The highlights from Nick Saban’s SEC teleconference call:
- Dont’a Hightower had successful knee surgery although Saban didn’t say when it was performance and which ligaments were involved.
- A reporter from Gainesville asked about Saban’s strategy for pulling players late in blowout wins. Saban recognized the obvious connection between the question and Tim Tebow’s injury and said it wasn’t a bad move having the starting quarterback on the field in a 31-7 game in the third quarter. A touchdown and on-sides kick recovery has Kentucky right back in it.
- “I don’t think of football as a dangerous game,” Saban said. Injuries happen in football just like they do in any other sport, he added, but the NCAA carefully looks at the rules that keep players safe.
- The ugly “comparison” question was asked about the SEC West and last season’s Big 12 South. Saban hates that C-word. He didn’t make one, but reiterated his view on the SEC West’s depth.
- Alabama plays neutral-site games like the Virginia Tech opener in Atlanta to prepare the team for road games. This Saturday’s game with Kentucky is Alabama’s first “true road game.”
- When talking about the linebacker situation, Saban said Hightower’s versatility makes him especially difficult to replace. Because of that, more than one player will be needed to fill those jobs ranging from inside nickle linebacker to defensive end pass rusher.
Now that we’re done with the weekly news conference and player interviews, I can update some of the day’s news.
- Game time was set for the Oct. 3 game at Kentucky. Like last week’s game, it will be the 11:21 a.m. SEC Network game. Those decisions are made every Monday for games two weeks in advance. This week’s game with Arkansas was picked up by CBS as the 2:30 p.m. game of the week.
- There weren’t any Alabama representatives made the SEC player of the week honors for the first time this season.
- Greg McElroy and Colin Peak were Alabama’s offensive players of the week as selected by the coaching staff. Mark Barron and Terrence Cody shared the defensive honors while Javier Arenas, Robby Green and Chris Jordan was recognized for their special teams work against North Texas.
- Nick Saban said Julio Jones and Roy Upchurch will both practice today and will continue to be evaluated on a day-to-day basis.
- Check out where ESPN.com’s Chris Low slots Alabama in his weekly SEC power rankings by clicking here.
You’re just one day away from the weekend. Celebrate with a few nuggets I thought you might be interested in.
- My admiration for Sports Illustrated has been well-documented in previous posts. That love was re-affirmed today when I found the following link to a new project. They are trying to use open records laws to obtain the ballots of coaches who vote on the USA Today Coaches Poll. Click here for the story.
- Don’t forget Nick Saban is a voting member this year. I just traded e-mails with a university spokesman who said SI had contacted the school. He said the ballot was not a UA record, thus not subject to open records requests.
- I smell a fight brewing.
- What do you think? Should the ballots be made public? Leave your opinion in the recently repaired comment section.
- One former SEC coach is not having a pleasant morning. Ex-Kentucky basketball coach Billy Gillispie was arrested and charged with DUI for the third time. Check out the booking mug. Ouch. Click here for that picture and the story written by two reporters who I worked with at my high school and college papers. Small world.
Kentucky coach Rich Brooks opened with a joke. Again, the photo is from the AP.
- On being last to speak on opening day: “That’s appropriate. That’s where we’re picked every year any ways.”
- His opening statement was about 15 minutes shorter than Dan Mullen’s.
- “I don’t think there is a better corner returning in the country” on Trevard Lindley. Brooks also said he was surprised he returned to Lexington after being evaluated as a potential mid-second round NFL draft pick.
- On Tebow’s snub: “You guys are going to try and narrow it down (laughing). “I’m not the guy, good luck in the search.”
- “No question that the patience level, in society let alone college football, is at a premium. … I feel very fortunate (to still be employed at Kentucky). “Somebody had the intelligence and guts to weather the storm.” Kentucky was on probation when Brooks arrived in 2003.
- Quarterback Mike Hartline will be much improved this fall, Brooks promised.
- One fact Brooks keeps repeating: “We won three straight bowl games.”
- “That’s a tough one. With Alabama what Nick Saban’s assembled down there, that will be a tough one … but at least we have them at home.” Cited home wins over Georgia and No. 1 and eventual national champion LSU in 2007.
- “I Twitter quite a bit lately. I’m an old-school guy, who has kind of taken a liking to it.”
- Vote on the poll.
Here are a few notes from Monday morning’s Southeastern Conference teleconference:
- New Kentucky coach John Calipari has been the subject of several questions. Most everyone agrees that his presence will only raise the bar in the league although not everyone is looking forward to playing the Cats.
- Tennessee’s Bruce Pearl said having Kentucky among the elite has been a long-lasting tradition in the SEC. For a while, that hurt the league because they were the only elite. But the rise of programs like Florida has risen the standard for everyone.
- The consensus also agrees that the conference will be back this winter. Last season’s slip from the elite was not a permanent shift.
- Anthony Grant was on for about half the time Calipari spent asking questions.
- He he no updates on scheduling but hopes to have that done soon. Kansas State released its schedule recently and it included a game with the Crimson Tide in Mobile.
- In regards to working with his team, Grant said he didn’t know every player from a “basketball standpoint.” Interesting.
- Unsurprisingly, Grant said he was excited about the new basketball practice facility.
- Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury congratulated former Decatur Daily sports writer Kyle Veazey on his recent engagement in one of the lighter moments of the 90 minute teleconference. Veazey now covers the Bulldogs for the Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Mississippi.
The vigil continues as the NCAA ruling on Alabama’s textbook scandal continues to remain a mystery. But there was one school who made the headlines yesterday for its run-in with the NCAA police with a tie to a recent SEC big-hire.
John Calipari was not named in the NCAA charges of a “major violation” coming out his the Memphis basketball program he coached at the time (read more here). But it doesn’t do much to rehab the image of the coach who has often been the subject of whispers and questions of his integrity.
As this writer points out, the bad news kept rolling in on Wednesday up in Lexington. Former basketball coach Billy Gillispie filed suit against the school and blue-chip recruit John Wall pleaded guilty on charges of breaking and entry.
Ouch. Ouch and ouch.