Teleconference Quotes, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2012Allstate BCS National Championship
An Interview With:
COACH NICK SABAN
THE MODERATOR: Good evening. Thank you very much for taking the time to come on the call. This is the Allstate BCS National Championship teleconference.
We’re going to start off with Coach Nick Saban from the University of Alabama. I’ll ask Coach to make a brief opening statement.
COACH SABAN: Well, we are very, very excited as a team, as an organization, as a university, to be able to come to the Sugar Bowl. It’s a great opportunity to play a great LSU team that’s undefeated, that we had a great college football game with ‑‑ maybe the greatest college football game of the season ‑‑ earlier in the year.
And we have a tremendous amount of respect for them. I’m very, very pleased and happy for our team to get the opportunity to play in the BCS National Championship game again. And I really do think these are two great football teams and it will be a great football game.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. Some of the people that may have gotten hung up on the rematch aspect also got hung up on the score of the first game, 9‑6, obviously no touchdowns. Can you kind of speak to, first of all, why it played out that night? And why, in your experience, two teams who have played again several weeks or a couple months later, why the game might play out differently?
COACH SABAN: Well, you know, I think if you just look at NFL games, you play all the teams in your division twice. Nobody seems to think too much about those rematches.
You always play teams in the playoff that you played in the regular season. And sometimes the teams that play in the Super Bowl have played each other before and all those games play out differently.
Two great defensive teams, no doubt. But there was a lot of offensive production in the game. And people just weren’t able to take advantage of the opportunities because of the good defense that was played. Great plays made on both sides on defense. This could be a totally different type of game.
And, you know, there’s so many good players on both sides of the ball for both teams that I just think there’s a lot of opportunity for the game to be completely different and have a completely different flavor than what the first game did.
Q. Nick, in this era of all these spread offenses and quarterback‑centric offenses, what do you make of two teams that run the ball and play physical and have defenses, run‑stopping defenses being in this game and being the two teams left?
COACH SABAN: I think it speaks a lot for whether we call it old‑fashioned football or whatever; that if you’re big, if you’re physical, you win on the line of scrimmage, even though both teams are capable of making explosive plays throwing the ball and you control the line of scrimmage on the defensive side of it, that you’ve got a really good opportunity to win.
And I think these two teams that are in this game this year kind of proved that in terms of the style and nature of play. And I think when you can do those things, you can play ‑‑ you have a better chance to play more consistently by having good defense and being able to have balance on offense, and offensive system that allows you to do that.
So maybe that’s why these teams could play with a little bit more consistency.
Q. Can you go over what your practice plan is and how you plan to prepare for this with the long layoff?
COACH SABAN: Our players have been working out. We won’t start practicing probably until December 19th or 20th. And probably practice four or five practices before Christmas.
Give the players a few days off, and come back and practice another four or five practices after Christmas. And then get into a regular work week for the game itself, even though we may not be able to travel to the game until January 4th, which would sort of end the work week. We’ll just go ahead and do it in Tuscaloosa and use our facilities. But that’s our plan so far.
Q. Where did you find out the news that your team had been selected and how did you break that to the team? And also what was your thought last night? Did you have trouble sleeping? Did you anticipate you would still be selected? Kind of take us through your thoughts after watching that Oklahoma State/Oklahoma game last night?
COACH SABAN: First of all, we were at a team banquet tonight, and we did not tell the team. I was not aware for sure of what the circumstance was going to be. Relative to the selection process. And actually got it from ESPN right before we went on the air and our players really learned about it at the banquet when we piped the ESPN show into them.
So they extremely excited to have the opportunity to play in the BCS National Championship game, and a lot of the guys on our team played in the game a couple of years ago and know what a competitive venue it is. And they have a tremendous amount of respect for LSU’s team and having played them earlier in the season.
So we were really excited about that. I did watch the Oklahoma State game last night. I think Oklahoma State has a really, really good football team. Maybe deserving. But rather than rehash the system, the system that we have worked the way it did.
And the two teams that came out on top are in the game. And I’m sure if we were in their position, we would be a little disappointed about that. And I understand that.
But it’s a system that we have. And rather than rehash the system, I think maybe we should do research on what would make the system better in the future.
Q. Do you see college football moving back toward the style that you guys and LSU play, a lot more run game and better emphasis on offensive linemen and drive blocking instead of the slide blocking and the spread and things?
COACH SABAN: Well, you know, I think that there’s a lot of good styles of football. Just because it ends up this way right now, I mean, there were teams that won the National Championship running a wishbone. And there’s teams that won the National Championship in the spread and throwing the ball over the field and never having a quarterback under center and taking the ball on the gun every snap in the game.
So there’s a lot of different styles that work. I think the most important thing probably is you have the right kind of players to play that style.
And I think maybe the current trend is that with skill guys, fast guys, a good quarterback, you know, you may be able to turn a program around a little quicker with those kind of athletes that you might be more readily able to attract than actually getting the big physical guys that you need to be able to play the style of football that both us and LSU have had success with this particular year.
Q. With that first meeting in Tuscaloosa, do you think that LSU will have any kind of crowd advantage with that game being in New Orleans?
COACH SABAN: Well, I’m sure that New Orleans in Louisiana and it’s an hour and 45 minutes from Baton Rouge. And there’s a lot of LSU fans in Louisiana. And I’m sure that our Alabama fans will represent us extremely well.
But it’s obviously going to be a little bit of home field advantage playing in the Sugar Bowl with LSU. I was on the other side of that when we played Oklahoma in the championship game in 2003. And I thought it was a bit of an advantage for us.
Q. What do you think it says about the respect that people have for the SEC to vote you all, LSU and Alabama, 1 and 2, in both the coaches’s poll and media poll this year?
COACH SABAN: I think it speaks volumes for the respect the SEC has. That comes from the quality and body of work that the conference has from top to bottom in terms of good programs, quality coaches, lots of good players.
At one time this year in our division, just the West, you know, we had LSU first, us second, Arkansas third, in the whole national poll. For those people out there who say you didn’t even win your conference, how come nobody was rated higher than the top three teams in our division, which is only six teams.
So I think it speaks volumes for the respect and quality that people have, and I think people get a lot of exposure to the SEC because the TV package we have and the games that are on TV and I think they see the quality of ball, the quality of athletes and how they enjoy watching that kind of football.
And I think it says a lot for our league. And is a real compliment to all the institutions in our league. To the SEC, to our commissioner, Mike Slive, who has done a fantastic job of continuing to develop and make our league what it is.
But all the institutions who contribute to the competitive balance that we have in our league in football.
Q. Just wanted to ask you, not playing in the league championship game and then the little bit of time between New Year’s and January 9th, how much will that help you from a health standpoint? Are you in a ‑‑ are you guys in a pretty good spot in terms of injuries?
COACH SABAN: We’re in a pretty good spot I think in terms of injuries. I think a few weeks off helps a team after a 12‑game season.
But I guess the management of 40 some days between games is probably a little bigger issue to be concerned about how you prepare your team, sort of like a one‑game season and how you prepare your team to come back and play after that long of a layoff and get them to play quality football.
So tackling is an issue when you have time off and how you practice that so you can effectively go in and play your best football I, think is, really critical. So it’s really the preparation for the game that I think is most critical.
Q. Nick, if Alabama wins this game, do you think you’ll be viewed as ‑‑ will be and should be viewed as the clear national champion, or do you think there would still be some controversy or doubt because these two teams would have split two games this year?
COACH SABAN: I think if they ever ‑‑ if the Super Bowl champ ever lost to someone else, lost to that team during the regular season and wins the Super Bowl, beats them in the Super Bowl, beats them in the playoff, that’s what it is. It’s the National Championship game.
LSU beat us and they won the SEC championship. And now this is a completely different venue where people still think ‑‑ and I think the voters and the system sort of proved that out ‑‑ that these are the best two teams and they’re going to play again for the National Championship.
And I think whoever wins the game should be viewed as the national champion.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Coach.
An Interview With:
COACH LES MILES
THE MODERATOR: At this time we’re going to move on to the head coach at Louisiana State University, Coach Les Miles. Coach, a brief opening statement.
COACH MILES: Just a very quality football team that achieved a very strong milestone for our school to be undefeated in the regular season and win the championship game.
Kind of set the direction nationally to allow us to be in this game. I think our guys are excited. It’s something that they were ambitious about, something they played to. And we’re looking forward to facing a very quality Alabama team, a very talented team.
I also want to congratulate Mike Gundy and Oklahoma State, what a magnificent job they’ve done and other schools that are in the perimeter of this contest, that had great seasons and will play in very, very great venues and BCS games.
And again we look forward to playing in New Orleans and the National Championship game.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. When you see other BCS giants and you see that in addition to winning the SEC championship, beating the teams you did there, you beat two other BCS conference champions in the nonconference. What does that say about the conference for you guys just achieving to make it through that slate undefeated?
COACH MILES: I think we played six road games, six home games. We played quality opponents. I think what really has prepared this team like other teams that have won the SEC is they went on to the National Championship, is they played such great caliber competition week in, week out.
Every team you see lined up, well coached, well prepared, and great players and you have to be ready to play and you have to be ready to play week in, week out.
And it finishes with a championship game which is the 13th game, and it peaks and really stresses to a team that this is a championship venue. And once you get through that, it’s been certainly in the past a very comfortable setting for the SEC champion.
So we feel fortunate to be where we’re at.
Q. A question like this is similar ‑‑ a similar question was asked to Coach Saban. From your perspective, you’ve already beaten this team. I know you say you’re proud to face them again. But there could be an argument made that if it’s a close game, LSU would be every bit as deserving of a national title, even with a loss in this game, because of the way your season has played out and your entire resumé. I’m wondering what you thought of that or if you have any thoughts about that?
COACH MILES: I have none. That’s all speculation. It’s not something that we’re going to dwell on. I think the ‑‑ I think what happens when you take part in a system, and that system, first of all, you win the West. And winning the West in this league is tremendously important.
And it sets you apart, considering the No. 1, 2, 3 ranked teams nationally were in the West division. Then you win the conference. And being the conference champion, in this conference, is a tremendous honor.
So we had the opportunity to play for those two things and win those two things now. And so that’s on the resumé for this team. The opportunity to go play for the national championship is a completely different scenario. It’s a different place. It’s the same opponent. But it will be played with the title at stake.
So we look forward to that. I do understand opinion and speculation thereafter. But we’re going to enjoy this. This is going to be a great opportunity certainly for both teams and certainly we’re looking forward to it.
Q. Considering the schedule that you guys have played and the fact that you’re the only undefeated team, would you be up for just like calling it a season now and just declaring you guys national champs and being done with it?
COACH MILES: That would disappoint a team that I have here. This team loves to play in the big stage. They want to play on national television. They want to play in domes with the lights on and they want to invite everybody. And they want to play.
And I certainly understand what you’re saying. You know, it’s interesting. Somebody said that if an Oklahoma State and Alabama played their 13th game, then that might clear it up and then go ahead and play the winner of that and call that the National Championship game.
I certainly understand the difficulty with that. That seemed to be a very easy common sense answer with a lot of difficult real‑life problems. I do understand what you’re saying.
We are very much looking forward to participating in New Orleans in the National Championship game.
Q. Do you think you winning in Tuscaloosa, winning the first time around, do you think there would be a significant crowd advantage playing in New Orleans?
COACH MILES: I really haven’t given a lot of thought to that. I felt like when we played Ohio State, that it was wonderful to play there. I don’t know that it was so much the crowd as it was the very positive feeling of the town and the people and the experience of spending a week in New Orleans, which is a town that’s very familiar with our players and very familiar with our people.
But it appeared to me that there was a factor that made our team enjoy playing there maybe more than in other places.
Q. Coach Saban was asked this: The fact we’re in the spread era where a lot of teams go to those offenses but the fact that two just downhill power rushing offenses are going at each other, what does that say about this year that these two styles are the last two teams standing?
COACH MILES: I think each year’s different. I think if you look to the great Florida teams, they were spread and Tebow operated his magic and they played great defense and great special teams. I think it’s based on operating your talent, making sure that you’re running the style of offense that benefits the guys that you’re coaching.
And then playing all three phases. To me, you know, I think different styles of offense come and go. But it’s specific to the people, and you always find that quarterback that fits that system best or you always find that tailback or running back or receiver that fits that system best, and it just seems that that’s the best way to guide the style of offense.
I think you’ll find in all these teams they’ve played quality defense. Special teams as well.
Q. You brought up the quarterback thing. Have we seen the last of Jarrett Lee?
COACH MILES: I gotta be honest with you, I keep thinking we’re going to get him in the game earlier, and maybe this year, this final game might be that opportunity.
One thing about it, he practices extremely well. Felt like we were in position to use him. I would like to have started that game like we started the second half and gotten him in the game really in about the second quarter. But it just didn’t start as fast, and we wanted to stay with what we had specifically for that situation.
Q. What sets Alabama apart as the No. 2 team to you guys? What did you take away from that first game in terms of their worthiness of being No. 2?
COACH MILES: I thought that they were well prepared, well coached. Obviously a dominant defense. And just very physically capable. We have great respect for that Alabama team. I can see that it certainly was a great game against them at their place, and we certainly respect that outing and that team and we learned that they’re very capable.
Q. The fact that you and Nick, both LSU and Alabama, have been the national champions recently, does that experience do anything as you go into a month to prepare your teams now to play for this again, the fact that you guys have both done this successfully before?
COACH MILES: Yeah, I think our program ‑‑ I think our guys understand what we expect of them. We kind of look at the time as a program, as players, exactly what we need to get accomplished in different phases of this preparation.
And I think that the experience we’ve had in the past, especially with such a late game, will really benefit both Coach Saban and that Alabama team as well as myself and LSU.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.