|Saban, Alabama players comment on U-M game|
|Written by Matt Pargoff|
With the Wolverines kicking off their football season against defending national champion Alabama in the 2012 Cowboy Classic in Arlington, Texas, excitement has grown through the off-season among both fan bases. Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban spoke today at the SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala., acknowledging that the game will not only provide exposure, but keep his players focused following a successful season.
“We've had a lot of national exposure that has really enhanced the development of our program, especially in the early years, by playing neutral site games against very good national competition, whether it was Florida State in Jacksonville our first year, Clemson in Atlanta, or Virginia Tech in Atlanta, Penn State home and home the last couple years,” explained Saban. “Now having the opportunity to go play Michigan in Dallas, and we're going to come back to Atlanta and play Virginia Tech and West Virginia in the next two years. These are the kind of games we look for national exposure.
“I think playing a great opponent like Michigan the first game of the season really enhances your players' sort of work ethic and preparation in the off-season because they know they're going to play a top notch team right off the bat, and that's very challenging. That's kind of been the reasoning behind it. It's worked out well for us. But we know that Michigan is going to have an outstanding team and it will be a very challenging game for us this year.”
Alabama senior offensive center Barrett Jones added his take on playing the Wolverines to start the season.
“I love it,” said Jones. “I love opening up against a marquee opponent. It gives you that little bit of extra motivation in the offseason because you know what you're working towards. When you open up with someone else, you can think you might have a few weeks to work everything in and get it right, but playing a team like Michigan, it gets you through those days of camp with it's 110 degrees outside when you can remind each other about Michigan and the opener and playing in the Jerry Dome.”
Senior defensive end Damion Square, who was recruited heavily by the Wolverines in 2008, shared his teammate’s sentiment about opening the season with a big game.
“I'm born and raised in Texas so this is a great way to start my senior year,” Square noted. “To go play in Jerry's House and play a great team like Michigan. There's no better way to start season so I'm looking forward to it.”
The Alabama head coach also spoke on another Big Ten related matter, giving his opinion on how the NCAA should approach matters at Penn State.
“I think what I suggested was, even though this is a very criminal thing, that we should focus on the outcome,” said Saban. “I do this a lot with players that have issues and problems. Rather than focus on the punishment, focus on the outcome that might be a win-win and helpful to everyone. As a suggestion of what might be something that would focus on the outcome, would be to tax the university on all their ticket sales in athletics, and donate the money to some organization that is dedicated to protecting children.”