Paul Finebaum called Alabama Crimson Tide football coach Nick Saban over his recent comments claiming 2021 was a “reconstruction year,” calling his statement an “apology.” Saban made the comments during an appearance on a radio show on Aug. 3, and the SEC Network personality hit back on ESPN’s “Get Up” a day later.
Saban said during an interview with McElroy and Cubelic in the Morning on WJOX: “Last year we had kind of a rebuilding year. So we should have nine starters on offense and nine on defense, but six players go out early for the draft, so now we have five on offense and seven on defense.
Saban added, “This creates a few more question marks in and of itself, but it also creates an opportunity for other players to shine in the program and make a positive contribution. No one knows exactly how all of these things will play out, but that’s part of the excitement and challenge we have in building a team.”
In “Get Up,” host Mike Greenberg pointed out that last year’s Crimson Tide team won the SEC 13-2 and made it to the National Championship game with a Heisman-winning quarterback, prompting Finebaum to point out to respond to Saban’s comments.
“That’s very predictable if you follow Nick Saban closely. Anytime he loses a game, like a national championship game, here comes the apology,” Finebaum said on the ESPN show. “Here comes Nick Saban’s complaint tour. I mean, sometimes I don’t know if Nick Saban is trying to keep being the greatest coach of all time or if he wants Jimmy Kimmel’s job. I don’t really get it.”
Finebaum added, “Honestly, at some point it doesn’t look great anymore. I know that’s not something people like to say where I live because Nick Saban can’t go wrong. But first it was NIL that he complained about over and over again. And now he’s ranting about what happened last year.
Finebaum said, “You can go down memory lane, every time he loses one of those games, he called the Sugar Bowl a consolation game a few years ago. He blamed the NFL Draft for the loss to Ohio State when Ezekiel Elliott was there. There’s always something going on with Nick Saban, but we still love him, right?”
During his interview with Cole Cubelic and former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy, Saban said, “I think people might not realize that figuring out how all the changes to a roster is going to affect a team’s success is a lot harder.” You have teams in our league that have 10 to 15 new players, no recruits, people who came in from other conferences and other parts of the country that you don’t really know about.”
Saban added, “How this will affect our team and other teams is probably really a question mark that I’m sure a lot of coaches are asking. And I’m excited about the guys that we have new to our program, new to our team, and I’m excited about the young players that we need to develop and which of those guys will actually be able to contribute . ”
Alabama goes into the 2022 season as favorites to win the national championship, but Ohio State and Georgia are hot on their heels according to preseason betting odds. Finebaum was asked by Greenberg if this year’s Alabama team will be the best Saban has ever had.
“It could be, but there are concerns about the offensive line in this building,” Finebaumm replied. “That’s pretty important, and it’s even more important when you have Bryce Young because towards the end of the season he was rushed everywhere. Auburn almost beat him, a team trying to fire their own coach. So that’s the problem. Saban’s best teams don’t always win. I thought the best team I ever saw was five years ago and Clemson beat them. So you don’t really know. But he’s got the best quarterback, he’s got the best defensive end, that’s a good start when you’ve got the best coach ever.”
Alabama’s defense coming this season is getting high praise from talent evaluators. An NFL executive told Heavy on Aug. 4, “All five Alabama defensemen could go to Round 1,” adding that “Will Anderson could be the best player in college football this season.”