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June 10, 2010

Saban likes idea of Texas, Oklahoma in SEC

BIRMINGHAM _ Like everyone else in college football, University of Alabama coach Nick Saban has heard the rumors and seen the reports, and still can't quite believe what's going on either.

Colorado left the Big 12, Nebraska appears poised to join the Big Ten and now Texas might be headed to the Pac-10.

"Is that really going to happen?" Saban said. "It is a little crazy."

"There are some traditions in college football, the Southeastern Conference, the Big Ten, ACC, and I know what used to be the Southwest Conference but the Big 12 sort of took that. This sort of breakup that may occur is something that violates that a little bit."

While seemingly everything else in the sport was dramatically changing Thursday, Saban spent the day at the annual Nick's Kids Golf Tournament at Old Overton Golf Course in Vestavia Hills. While the charity dates back to his days at Michigan State, and honors his father Nick Sr., it's raised more than $1 million since he arrived on the Capstone in 2007.

But not even he knows what may be coming next, including potential SEC expansion.

"I think it would be great for the SEC, maybe I shouldn't say this, if we had some schools like Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, those kind of schools that sort of increased our regional locale or whatever," Saban continued. "But we have a great conference right now with a lot of good schools, a lot of great passion and tradition.

"I don't know where all this is headed and what it's going to do, but I have a lot of confidence in Mike Slive that he would do a good job of keeping our conference competitive and sort of one step ahead in terms of what's on the cutting edge in college football relative to being competitive as a conference."

Saban took questions from a handful of reporters before hitting the course and disclosed that sophomore cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, who is expected to start next season, had shoulder surgery to clear up a previous condition.

"It will not be an issue," Saban said. "He's in rehab right now, but probably in another couple of weeks he'll be able to start running again and all that and, I think, and be in good shape for the fall. We don't see any problem for August starting practice."

The coach added that junior center William Vlachos is "way ahead of schedule" after having foot surgery, and spoke on a number of other subjects as well, including:

Thursday's Nick's Kids event: "Terry and I have been really excited about having the opportunity to do something to give back to the people who are in need, especially in our state. We're getting up in that $400,000-a-year range now as we continue to (get) great support for this event here today. A lot of the things we do, we contribute to, whether it's helping to educate young people who can't afford to go to college or giving opportunities in need, young people, is something my family, my father, my mother, have been dedicated to. We just feel fortunate to be in the position we're in to do something of significant impact to help people in our state."

Schedule relief: "We're hoping for the best and expecting the worst," adding that he's resigned to not getting any help this season. "I know everybody tried to do the best they could, but those kind of things are not simply resolved. So we appreciate everybody's effort and cooperation. I'm not sure there's a lot that can be done."

Wednesday's positive Academic Progress Report: "I think it's really an indication of the kind of program we're trying to have. We're working hard on personal development to try to get guys to do things right. The most significant thing guys are going to do when they come to our school is to get an education, and graduate from school and develop a career off the field. We do a better and better job of that institutionally and I think the APR report is an indication of that."

Everyone in the signing class except Deion Belue and Blake Sims having reported: "We have all guys but two in, and we had several guys that we had some question about, but we can only bring 25, and we'll decide later in the summer which of those guys will be able to come in."

Southern California's penalties being imposed years later: "I think that is a little bit of an issue and the coaching staff that wasn't around then as well, but I think the NCAA does a good job relative to what they have to do and what their task is, to keep the competitive balance in college football and not allow people to do things that they shouldn't do to create advantage for themselves. One of the theories that I have on the whole agent thing, and I don't know all what's involved … you (should) go after the culprits. The culprits in this case are the agents themselves and the players involved, and the school will get punished and those two groups won't get punished at all. There's only so much we can do to control them."

The Tide's postseason run in baseball: "I'm happy for them we want to be good at everything at the University of Alabama, I'm really proud of what the baseball team has done and the way they played in the SEC Tournament, as well as how they've done in regional play. I don't know much about the other team, but pitcher's so important in baseball. I just hope ours is good."

Friend Tom Izzo, the Michigan State basketball coach, visiting with the Cleveland Cavaliers: "I haven't talked to him, but I'm sure what he does is going to have something to do with what the best player there does, and that's LaBron James. I know Tom well enough to know that without talking with him. We want what's best for him and his family, he's done a great job a Michigan State, I'm sure that he'll find that the NBA is a little bit different than college, but everyone has to find out for themselves if that's something they really enjoy."


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