Alabama will attempt to win its 20th consecutive game Saturday night when it meets Texas A&M in Kyle Field.
The 7 p.m. CT kickoff on CBS will also be another meeting between Nick Saban and former assistant Jimbo Fisher, with Saban having a chance to extend his record over former assistants to 25-0.
Saban held his weekly radio show, “Hey Coach Show with Nick Saban,” on Thursday evening. Here were the highlights:
— Asked about qualities for players they recruit, Saban said they want players to be the best versions of themselves. Saban said he tells recruits he does not want them to “commit to Alabama” but instead commit to all of the things they need to do at Alabama to be successful. Saban said they “pay guys back” for playing by “creating value for them and their future.”
— For his final word, Saban said, “I think this is a critical game for us” because it’s an opportunity to show they can play on the road in the SEC and maintain intensity for 60 minutes. He said there will be opportunities for “other players” to play because of injuries.
— Asked if he talks to Jimbo Fisher, Saban says, “I don’t chat with anybody. I really don’t. I don’t talk to people during the course of the week. I mean, Miss Terry if I’m lucky. I don’t see anybody except our staff. We work.” He said his days are planned out and “I don’t have a lot of time to say, I’m going to call my buddy and see what he’s doing.” Saban said he enjoys talking to buddies and wishes he could do it more, but he does not have the time. “Nothing personal,” he said. “And I don’t think most of them that are doing a good job and working hard, they don’t do it either. … They look at their phone and say what’s this guy want? And most people that know you kind of know that you’re focused on what you’re doing so they don’t call you.”
— “There’s a couple people out there that I wish would call me every now and then and they don’t. I don’t talk to hardly anybody. Not just coaches — I just don’t talk to anybody,” Saban said to end his appearance.
— Saban said Bryce Young has “always been very well grounded.” He has great character and is good communicator, although quiet — he doesn’t talk unless spoken to, Saban said, calling Young intellectual. He said you can teach players to do everything but some things on the field require instincts, which Young has. Young also seldom gets frustrated, although Saban noted Young was frustrated about his interception late against Ole Miss. The two had a discussion this week about not forcing things and playing the next play.
— Saban said they give media training to players in order to create value for themselves. He said NIL has created opportunities for players given the image they project. “Football, you got a helmet on. You’re like a gladiator,” Saban said, saying judgments are made about how players perform on the field. Saban said he believes his players in recent years have done an “outstanding job” of creating value for themselves, using DeVonta Smith and Mac Jones as “first class” examples.
— Asked about what “motivational qualities” he looks for in players, Saban mentions setting a good example in doing the right things themselves.
— Asked about his favorite concession for a football game, Saban asked, “When do you think the last time I’ve ever been in a concession stand is?” Saban said he’s never been at a tailgate in his life. “Do you have any idea where I am during the game?” Saban said he heard about 40 percent of the game-day workers at Bryant-Denny Stadium did not show up to work. “I apologize to all of our fans out there,” Saban said. “For whatever reasons [they weren’t there], God bless ‘em, one way or the other.”
— Asked if there is someone he would like to meet that he has not, Saban said you do not typically think about that until someone is no longer alive. Saban said a “stupid example” is that he always wanted to see Elvis Presley when he was young but “that time never came.” Saban added, “You are a speck in time situated between the past and future.” He brought up the death of Fuller Goldsmith this week and said he was at the radio show a few weeks ago. Goldsmith was in Terry Saban’s luxury box for Saturday’s game.
— Asked about what he looks for in hiring coordinators, Saban said he wants someone with good character although “sometimes that can be hard to judge.” He doesn’t believe someone can be in a leadership position if they do not communicate well. He also wants to know how the coordinator will fit with the rest of the people on the staff. Sometimes a candidate can be a good coach and good person but their personality can cause “strife” in the building amid long hours.
— “Each week you have the opportunity to clarify exactly who you are,” Saban says of what’s great about sports.
— Nick Saban, asked by media guest Lauren Sisler from AL.com about how he’s doing: “I think we’re doing OK.” He said Alabama plays well when motivated but seems to have trouble maintaining intensity, whether it’s in games or practices. He told players this week they need to have a “cue” when they lose intensity and “then you got to pick yourself up.” He said snipers are trained by staying awake for 24 hours before they need to perform their tasks, and need to have a “cue” to bring themselves back in focus.
— Saban on Texas A&M: “I think this is a dangerous team. I think this is a little bit of a trap game for us.” He said Alabama played an “emotional” game against Ole Miss and Texas A&M is coming off two losses. Saban added the Aggies’ QB Zach Calzada is trying to get up to speed after an injury to starter Haynes King but the rest of the team is as good as anyone in the country.
— Saban said Texas A&M might be “a little humiliated” and like a “wounded animal” coming off two losses. There is less hype around this game and Saban wants his players to be motivated without external factors.
— Saban said fans did a “wonderful job” affecting Ole Miss, noting the three stops on fourth downs. He specifically said the “students did a great job” when Ole Miss was at that end of the field.
— Saban asks PeeWee, the “surrogate offensive line coach,” if he has been in “full strut this week” based on how the offensive line played against Ole Miss. Saban noted the structure of Ole Miss’ defensive invited them to run the ball.
— Saban believes all of Texas A&M’s defensive linemen will be playing in the NFL, and they are disruptive. “This is going to be a huge challenge for the offensive line.” He added Alabama will need to face a pass rush but has an opportunity to make plays down the field. “We’ll see how we play this week,” Saban said of the offensive line.
— Saban said the defensive scheme was “much better” this season against Ole Miss. He said the defense got caught with 12 men on the field but officials missed a substitution by Ole Miss. Saban said he learned a “valuable lesson” that if officials don’t see the substitution, they will not hold the game and Alabama will need to stop its own substitution to avoid a penalty. “It was probably worth the lesson that we learned,” he said.
Mike Rodak is an Alabama beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @mikerodak.