University of Alabama

Saban looks for ways to motivate players

HOOVER, Ala. — At times Thursday, Nick Saban sounded more like Dr. Phil than a Southeastern Conference football coach during his interview session at the league's Kickoff 2008 event.

Saban, the second-year Alabama coach, peppered his remarks with phrases like “self-actualization'' and “self-esteem issues.''

What in the name of Jack Handy do these Deep Thoughts have to do with Alabama football?

Quite a bit, actually.

Saban said players and coaches have been meeting on campus with representatives of the Pacific Institute, a think-tank which advertises itself as being able to “help organizations become aware of what they can become'' and then facilitate the conversion of potential into performance. Saban said the institute is teaching 12 summer classes, covering such mental conditioning and character development.

“I putzed around when I was in graduate school by having a concentration in sports psychology,'' Saban said. “It was very interesting to me. I've seen it over the years have a tremendous impact on performance with a lot of players.''

Don't take that to mean that Saban's reading list consists solely of the collected works of Sigmund Freud and Norman Vincent Peel. He prefers motivational books written by Rick Pitino and Pat Riley.

“I'm from West Virginia, man,'' Saban said. “We don't even know who Freud is up there.''

No rebuttal necessary

Saban didn't take issue with the off-the-cuff remark his LSU counterpart, Les Miles, made to a group of fans in New Orleans over the weekend.

Miles told the LSU fans in attendance not to make much of the Tigers' victory over the Crimson Tide last season since Alabama failed to beat any teams from the state. Alabama also lost to Louisiana-Monroe.

Miles downplayed his remarks on Wednesday, but Saban didn't express any hard feelings about his initial statement.

“Well, he told the truth,'' Saban said. “He told it like it was. We need to earn (respect).''

Saban proceeded to use a scene from the movie “Saving Private Ryan'' as an example.

“Private Ryan told Tom Hanks on the bridge after 12 guys got killed getting him out of there,'' Saban said. “Tom Hanks says, 'Earn this.'

“We need to earn the respect. We need to earn it. That's what we'll work to do. That's what we're trying to do.''