helped closed the circus-like, four-day, Southeastern Media Days on Thursday with a flurry of opinions, denials and shots across the bow.
He praised his new offensive coordinator, you know, the guy
athletic director Pat Haden fired in an airport last fall after the Trojans' ugly loss at
"The players have responded to him very well," Saban said of the former USC coach, who will be calling plays this year for the Crimson Tide. "New energy, new enthusiasm, new ideas to do some things offensively that would enhance our chances of being successful."
USC fans would tell Bubba Land to get ready for an overdose of bubble screens.
Here's a prediction: There won't be a controversial peep out of Kiffin this year as he works in the icy-glare shadows of Saban's dictatorial, information-controlled genius.
Saban also chided the working press for picking Alabama to win the
this year, noting the media's record for picking SEC champions is 4-18.
"You've also not picked the right team the last five years in a row," Saban quipped.
In saving Saban for Thursday at the home-state venue outside Birmingham, the SEC certainly saved its best for second-to-last.
Coach Mark Stoops, who went 0-8 in his first season in the SEC, officially was last up on the podium, probably so he could flip the light switch on his way out.
There is nothing like Saban in demand when he's coming off a less-than-championship season. He is, after all, the most successful SEC coach since Bear Bryant. Saban won a national title at
in 2003 and three more since arriving at Alabama in 2007.
He enters 2014, though, with his team riding a two-game losing streak after closing losses against
and Oklahoma. Saban also needs to replace starting quarterback
"We're a team that has a lot of question marks," he said.
The belief that Saban will prevail, though, cuts through the doubt. Once a coach always looking for the next big challenge, Saban seems content now to make his final mark in Tuscaloosa.
He denied published reports that he may have been offered $100 million to coach the
"Nobody offered me anything," he said, adding. "This is where we just choose to, you know, end our career someday."
Saban, 62, is a grandfather now. He defers to his wife when he says "Miss Terry is very happy at Alabama."
Saban is interested only in forward progress. He wants to take on all challengers, a reason why he championed the 2016 matchup against USC.
He is one of the few SEC coaches looking for a tougher, not easier, schedule.
The four-time winner of
titles seeks to conquer the new four-team playoff.
"It will be good for college football and it's good for the game," he said.
Saban then left the arena to prepare for what could be another championship season. It's nice that the SEC always holds its media days first so as to not upstage the other leagues that also play college football.
The stage is now clear for