Alabama football Coach Nick Saban got behind the podium at the Southeastern Conference's Spring Meetings in Destin, Fla., and answered questions from the media Tuesday on a number of issues, including the conference’s restriction against allowing graduate transfers to move within the conference.
Saban, facing the transfer of offensive lineman Brandon Kennedy, has already spoken on the issue, but reiterated his position forcefully on Tuesday.
“I don’t think it should be on me. I think we should change the rule. If we agree in the SEC at these meetings that we’re going to have free agency in our league, and everybody can go where they want to go when they graduate, and that’s what’s best for the game? Then I think that’s what we should do. Then Brandon Kennedy can go wherever he wants to go.
"But if we (as a league) don’t do that, why is it on me? Because we have a conference rule that says he can’t do it. And he can do it, but he’s supposed to sit out for a year. So, why is it on me? …
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"Let me ask you a question. If we make a rule that guys can transfer whenever they want to transfer, how are we supposed to get people to do what they should do? I’m not just talking about as football players, I’m talking about as people. I’m talking about making good choices and decisions off the field. I’m talking about doing the right things academically. So if a guy’s missing class and I say ‘You’re not going to play in this game because you’re missing class,” which I’ve done on occasion. And then he just says ‘Well, I’m going to transfer.” Is that good? I don’t know. I’m not saying it’s good or bad. I’m asking. I’m asking you all the question. You don’t ever seem to answer the questions like I do. …
"I think it is something we should address as a league. And to be honest with you, if we allow (free graduate transfers) to happen in our league, I think it will benefit some schools more than others. And I think we’re one of the schools it would benefit.
"But I still am not for it.”
Other comments on Tuesday:
On the late signing of QB Layne Hatcher from Little Rock, Ark.:
“With our quarterback situation and only having three guys on scholarship, we wanted to bring a couple of guys in. … He’s been in a winning program (Pulaski Academy), he’s a very bright guy. He’s a great athlete. I thought he was a really good decision maker. Actually, he’s very accurate with the ball. We were very excited to have someone of his caliber to be able to come in and contribute at that position.”
On the new limit of 20 headsets for staff per game and how that will affect his team:
“I don’t necessarily think it’s a good rule. I think it’s very short-sighted. I think it’s an opportunity for somebody to control how many people we can have on staff. Look, everybody knows my theory on all this — We’re not allowed to hire high school coaches in any kind of developmental position. They’ve got to be full-time on-the-field — so if we don’t have interns and graduate assistants and people who want to be a part of our game, who’s developing coaches? Where are they coming from in the future? …
"It’s not cost-saving, because it doesn’t cost much. I don’t know who’s driving all this stuff, but to me, it’s kind of like mouse manure when you’re up to your ears in elephant doo-doo."
On the players who have reported:
"We have a couple of guys who are still not out of school yet. And we have one guy that still has to get his grades right. And these things could get resolved in the next 24-48 hours or they could take until the July term for a couple of guys. That's all still kind of up in the air until the end of the week."
On the late SEC commissioner Mike Slive:
“The guy was probably as influential and had as much impact on college football and the whole Southeastern Conference in terms of the changes that were made and how he elevated our league and the class and style he did it with. … I learned a tremendous amount from him. … He was a unique leader in a lot of ways.”