When Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban spoke about this class this week, he revealed a glimpse of how much he cares for his players.
“When the thing comes on Saturday, it is a little bit emotional for me because I can’t believe how fast it goes by,” Saban said. “When I shake hands with these guys, I remember going into their house. It just seems like it was yesterday. Now they’ve been here, had success and they are gone.”
Members of this class have won national championships in 2011 and 2012, and some contributed to the 2009 title as well. They’ve won 35 games since the 2010 season. But Saban wants the rings and wins to be the last thing players remember.
“More than anything else, the No. 1 goal that we have for our players is that the things that they learn here, whether it’s character, discipline, good choices and decisions, consequences of good choices and decisions are all things that are going to help them be more successful in life,” Saban said. “And I'm talking about being more successful as parents, more successful in whatever their career is. That’s the ultimate goal that we have for all of our players here.”
The process is credited with turning stellar high school prospects into dominate college football players, but the part that is often left out maybe more important. It also helps turn boys into men.
Saban said he appreciates the sacrifice each player makes and the amount of dedication it takes to become good players.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for all the players in our program, the things they do on a daily basis, personally, academically and athletically,” Saban said. “We tell guys in recruiting to be successful in college is not really going to be all fun and really be easy. There’s some difficulty to it all, whether it’s having academic success. It’s a lot of hard work to be a good football player.
"These guys have dedicated themselves to being good people. They’ve certainly done a really good job and had a great academic record in terms of the graduation rate of this group and how well they’ve done academically, as well as what they’ve been able to produce on the field.”
Saban wants the fans to show their appreciation for another graduating class that has dedicated their college careers to providing them with championship football.
“I do think that for fans to get there a little early and show appreciation for what these guys have done here over the last four or five years would certainly mean a lot to the coaches, myself and to the players and their families,” Saban said. “I certainly thank you for that.”