Nick Saban took the stage at the SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama, and his address and answering to subsequent questioning answered everything from the prospect of next season (“challenging”) to the Penn State fiasco (“criminal”).

Here are some of his best quotes:

  • On the new team for 2012: “It’s really, really difficult in college football to carry momentum from one season to the next. You lose 25% of your team. That’s an understatement for us. We lost 13 starters from our team last year. And the new 25% that you bring to your team, really they don’t have knowledge and experience, they haven’t played. They’re young players. Maybe very talented players, but they’re very young players.”
  • The new kick-off rule: “I don’t think there’s any question about the fact that a player’s helmet coming off is not a good thing. It’s probably dangerous for the player. I don’t care whether it’s stylish or whatever it is, the players need to wear their helmet properly, it needs to fit properly, and it’s never good when it comes off. I think whatever we can do to sort of manage that toward player safety would be a real positive for our game.”
  • On Penn State: “This is obviously a very criminal thing that occurred there….If there’s some kind of way that we could create a win-win, and I don’t really know what that is, I just threw out a tax on every ticket at every athletic event and donate all the money to organizations that prevent child abuse, would be more of a win-win than worrying about punishing someone…. I just think that more focus on outcome is always more beneficial that might create a situation in the future that would be beneficial to someone.”
  • On the play-off system and worries about conference champions in a play-off: “I think, to be quite honest with you, whoever’s making the statements about conference champions is really making a statement against the SEC and against any league who has more than one good team who would qualify, trying to enhance the opportunity for somebody from their league to get in.”
  • On a nine-game SEC schedule: “What scheduling format gives us an opportunity to do that? So we’ve always played two teams on the other side plus a fixed opponent. You can do that by playing eight. You could do it by playing nine. Everybody’s got a self-absorbed opinion about why we shouldn’t do it because maybe they won’t get bowl eligible….So I don’t know if it would or it wouldn’t affect it one way or the other. I just look at it that the number one priority should be that every player have the opportunity to play every school in the SEC rather than being so divisional oriented. I think that should be the number one priority in scheduling.”
  • On coaches he looks up to: “There are other coaches in this league, like Steve Spurrier, that are older than me, that I look up to, that are my mentors, that I really learn a lot from, that I really want to try to be like. In fact, I was even going to consider wearing a visor on the sidelines this year. I was afraid I’d throw it.”
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