ESPN’s Herbstreit: Saban ahead of curve on keeping even keel

Alabama coach Nick Saban has kept his team focused on each game as it comes. (AP photo by Dave Martin)

If Alabama keeps winning and remains No. 1 in the nation, ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit knows exactly why that will happen: Tide head coach Nick Saban.

“The biggest challenge for Alabama is the culture created from success, and Nick Saban is ahead of the curve in combating that,” Herbstreit said Tuesday morning during an ESPN conference call with reporters.

Herbstreit mentioned the season-opening 41-14 win at Michigan that could’ve had negative repercussions for Alabama.

“There was so much excitement surrounding the Michigan game, and Alabama blew their doors off,” Herbstreit said.

And from there, the attention didn’t turn to the next game but instead the Nov. 3 game at LSU. Herbstreit said even a 52-0 win over Arkansas didn’t seem to garner much reaction.

“That’s a dangerous place for a team to be, but to Alabama’s credit, they’ve been machine-like,” Herbstreit said. “I give them a standing ovation for what they’ve done, because in the next two weeks when they go to Missouri, to Tennessee and Mississippi State at home, the media and fans are going to say, ‘Ahh, they’ll win by 30.’

“The players continue to listen to their coach and practice against perfection. The challenge of the game for them is in the mirror.”

Herbstreit used Florida State as an example of a team that needs to learn to not get caught up in the same highs and lows fans do: “The reason Alabama and Nick Saban win so consistently, is they don’t get caught up in, ‘Oh, it’s LSU!’ ”

Herbstreit also addressed the embarrassing moment on the recent ESPN GameDay Show when he appeared scared to death of a live chicken placed on the set when analyst Lee Corso picked South Carolina to win. The chicken is named ”Big Spur,” and Herbstreit was given a healthy warning about its attitude.

“I was told Big Spur was very aggressive,” Herbstreit said. “The person who handled him told me, ‘No, seriously, it’s very aggressive. Don’t get too close to him.’ ”

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