Alabama Football: Best Quotes and Key Takeaways from SEC Media Days
Alabama's turn finally came on Day 4 of 2014 SEC media days, and with only Kentucky—a team that hasn't won a league game since 2011—in the room during their session, the Tide had the lion's share of the spotlight to themselves.
Nick Saban and his three carefully selected players held court in their home state after what has been an interesting offseason. Most of the players on this team are used to ending the season with a national championship trophy—not a humbling loss in the Sugar Bowl.
With another No. 1 recruiting class and a controversial new offensive coordinator (to put it lightly) joining the program in 2014, there was no shortage of things to talk about in Hoover Thursday afternoon.
Here are some highlights from the session.
First-Hand Accounts of Jacob Coker
Quarterback Jacob Coker, who transferred into the program after backing up Jameis Winston at Florida State last season, appears to be the keystone player of Alabama's season. But we—the general public—do not know much about him past conjectural accounts.
That remains the case after SEC media days, but now at least those accounts are coming from current coaches and teammates instead of former coaches and teammates. It seems much more germane.
In the video above, Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee relays some good information from Hoover. The Crimson Tide brought two wide receivers to the event, Amari Cooper and Christion Jones, and both reiterated how different Coker is from AJ McCarron. Not better. Not worse. Just different. Which means they will have to adjust.
Saban also didn't rule out using a two-quarterback system, rotating the big, strong-armed Coker with the shorter, more mobile senior Blake Sims. Their skills appear to complement one another in a way that is amenable to a timeshare, but Alabama is in "Championship or Bust" mode every season, and how often do two-QB teams win it all?
Not very often.
Kenyan Drake and Jarran Reed Are Still on the Team
In his opening statements, Saban spoke at length about his theory on player discipline. He began by speaking in broad, general terms, but he eventually drilled down to talking about Kenyan Drake and Jarran Reed—both of whom are in some legal trouble.
According to Bruce Feldman of FoxSports.com, Saban confirmed that neither player has been kicked off the team. He did not specify what type of punishment they should expect, but he made it clear that dismissal from the program is something they shouldn't.
"There is not one player that I've kicked off of the team that has gone on to do anything (positive)," Saban said, per Josh Kendall of The State. Especially in an offseason where Georgia (Josh Harvey-Clemons) and Missouri (Dorial Green-Beckham) have made some key dismissals, Saban's comments could be taken as a little bit holier-than-thou, but he believes what he has always believed.
We'll see if Drake and Reed come around to his method.
Lane Kiffin Is Being Himself…In a Good Way
No one does a better job hiding their assistants from the media than Saban. For new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, that has meant a much-needed reprieve from the glare of the public spotlight.
With that being said, Saban spoke well of his new offensive leader, per Graham Watson of Dr. Saturday:
The players have responded to him very well. New energy, new enthusiasm, new ideas to do some things offensively that would enhance our chances of being successful. I'm really excited to have the opportunity to work with him.
Don't take the "energy" in Saban's comments out of context. He doesn't mean a peppy, zestful disposition. Per Matt Smith of Southern Pigskin, Jones balked when asked to do an impression of Kiffin, saying he "doesn't have a personality to mock."
That sounds like the Kiffykins we've all come to know.
Coker (or Whoever) Will Not Lack Quality Targets
This one was obvious once Saban released the media days roster. Jones is a special teams threat as much as a receiving threat—see the Virginia Tech game last season—but that Alabama used two of its three spots in Hoover on receivers speaks volumes.
"Truly talented," said Landon Collins of the Tide's pass-catching options, per Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee. "One of the top receiving corps we've had. Gonna make a run at the SEC."
It's not just Cooper and Jones, though. With Chris Black, DeAndrew White, Robert Foster and tight end O.J. Howard, Alabama might have the deepest group of receivers in the country. There's a reason I ranked them the No. 7 overall position group in America.
Coker (or Sims) (or Cooper Bateman) will not lack options.
Saban Talked About the Texas Job Last Season…
…but not with anybody at Texas.
Saban made that abundantly clear during his press conference. He said he "didn't have any conversations with them," per Jon Solomon of CBSSports.com.
But he did have a conversation with his team. Per Steven Godfrey of SB Nation, Cooper said that Saban addressed the rumors at a team meeting last season, attacking the pervasive rumblings head-on.
Given his sordid history—the way he left the Miami Dolphins—Saban was smart to speak openly with his team. Rumors such as this will always surround him because he is good at his job. Even though those rumors might be grounded in nothing, they will always hold at least a little bit of credence in the realm of public opinion.
The only thing Saban can do is be as open as possible with his players.
It seems like that's exactly what he did.
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