Alabama head coach Nick Saban addressed the media on Monday ahead of the Tide’s trip to Columbia, Missouri. Here is a summary of what he had to say:
Gene Chizik addressed the media following lunch, dressed in a pin-stripe suit with a pocket square. Chizik brought some excitement back to the media sessions, following the less than stellar Joker Phillips.
- Chizik opens by thanking everyone for sending thoughts and prayers to the Auburn community following the shootings that left three dead.
- Kiehl Frazier and Clint Moseley will battle for the starting quarterback position in the fall.
- Chizik would not place a time-table on selecting a starting quarterback, but said he would like it done sooner than later.
- Chizik said this is the first time since he’s been at Auburn that the Tigers have had depth at multiple positions.
- Auburn has 16 returning starters, with five returning senior starters.
- The current Auburn senior class has averaged 10 wins a year, are undefeated in postseason play and have a national championship ring.
- Auburn hired a new offensive (Scot Loeffler) and defensive (Brian VanGorder) coordinator this offseason.
- Loeffler and VanGorder have both coached on the NFL level.
- Chizik said if a game is decided by seven points or less, he thinks Auburn is going to win.
- Chizik called Missouri coach Gary Pinkel one of the best coaches in the country.
- Chizik called Missouri and Texas A&M two “dang good” football teams.
- Chizik said geographical reasons are not a reason to move Auburn and Alabama to the SEC East.
- Chizik would have supported the new playoff system in 2004 when Auburn finished undefeated, but would have been opposed in 2010 when the Tigers won the national championship.
Marq: Chizik was his usually calm, collected self during his session. He brought some energy back into the room. Demeanor was very similar to 2010 when he was coming off the national championship. He didn’t get a lot of questions, but he knocked down the few he was answered. He opened by thanking everyone for showing support after the shooting and it seemed like it came straight from the heart.
Marc: I don’t see Chizik all the time, but he seemed absolutely fired up at today’s media session. But he raised his voice to talk about Texas A&M and Missouri joining the SEC, and the potential scenarios in the new playoff format – hot topics, but nothing to get that riled up about. Still, Chizik was very well-spoken and confident in his Auburn team, which he says finally has some depth. Auburn will be tested early with Clemson in Atlanta and a trip to Starkville awaiting the Tigers in weeks one and two.
Missouri Tigers head coach Gary Pinkel understands the challenge his team faces as they make the transition into the SEC and spoke about that and more during his session at SEC Media Days.
- Pinkel says the Georgia game will be big and understands that it will be a historic game for Missouri.
- A reporter asks Pinkel about what it was like to play with Nick Saban in college and their relationship. He says that Saban is a great football coach and will go down as one of the greatest coaches in college football.
- Pinkel says the Mizzou fans have become “fanatical” about joining the SEC and that “The Zoo” will be an extremely tough place to play this year.
- Pinkel says his spread offense won’t change much going into a new conference and that ”we’re going to do what we do and adjust accordingly.”
- The SEC coaches meeting was a little bit different experience for him than it was for Sumlin. He said he already knew most of the coaches and said, “Hey, how’s it going, let’s get to work.”
- A radio guy asks Pinkel where the best place is to eat in Columbia for people visiting for the first time. He doesn’t seem too amused and says he’d get in trouble if he answers that, but says, “Why don’t you email the city restaurant organization?”
Marc: Gary Pinkel offered a little bit of a change of pace from the outgoing personalities of Sumlin and Spurrier. He spoke in more of a monotone voice and gave a lot more “coach speak” answers per se than the two coaches that preceded him. He’s a much more no nonsense guy and gave a lot of short and blunt answers. The restaurant question was a perfect example: he had a chance for a light-hearted back-and-forth with reporters, but instead just asked, “Why don’t you email the city restaurant organization?”
Marq: Gary Pinkel was all business, rarely cracking a smile. He gave direct answers to every question he was asked and kept a straight face while doing so. He talked a little about his college days with Nick Saban (Saban and Pinkel were college teammates) and made a small joke saying “I want everyone to know he’s older than me.” Pinkel reminds me of Saban from a personality standpoint as a “by-the-book” type of coach. Both men love to go about their business and just do their jobs. If he coaches anything like Saban, his Tigers are in good hands.
As the 2012 college football season draws nearer, Crimson White Sports will take a look at each team in the SEC, give our thoughts on how they will do in the league this year, and give some key matchups vs. Alabama, if they are on the Tide’s 2012 schedule. Up next: Missouri.
2011 record: 8-5 (5-4 Big 12)
Final AP ranking: Unranked
Missouri certainly had an interesting 2011. The Tigers started off the season 1-1, with an unimpressive win over Miami (Ohio) and a tough loss to Arizona State in Tempe. The Tigers followed up with a 69-0 thrashing of Western Kentucky, entering the meat of its season at 2-1.
The Tigers had a tough stretch during the middle of its season, losing four of its next six games, including losses to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas State, all ranked teams. On Nov. 5, the Tigers added another loss to their record, this time to Baylor and eventual Heisman winner RGIII. Two days later, The Tigers were announced as the 14th member of the SEC.
Apparently the Tigers wanted to impress its future conference with a good showing for the rest of the year, and finished the regular season with three-straight wins and a bowl victory against North Carolina in the Independence Bowl. A slow start, a rough patch in the middle, and a smooth finish for the Tigers.
Key returning starters: QB James Franklin, RB Henry Josey, LB Andrew Wilson
2012 outlook: Missouri will enter its first year in a new conference as a mid-tier program, at least for SEC standards. Still, the Tigers are bringing in an impressive resume from the Big 12, landing near the top of the conference in a few key categories: rushing offense (229 yards per game) scoring defense (26 points per game) and total offense (459 yards per game).
The Tigers are going to have difficult games this year in Georgia, South Carolina Alabama and Florida. That first game against the Bulldogs will set the tone for the season, one way or another. And those games against Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama? Yeah, you can count those up as losses. However, Missouri will have manageable ‘tweener games from Southeastern Louisiana, Arizona State, UCF, Vanderbilt and Kentucky to maintain some semblance of a reasonable schedule.
My take on the Tigers: 9-4 with a bowl win. Welcome to the SEC, Missouri.
Key games in 2012:
- September 08 vs. Georgia
- September 15 vs. Arizona State
- November 03 at Florida
Key matchups vs. Alabama (9-13 @ Missouri)
- Missouri receivers vs. Alabama secondary: The Missouri Tigers’ passing offense was pedestrian last year, especially for Big 12 standards. Still, the Tigers are returning their quarterback, as well as two of their top three receivers from last year. Of course, the arrival of the top overall prospect in the nation, Dorial Green-Beckham, should be a boost for Missouri. Alabama’s secondary should be up to speed this far in the season however, so it should be an interesting matchup.
- Missouri rushing attack vs. Alabama front seven: Missouri will bring in a 1000-yard rushing from last year: running back Henry Josey. Should Josey remain bottled up, however, Missouri may rely on quarterback James Franklin, who had 981 yards rushing last season. Still, Alabama under Saban has been historically good against dual-threat quarterbacks.