For the first time in the 2023 season, Alabama football head coach Nick Saban is set to appear on his weekly radio show “Hey Coach” on Thursday evening. Saban’s appearance will be hosted by Crimson Tide play-by-play announcer Eli Gold, who returns to the show this season after missing 2022 due to medical issues.
Saban’s Alabama squad will open its season on Saturday, facing off with Middle Tennessee State at Bryant-Denny Stadium. That game is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. and will be aired on the SEC Network.
Follow along here for the latest updates from Saban’s appearance on the radio show.
— Tom Hart of ESPN is the media guest on tonight’s episode. Saban has the crowd clap for Gold’s return.
— Hart asks Saban whether he’s given thought to starting one QB for home games and one for road games. “Not really,” Saban says. Saban then goes into the talking point he has repeated throughout the preseason, noting that the starter being named does not end the competition.
— Saban says he still gets some butterflies before any game, says that’s good for a competitor. Says preparation makes the anxiety better. Says he wants his players to do what they need to do to win and be motivated for themselves, not by external factors. Repeats story about Michael Jordan saying all practices are important.
— First caller, Peewee, asks how the depth is for the Crimson Tide. Saban notes that it’s the first question Peewee has asked that isn’t about the offensive line. Saban says the transfer portal has led to some top backups leaving, which has impacted depth. Says teams just have to deal with it. Says good news is that bad teams can get better faster, but it’s harder to maintain depth for really good teams. Saban says offensive line has made lots of improvement and depth is developing. Says defense has less depth at secondary and linebacker.
— Hart asks Saban about switching over both coordinators and how much freedom he gives them when they come in. Saban says offense gets a bit more latitude. Says that side of the ball requires diverse system that takes advantage of players that the Crimson Tide have. Says Tommy Rees has done well to implement some of his ideas into the existing system. Says defense is more stable system-wise, in part because he is in the room 80% of the time. Says Kevin Steele will do well to adapt and apply the system there.
— Saban discusses college football’s new clock rules. Says it won’t have much of a difference for people viewing the games at home. Says the new rules could create more circumstances where players don’t get out of the game and teams have to call timeouts to get them out. Discusses how many plays are happening and how he thinks there are too many for player safety.
— Fan asks Saban if he could meet one person, dead or alive, who it would be. Saban says it’s hard to pick just one. Mentions people who were hugely successful, like Elvis Presley or Michael Jackson in the music industry or a top U.S. president and he would ask what made them so special.
— Hart asks Saban what he would propose as far as rule changes for college football. Saban says the two biggest rule changes he has seen both dealt with downfield blocking. Says those made the game more exciting. He says pace of play going so fast could put players in harm’s way. Hart asks about MTSU’s tempo and Saban says the Blue Raiders go fast. Saban says the ability to substitute would help player safety.
— Caller asks Saban how he feels about kicker Will Reichard coming back. Saban says it’s great and praises Reichard. Says players who are marginal NFL prospects who have one thing to work on can stick around because of NIL deals and better their professional futures. Says NIL has made quality of life better in college for players.
— Hart asks Saban how much he can watch his former assistants during the season. “I don’t, unless they need something, they usually call.” Says it’s important to stay focused to help Alabama’s players. Says he wants to help anybody that he can, but doesn’t stay in touch just to see how they are doing.
— Saban is asked to compare 2023′s Alabama team to previous championship squads. Says he doesn’t like to compare teams. Says championship teams need to be totally invested in work-ethic, perseverance, et cetera, and leadership will not put up with players who aren’t totally bought in. Says he doesn’t know if the 2023 team is talented enough, but it has shown signs of having the right intangibles.
— Caller asks Saban about Justice Haynes’ health status. Saban says he’s doing good, says he missed 3-4 days and a scrimmage, but he’s been practicing. Points at Haynes as a freshman who can make an impact.
— Hart said he asked Saban and New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone how they create value for their players. Asks Saban how he does it at this level. Repeats story Pete Rose told team about Sparky Anderson knowing when to praise, punish and leave players alone. Says it’s important to not be impacted by external factors.
— Saban is asked about new players at linebackers. “They’re all new,” Saban says. Saban goes through to praise most of linebacker group.
— Saban says MTSU does a lot of pressure on defense. Says that can make major impact if team’s aren’t prepared for it. Says pressures give opponents things to take advantage of if they plan correctly. Says it will be good first game, notes MTSU beat Miami last year.
— Saban says first game is what players prepare for all year. Says he always asks players whether their teammates can trust them to do their jobs. Says Crimson Tide are excited for season to get underway.