TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — After a Friday team screening of “The Blind Side,” initial reviews are in for Nick Saban’s big screen debut.
In a rare shift from the norm, it was the players who were free to criticize their coach.
“He did all right,” cornerback Javier Arenas said. “Not necessarily an Oscar nomination.”
Several players said the theater erupted in a mixture in cheers and laughter when Saban first appeared on the screen of the movie set for nationwide release next week. The movie tells the story of former Ole Miss lineman Michael Oher and current Baltimore Raven who was recruited by Saban when he coached LSU.
The team got a sneak peek at a theater in Columbus, Miss., on the night before its 31-3 win over Mississippi State in nearby Starkville.
Quarterback Greg McElroy said he stayed away from the critiques at least to Saban’s face.
“I didn’t say anything, but he was red as my shirt as we boarded the bus to go back to the hotel,” he said pointing to his crimson shirt. “I think he was taking a pretty good amount of heat.”
He went on to say Saban would be a solid candidate for a “Razzie Award” presented annually to the worst movies and performances of the year. Of course, McElroy was joking when mentioning the award show that honored Paris Hilton last year.
Offensive lineman Mike Johnson said he had a hard time hearing Saban’s few lines because everyone was “hootin’ and hollarin.”
“It was enjoyable and we gave him a little bit of crap for it,” he said. “He seemed to take it all in good stride and seemed to enjoy the movie himself.”
Viewers of the SEC Network will be divided Saturday. With two conference games scheduled to run on the syndicated network this week, there will be a few fans left in the dark.
Alabama’s 12:21 a.m. visit from Chattanooga will be shown by part of the affiliates while Arkansas/Mississippi State will go to the rest.
Viewers in Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia will see the Tide. Those in the Huntsville/Decatur/Florence market can see both with Alabama playing on WZDX-54 and the Razorbacks and Bulldogs on WAMY-8.
On the injury front, only one new issue was mentioned Monday. Saban said starting outside linebacker Eryk Anders had been dealing with a sprained ankle “for quite awhile,” and would be limited in practice for a few days.
“He felt a little sore after the game so we need to give him a day or two to heal up,” Saban said.
At practice, Anders wore a black jersey reserved for injured players and quarterbacks who are not to be hit.
When asked about tight end Colin Peek, Saban said he “was fine” after Saturday’s game that was his third straight without making a catch. He’s been dealing with a knee sprain since the Oct. 24 win over Tennessee.
“(Peek) will continue to play more and more as he continues to get more healthy,” Saban said. “He played in the game and did not show any signs of having a problem.”