SEC Media Days Alabama notebook: Coaching turnover, Clemson loss, transfer portal


Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban speaks with ESPN during SEC Media Days at the Hyatt Regency-Birmingham.

Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban speaks with ESPN during SEC Media Days at the Hyatt Regency-Birmingham. Photo by: Vasha Hunt/USA TODAY Sports


Ben Portnoy



HOOVER, Ala. -- The circus had arrived. 


With the Hyatt Regency -- Wynfrey Hotel lobby flooded with crimson and white, Alabama coach Nick Saban, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, wide receiver Jerry Jeudy and linebacker Dylan Moses comprised the Crimson Tide contingent at Wednesday's session of SEC Media Days in Hoover. 


Speaking with his usually monotone, bordering on disinterested voice, Saban addressed gathered reporters as he previewed Alabama's 2019 season. 


Here are three takeaways from the day: 




Turnover in Tuscaloosa 


It's no secret Saban has faced significant coaching changes during his time at Alabama. In the SEC alone, four of his former assistants patrol the sidelines as head coaches. 


This year will be no different as Steve Sarkisian, Pete Golding and Jeff Banks step into offensive, defensive and special teams coordinator spots respectively. 


Changeover aside, Saban remains confident in his ability to manage the overhaul and continue to put forth a national title contending team. 


"We don't change systems at Alabama," he said. "So, we change the system to effectively take advantage of the players that we have in our program. So that's what we want to do. Obviously we'll do some different things and some new things relative to the new coaches that we have, but we also maintain the same system that we've had in the past." 




Ghosts of National Championship games past 


As Alabama walked off the field in Atlanta following last season's 44-16 walloping at the hands of Clemson in the national championship game, there was a semblance of shock. 


The Crimson Tide had rolled through the 2019 season as their finely-tuned offense guided by Tagovailoa ranked No. 3 in the nation in points per game and No. 6 in yards per game. 


Roughly six months on from that disheartening loss, Saban reflected on the game and how his team maintains an edge from falling short of the program's seventh national title. 


"It seems like we had a lot of distractions at the end of the year," he said. "So hopefully we learned from those scenarios, and it will help us do the things that we need to do to be able to play to our full potential throughout this season." 




College football free agency 


Saban didn't mince words when asked about his thoughts on the NCAA transfer portal and the waiver process. 


Painting it as "liberal" and "free agency," he said the modern era of transfers has created a system of inconsistencies and one that adds a whole new set of challenges for college coaching staffs. 


"Everybody's expectation is I can transfer and get a waiver," Saban said. "And I don't think that's a good thing. So, we make commitments to players for four years. They make commitments to us to be in our program. It may not work out for everybody and they may have a better opportunity someplace else, but if they have to sit out for a year, it would be a consequence for them in terms of their commitment."


Ben Portnoy reports on Mississippi State sports for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @bportnoy15.


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