
It's very sound what they do.
They do a good job of preparing those guys for the moment when they take
over. That's what you're seeing
Q. It seems they've been vulnerable to
that no‑huddle approach. Is
that something you can take advantage of?
RICHT: Well, I don't know if
they're vulnerable to that or not.
When the ball gets snapped, you got to execute. I really haven't watched all the film
of all the teams they played.
Sometimes you have to watch TV copy to get a feel for the tempo that
you're talking about. When you
look at coach's copy, you don't see what kind of tempo an offense is playing,
whether they're huddling every down, going from the line of scrimmage fast or
slow. There's different tempos and
paces. I like to watch a couple TV
copies to give me a feel for those types of things. I'll be watching a little bit of both.
Q. There's a lot of relationships between
the coaches on both staffs here.
Does that add to the chess game element of schemes or subtract from it?
RICHT: I'm sure it adds to
it. We're all very competitive
guys. I mean, we all want to win. We all have competitive juices that
flow. Everybody's going to want to
do the very best they can.
when you know the guys across the way a little bit better than normal, it can
add to it. Bottom line is, we're
both working like mad to get our teams prepared to go to battle. The best team will win.
Q. As far as the competition you have
played this year, you haven't had to play LSU, haven't played at Alabama, and
Texas A&M. They played two
ranked teams, South Carolina and Florida.
Do you feel your team is untested?
RICHT: We've already played the
No. 2 team in the country once this year and had a good day against
Florida. We can only play who's on
be prepared. We'll be well
prepared. But they will, too. That's why you kick it off and play. We'll just have to see how it goes.
Q. As far as the adversity you've had to
face, lack thereof, how do you feel your team will respond in this moment with
the national championship trip perhaps on the line?
RICHT: Again, all we can do is
prepare our boys to get after it and play the best they can. We'll see where it goes.
Q. Obviously at this point you've won
multiple SEC titles, division titles.
When you're in a position like this, when this opportunity is on the
other side of this game, what does this mean to you and what do you think this
means to your career with the possibilities going on?
RICHT: First of all, all you can
do is, again, get your staff and your team as prepared as possible to go play a
game. That's what we're going to
do. If you think about what the game
means, this, that and the other, it doesn't really help you win the game. The only thing that helps you win the
game is preparation and getting your mind ready to go to battle. That's what I got to do, physically,
mentally be ready to handle your business when the ball gets kicked off. That's my only focus. I don't really worry about all that
Q. I know coaches are just in the moment
week‑to‑week in terms of game plan. If you could take a little bit of a step back, how does it
feel to look up and see Georgia back up there in the BCS rankings again at this
time of the year?
RICHT: It's what you always hope
for. It's what you want. We know pre‑season rankings are
for the fans. Where you're ranked
at the end of the year is the most important. The season is not over. There's a lot of ball to be played still.
going back to the last question about my career, it's not about me, it's about
Georgia, it's about this program, this team, these young men, this coaching
staff. I don't worry too much
about all the personal stuff.
it is great to be in this position at this point. You fight like mad every year to get your team in a position
like this. It certainly is a good
know you've spoken before about how fragile winning is. A coach got let go today who won a
national title a couple years ago.
Given the way you finished off last year, what you've done this year,
have you gotten any sense of you've figured it out, any sense of permanence?
RICHT: The day I took the job, my
goal was to be here till I retire from coaching. Like I said from the very beginning, I wanted to make
Georgia my home. I wanted to make
it a place where I could coach for the rest of my career. It's a great place. Athens, Georgia is as good as it comes
for family. University of Georgia
has all the potential in the world to have great success.
just don't have a desire to do anything other than be here, be the coach here
at Georgia. That's been that way
for the last 12 seasons. That
Q. Mark, a little bit of an unfair
question. Alabama has lost three
receivers for the season, you've lost a couple good ones, too. Have you seen much from what they have?
RICHT: The one you notice is
Cooper, obviously. He's the
leading receiver. He's definitely
the go‑to guy, the deep‑ball guy, made some wonderful plays. Some of the long‑yardage
receptions have been just launching it out there deep and him making a
play. He's also caught a couple
balls, shorter‑range balls, made people miss, has taken it to the house
or had some big plays.
have a couple other guys that have been outstanding for them, as well. So, like you say, you have Norwood and
Jones and Williams. All those guys
are contributing at receiver. They
do a great job. Let's face it,
they're the highest team in the SEC as far as pass efficiency. They're just ahead of us in that
think we've been throwing and catching it pretty good, too. They've just been very impressive. To run the ball the way they do, be
that efficient throwing the ball, they have to have a bunch of good receivers,
and you can see it.
Q. Paul Johnson said earlier said this is the best team he's seen at Georgia. Would you agree with that?
RICHT: We're playing good right
now. We have a very good talent
base right now. I think all of our
coaches are working together well.
We've had some continuity.
We didn't lose a coach in the off‑season. There wasn't a lot of learning that had
to be done by a new coach coming in to learn the Georgia way, for players to
have to figure out a new assistant coach or coordinator.
think that's helped a good bit.
playing good. But there's a lot to
be played left. I think we got to
just wait a little bit before we decide how good this team is. We got ourselves in this position,
we've been good enough to do that, so that's a positive thing.
anything different about the way you go about preparing for this year's game
compared to last year?
RICHT: Because it's a normal week
of school and we have the 20‑hour rule in play, we really can't do
anything different. We have it all
planned out to the minute. We
think every minute we use is very crucial, whether it's strength and
conditioning, meetings, practice time, whatever it may be. So if I change in one area, I'd be
robbing one spot to give time to another.
going to keep the same exact routine we normally do. I plan on being in shorts and helmets tomorrow, full pads
Tuesday, shells on Wednesday, backs to shorts and helmets on Thursday. I believe we're going to be in the
Dome, I don't believe we'll practice on Friday, but we have to make an
appearance on Friday. Other than
that, it will be a normal week.
Q. How much concern is it going to be
after back‑to‑back weeks preparing for the triple option to prepare
for what Alabama does?
RICHT: The one thing about playing
that offense, it is a face‑the‑issue kind of offense. You must take on a blocker every single
play. You can't jump around the
block. You can't figure out a way
to get an unblocked player to the play.
Every single defender had a blocker to deal with and shed a block, go
make a play. You had to be
extremely disciplined in what you were doing.
was a different scheme. But the
habit of having to face the issue every play, having to deal with the blocker
down after down after down, shed that blocker to try to go make a play, go
pursue, things like that, I think in some ways it sharpens you a little bit.
the scheme is certainly different.
We have to go back to playing a more conventional look. That will be a little bit of a
challenge. I think it will
probably come back to them pretty quick.
CHUCK DUNLAP: Coach, thank you for your time
today. We'll see you on Friday in
RICHT: Thank you.
DUNLAP: Congratulations on being
back in Atlanta.
Can you talk about your season as a
whole and your team as you head into the championship game versus Georgia.
SABAN: The SEC Championship game
is a great competitive venue. The
winner has gone on to play in a national championship game. It's a great atmosphere. The Georgia Dome, just a great competitive
venue in my experiences in the past.
We're sort of honored and proud in our team in terms of what they were
able to accomplish and win the West, play in the SEC Championship game against
what is an excellent Georgia team, no doubt.
just going to try to do the best we can to prepare our players to play the best
they possibly can against a very good team.
DUNLAP: We'll start with questions
for Coach Saban.
Q. Big picture question for you. Much has been made of the double‑edged
sword of these conference championship games. The loser of this game would most likely not go to a BCS
game, where Florida would. What do
you think of how that plays out?
SABAN: For either one of these
teams it's not really a great scenario.
You play your way into the championship game, which means you're the
best team in your division, they're the best team in
their division. They played their
way into the game by a total body of work for the whole season.
doesn't seem quite right. But it is
what it is. I don't really know
what me commenting about it is going to do to change it. But I don't feel good about it for our
football team or their football team, either one.
it is what it is.
you feel good about the job Will has done, considering he came up under you?
SABAN: Will did a fantastic
job. They played great. Very physical. Play with a lot of toughness. Their defense played exceptionally
well. I think the job that he did
from last year to this year is probably as good as anybody in the country.
Q. Coach, would you assess the ability of
Georgia nose guard Johnathan Jenkins?
SABAN: He's hard to block. Any time you play an odd defense, a 3‑4
defense, can't block the nose guard, makes it hard to run a lot of plays. He's reminds me a lot of Cody when we
had him here. He's a hard guy to
entire defensive team plays extremely well, they play well together. They have a good scheme, lots of
experience. It obviously starts
with him playing and clogging up the middle. That always is a good starting point.
Q. (Question regarding Barrett Jones.)
SABAN: I didn't get the question.
Q. Coach Richt said Barrett Jones was an
unusually large center. He has
been able to handle the nose guards one‑on‑one.
SABAN: Barrett has done a
fantastic job for us this year.
He's an extremely smart player.
This is his first year playing center, but he's done a really good job
efficiency as a blocker, whoever he's had to block, has been really good for us
this year. I think center is a
critical position. He's certainly
done a fantastic job for us.
Q. Coach, you were talking about Georgia's
defensive system. Todd is running
the show over there now. He gives
you a lot of credit. Can you
comment about your relationship with Todd? When you flip on the film, do you see similarities?
SABAN: Todd is an outstanding
coach, coached on our staff way back at Michigan State. That seems like a long time ago. But had a lot of good experience in the
always been really close to Todd professionally and personally. I think he's done a phenomenal job
are some similarities in the system and scheme they use relative to what we
use. But I just think he has done
a really good job. Has his own ideas and methods about how he does it. I think their players play extremely
well. I think that always has
something to do with the coach, the system, how it's taught. They do a really good job.
you're going to rank assistants, he's one of the two or three best I've ever
had on our staff. Did a phenomenal
job for us. I certainly have a lot
of respect for what he's done at Georgia.
two freshmen runningbacks, Gurley in particular, have
gotten a lot of accolades. You
have a pretty good one, too. What
is your perception of Georgia's runningback
SABAN: I think they run the ball
extremely well. Their freshmen runningbacks, both of them, Todd obviously played the most,
but both those guys are really good players. They have a good offensive line. That creates a tremendous amount of balance with them with a
good quarterback who is able to complete a high percentage of his passes, a lot
of rhythm‑type throws that certainly complement their running game.
think that is an outstanding team because of the balance that is created by
their ability to run the ball effectively with good runners, as well as having
a good quarterback and good skill guys to make plays outside in the passing
Q. A day after Kenny Bell goes down for
the year, a lot of injuries with the receivers, what does this do to the other
SABAN: Kenny has done a fantastic
job for us. He has great vertical
speed, makes a lot of catches, certainly complements
the other guys that we have. Chris
Black is a guy that has been cleared medically to maybe come back and
play. He has been practicing for
two or three weeks. We may have to
revisit whether we decide to redshirt him or go ahead and let him play.
this is actually the third receiver that we've had go down, all guys in the two‑deep. That's always a difficult
circumstance. But we have other
good players that have played consistently for us this year. We're going to try to put them in the
best position to utilize the skills they have and hopefully make some plays for
us. A.J. has done a great job of
getting the ball to the right guy and hopefully will continue to be able to do
Q. How much does it affect your
preparation this week, the fact you haven't played Georgia since 2008, if makes
it a little bit more hard work for you going forward?
SABAN: I think anytime you play
somebody on a yearly basis, you develop a history for what they like to
do. We did play them back at LSU
several times. We have played them
here a few times.
have a very, very good team. They
haven't changed systemically in terms of what they do too dramatically. I think what they do do they do extremely well. They really win the game on execution, being able to make
positive plays, getting in the right play. The quarterback does a really good job for them. They're really well coached. I think Mark is one of the best coaches
in our league. Their entire staff
does a fantastic job of helping their players make a lot of plays, put them in
a lot of good plays. The fact they
go no‑huddle most of the time, they do a lot of check‑with‑me's, that keeps them out of bad plays as well.
Q. Between the studying and looking at
Georgia on film, do you see a lot of mirror images? Two quarterbacks are 1 and 2 in efficiency, two nice
tailback tandems, receivers on both sides have battled injuries, do you see two
very similar kind of programs going into this game?
SABAN: Well, I think you pointed
out all the similarities. There's
none left for me to point out (laughter).
Q. Do you see any noticeable differences
then going into this game?
SABAN: I think philosophically there's a lot of similarities in how they try to win with
balance, taking care of the ball, playing with a lot of physical toughness on
both sides of the ball.
try to put their players in the right position. There's not a whole lot of tricks
and gimmicks with us or them in terms of trying to win with execution. I think players like that. Probably play with more confidence,
really understand what their role is, what they're supposed to do. I think if you look at it from that
standpoint, there's a lot of similarities.
just philosophically what we believe in.
I think they must believe in the same things.
the Texas A&M game, you expressed some frustration with not coming out
stronger in the third quarter.
Have you noticed a change in that?
SABAN: Well, we scored on our
first drive in the third quarter this last game, then
took our starters out. I was
really pleased with the way we came out in this particular game and started the
second half. I think that's
something we need to continue to emphasize. We do a good job of giving them a lot of information at
halftime, but we have to be able to go out and execute when the other team
makes some adjustments, as well.
Q. Your own quarterback has been efficient
all year. What have you noticed
about the kind of year Aaron Murray has had for the Bulldogs?
SABAN: He's played very well. He's very accurate. He knows exactly what he wants to do
with the ball. He's smart. When you play quarterback, you have to
process information quickly, get the ball out of your hand to the right
guy. I think he's done that very
consistently all year long.
thinks when I say a guy is a good game manager, that's a negative, but I think
it's a real positive. You have the
ball in your hand every time when you're a quarterback. Whether you're handing it off or
throwing to somebody, I think that's extremely important. I think he's done a phenomenal job of
that for their team in terms of what they want to do, how they want to execute. That's why they've been extremely
successful on offense.
Q. Kirby Smart has been with you for quite
a while, a lot of Georgia connections.
He's gotten a lot of accolades for being a top assistant coach. What makes him so effective at what he
SABAN: Kirby first of all has a
great personality, a great competitive character about him to affect the
players. The players love him and
respond to him extremely well.
He's a very hard worker, a bright guy. He's really done a phenomenal job for us.
as fine of an assistant as I've ever had.
It's great to work with him because I'm kind of a defensive guy, and
he's kind of grown up within our system, with us. When you got somebody like him that thinks a lot like you
think, it really makes it a lot more efficient and effective in terms of the preparation
and the execution, the implementation of that in the game.
has done a phenomenal job here.
He's been Assistant Coach of the Year again and again. Very well‑deserved. He just does an exceptionally good job
in all areas, recruiting, getting along with other people on the staff. You name it, he does it extremely well.
you guys obviously have a lot of guys from Georgia. There have been a lot of recruiting battles between you and
Georgia. I know everyone recruits
the state of Georgia. When you
came in, what did you do in terms of placing an emphasis on this state?
SABAN: What we try to do in our
recruiting is do a really good job in a five‑hour radius of our
Tuscaloosa area. We obviously want
to do a great job in our own state.
It just happens that a large part of Georgia where there's a lot of
population, a lot of good football players and programs, fall into that sort of
do have some very good players from Georgia. They have a lot of good players from Georgia, too. I think it speaks well of the great
high school football they have in Georgia, the good programs they have, how
players are developed, how important football is in that state.
an important part of our recruiting, that entire five‑hour radius, for
you've gone deeper into your coaching career, have you enjoyed your successes
or other achievements more, or is it always on to the next season?
SABAN: This is a process, you
know, what we do. There's no
continuum in success. It's an
ongoing process. You have to look
at the next play, the next game, the next season, the next recruiting class. If you're going to continue to be
successful, you're going to continue to have success, that process is ongoing.
I came to Alabama, they put it on all the books and everything, The process begins.
Well, it's still beginning every day, every game. Regardless of what you've accomplished
in the past, this is the most important game we're going to play this entire year
for our team. As a coach, you want
to do the best job you can to have your team have the best chance to be
successful relative to the hard work they've done.
always looking forward to the next challenge. When I can't do that, I probably shouldn't do this anymore.
you and Mark Richt have been in this league together for a good while. What do you make of what he's done and
what do you admire about what he's done?
SABAN: I've always held their
program in very high esteem in terms of the consistency they've had. They've won on a very consistent basis
the entire time Mark has been there.
He's developed a lot of good players, a lot of good quarterbacks. He has a very good offensive system and
scheme. I know he's an offensive
coach that has probably contributed to that through the years in a very
have a tremendous amount of respect for Mark. He's a great person.
He cares about college football, college football players. I think his record pretty much speaks
for itself in terms of consistency and performance, which is really what
Q. If each season and each team is its own
separate entity, you were public about saying it wasn't this year's group that
won a national title, it was last year's title. Do you think this group understands what that meant?
SABAN: I think they understood
right from the start. There's
quite a few guys on this team that were on the 2010 team that probably didn't
live up to expectations after having success in 2009. I think at least to have some leadership and some experience
in the group that saw the difference between the 2010 and 2011 team in terms of
just the whole approach, the whole sort of competitive character, attitude,
being hungry, whatever you want to call it, I think they realized that the
legacy of this team would be defined by what they did and what last year's team
did wouldn't have anything to do with that.
been pretty pleased with the way this team has tried to respond to it. They've put themselves in a position to
have a chance to play in the SEC Championship game, which is a very positive
Q. Can you also express maybe the respect
student‑athletes, these guys have had bullseye
on them for some time, the respect you want to give
players being the bullseye for everybody?
SABAN: We usually don't talk much
about that to our players. We try
to get our players to be all they can be, play the best that they can play,
prepare to play at a high level and a standard that we try to define for them,
to help them be all they can be, be the best they can be.
feel like everybody we play, you got to sort of go out there and compete one
play at a time, try to change the way that guy thinks, because everybody thinks
starting out the game they're going to have an opportunity to beat you. I don't care who you are, that's just
part of being a great competitor.
That competitive spirit is something that I think is very important for
the players to understand.
really makes their focus a little bit more about what's happening now, this
play, this time, being physical, having the right intensity, playing with the
right discipline so that they have the best chance to execute.
what we try to do with our players.
We don't really talk a lot about the other team. Technically we do, what they do, but
not the rest of it.
CHUCK DUNLAP: Thank you for your time. We'll see you on Friday.
SABAN: Thank you.