Saban not a 'happy camper'

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama safety Robert Lester told reporters after practice that it was "a typical Wednesday."

The response drew a few chuckles from the men and women in attendance. The rant they heard from coach Nick Saban earlier in the afternoon was anything but ordinary.

Saban wasted no time letting his mood be known at his post-practice news conference. He cut straight to the chase.

"How's everybody today?" Saban asked.

"Doing good, coach," answered some. After all, the sun was out and it was a pleasant day.

"You might not be after I get done with you," Saban said smugly.

And like that, it began, Saban launching into a tirade blaming the media for overlooking Alabama's next opponent -- and unranked Western Kentucky team -- and creating a mood of overarching judgements based on one game, even though that game featured Alabama dominating a top 10 team in Michigan by 27 points.

"There's a tremendous balance between humility and confidence," Saban said to start his soliloquy. "This game is a struggle, it's a struggle everyday and you have to embrace it everyday. You have to go out there and try to earn it everyday to be as good a player as you can be. You have to have a tremendous amount of character, confidence, mental and physical toughness. You have to be driven to be the best and you have to be able to handle success.

"And I hate to be negative with anybody, but when you people start writing stuff about people that we're playing that doesn't give them the proper respect, that's not fair. It's not fair to them, to their players who work hard. It's not fair to our players, who need to respect them."

While players maintained that the level of focus hasn't changed after beating Michigan to earn the No. 1 spot in both the AP and USA Today Coaches' polls, Saban painted a different picture of his team. Around the gated practice fields earlier in the day, you could hear Saban shouting.

"It's work every day around here to try to keep our guys on track to have a little bit of humility and confidence," he said. "We win one game and I can't believe what gets written."

The reason for Saban's reaction stems from years past where Alabama has opened strong to start the season only to slip up and not play their best against non-conference teams.

"We did play two teams in these neutral site games before, and played horrible the next week, because a lot of the same kind of stuff happened," said Saban, speaking directly to media's presumption of blowout wins against supposedly inferior opponents. "I'm just giving you my opinion. I respect what y'all do. I understand you're not here to promote our program or anything like that. I'd appreciate it if you'd get everybody involved in the game.

"We play the games for a reason. When we make all these predictions of what's going to happen, it takes away from the game, I think. Just like everybody talks about who's going to win the national championship. Why do we play the games? We've got a lot of great games coming up. Why do we play those?"

Saban went on to say that the improvement usually seen from Week 1 to Week 2 might not happen based on the attitude of the team so far.

"Based on the way we practiced and what our attitude is around here and what gets written about what's going on and how everybody thinks, I would question whether that's happening or not," Saban said. "I'm not a real happy camper right now. It's my responsibility. It's nobody else's responsibility but mine."

Wide receiver DeAndrew White said Saban has pushed the team at practice this week.

"Coach has been on us and pushing us to get better and never overlook anybody and keep on pushing forward," White said.

Relaxing after a big win might be the norm for most college teams, but it won't be tolerated at Alabama.

"For some teams, it might be natural, but for us you take it one game at a time and look forward to the next game they have in store," he said.

The next opponent might be a Western Kentucky team that didn't begin playing Division I football until 2006, but to Saban and the rest of the Crimson Tide, it doesn't matter if it's a middle school lined up on the other side of the field.

As Saban walked off the podium after his nearly six-minute speech, he took a deep breath and explained himself.

"I didn't mean to intimidate y'all today," he said. "I had to take it out on somebody."