Saban on today's players: 'They don't make 'em like they used to'


Given the current climate surrounding the game of college football, especially as it pertains to head injuries and with a Rutgers player paralyzed from the neck down still fresh in everyone’s mind, recent comments coming from Alabama head coach Nick Saban may not sit well with some.

For old-school souls, however, it will be music to their ears.  Or their hearing aids, as the case may be.

Following the Tide’s win Saturday over Ole Miss, Saban let loose a diatribe on the state of college football, railing against what he perceives to be the lack of toughness of today’s players as compared to the good ol’ days.

“That’s what I tell the players all the time, and they hate to hear it, but now I’m going to say it publicly so they can really get upset about it,” Saban said according to, at which point a member of the school’s media relations was heard to utter “forget it, he’s rolling.”

“You’re telling the other guy you’re beating me up, I’m hurt and I’m going to stay down here. It’s just like a boxer. If you go down, get up. If you’ve got to come out for a play, come out for a play. But that’s just me. I’m old-fashioned. I know they don’t make ’em like they used to. …

“But a guy lays on the ground and eight trainers go out there and everybody thinks he’s hurt and he gets up and runs off the field. When I played, my coach, you wouldn’t want to meet him on the sideline. So if you stayed down, you’d better really be hurt.”

While we certainly agree with a lot of what Saban said — to a certain extent — there’s also something that he’s either failed to take into account or simply forgot as he was trying to get his message across.  Today’s players are simply bigger, stronger and faster than anything the coach or his football forefathers ever had to face.

All of that mass moving at a greater velocity?  It’s the perfect recipe for not only more injuries, but more severe injuries as well.  That’s an opinion shared by at least one member of the Tide football program.

“They don’t really, because those guys are slower than we were,” wide receiver Marquis Maze said. “They don’t make guys like they make them now. That’s how I joke back with him. Back in their day, they played with leather helmets. Didn’t have much protection.”

Certainly some players may take advantage of the heightened sense of awareness surrounding the safety issues in the game by taking an on-field siesta after what may appear to be an innocuous collision, but the fact is there’s an atmosphere that leans toward erring on the side of caution these days.

Was Saban wrong for blasting the toughness of today’s players?  That’s for others to decide, although reigning Heisman winner Mark Ingram, perhaps with his tongue stretching toward one of his cheek,s agreed with his boss.  

“He’s our coach,” Ingram said. “Whatever he says, whatever he does, we’re always behind him. … If that’s what he says, then that’s what’s right.”

Ingram having his coach’s back notwithstanding, there’s little doubt that Saban, right or wrong, will likely catch some flack and a little heat for his most recent ascent to the pulpit.

(Tip O’ the Cap: Mr.

Vols ‘very confident there was no inappropriate conduct’ between Butch Jones, player

KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 11:  Head coach Butch Jones of the Tennessee Volunteers watches the action during a game against the Chattanooga Mocs at Neyland Stadium on October 11, 2014 in Knoxville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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In the midst of reports that he had a physical altercation with one of his Tennessee players during summer camp this year, Butch Jones labeled the speculation “absolutely ridiculous.”

Apparently, his bosses agree with the head coach.

At a board meeting Thursday, UT-Knoxville chancellor Jimmy Cheek stated that he and athletic director Dave Hart had done their “due diligence” in investigating the accusations that Jones and senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder were involved in some type of physical skirmish during practice this past August.  The end result of interviews with Jones, coaches and players was the conclusion that there was nothing to the reports and message-board rumors.

“There’s been a lot of rumor and misinformation on social media and message boards about an alleged incident during football practice,” Cheek said according to‘s Wes Rucker. “It’s not our practice to respond to rumors, but I thought it was important to let you know that we’ve done our due diligence and Dave Hart and I are very confident there was no inappropriate conduct with any players or coaches.”

Shortly after Cheek spoke at the board meeting, Crowder took to Twitter with a series of missives that speaks around the issue.

Michigan’s keeping ‘fingers crossed’ for leading rusher’s availability

De'Veon Smith
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Michigan played without its leading rusher in Week 5.  The Wolverines are hoping there won’t be a repeat in Week 6.

De'Veon Smith sustained a lower-leg injury in the Week 4 win over BYU and didn’t travel with the team for last Saturday’s win over Maryland.  Smith has been practicing with his teammates throughout the first few days of this week, and head coach Jim Harbaugh is guardedly optimistic that the running back will be available for what’s turned into a huge Big Ten matchup with Northwestern Saturday in the Big House.

“He’s practicing and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’s going to stay good and be ready to play,” Harbaugh said during a radio appearance Thursday morning. “But we’ll (keep) looking at that every day.”

Despite essentially missing a game and a half, Smith currently leads the Wolverines with 331 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. He’s added four receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown coming out of the backfield the first four games.

Should Smith be unable to go again, the Wolverines have three other backs with at least 100 yards on the ground: Ty Isaac (187, 7.2 yards per carry), Drake Johnson (125, 4.2 ypc) and Derrick Green (100, 3.3 ypc).

In addition to Smith, Harbaugh is hopeful Channing Stribling will be available this weekend as well.  The starting cornerback didn’t play against the Cougars because of injury