They’re not quite sure how to feel right now in Tuscaloosa, Ala., where the University of Alabama is coming off a 7-6 season and paying football Coach Nick Saban this season’s portion of his estimated $35-million contract.
But his popularity is bound to swing one way or another early, because the Crimson Tide opens against Clemson at the Georgia Dome. The Tigers, 9-4 last year, are loaded and considered the team to beat in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The Alabama-Clemson series started in 1900, when the legendary John Heisman was the Clemson coach. Heisman was an advocate of the forward pass, pushed for football to be divided into quarters, and created the center snap.
As for Saban, at this stage, it’s still about the money. The Alabama movers and shakers thought enough of him to pry him away from the Miami Dolphins of the NFL, where Saban left $13.5 million on the table.
Saban won a national championship at Louisiana State and knows all about expectations.
He just didn’t like talking about them at SEC media day.
“You guys use that word ‘expectations’ a lot,” he told reporters, “and I try to minimize it a lot because I think it’s dangerous.”
What to maximize: Tackling, blocking, running, passing, catching.