CFB: Demeanor debate: Tide serious, Longhorns giddy
By JAIME ARON
AP Sports Writer
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — Alabama coach Nick Saban showed up to media day for the BCS championship game wearing a cream-colored suit and a tie with diagonal stripes. Texas coach Mack Brown appeared in a burnt-orange, short-sleeved polo shirt with a big ol’ Longhorn logo on it.
Saban got up and left when the horn went off indicating his 60 minutes were done. Brown lingered, spinning a few more stories, shaking a few more hands.
Crimson Tide players talked about being on a business trip. Longhorns players went around interviewing each other and goofing off while taking pictures with the BCS trophy.
Over back-to-back sessions in the same ballroom Tuesday, the difference in demeanor between No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Texas was easy to spot.
Whether it will mean anything Thursday night is hard to say, especially considering both coaches have won national titles in recent years.
But it’s clear that any breakdown of this matchup needs to include serious vs. giddy alongside things like SEC vs. Big 12 and smashmouth offense vs. spread offense.
“I think Coach Brown said it best: ’We need to come in here and have fun and do what we’ve been doing all year. Don’t make it any bigger than it is,”’ Longhorns quarterback Colt McCoy said. “That’s kind of my mentality and our team’s mentality.
“When we’re out there focused and having fun, that’s when we’re playing to the best of our ability,” McCoy continued. “That’s exactly what we need to do headed into this game, because we are focused, we are prepared.”
Maybe the Longhorns can relax because McCoy and nine other players have been here before.
While none played in the 2006 Rose Bowl that determined the national championship, they were all watching from the sideline as Vince Young wiped out a late deficit to pull off an upset of No. 1 Southern Cal.
Young persuaded Brown to loosen up throughout that ’05 season. Considering how things turned out, it makes sense that he’s stuck with a carpe diem approach.
So, actually, his casual approach is just another day at the office. He’s handling things in California the same way he does in Austin, all in hopes that players approach the biggest game of their lives as if it’s just No. 14 on their schedule.
“Coach Brown just wants to make sure that everybody knows that we don’t have to do anything other than what we’ve been doing every week,” wide receiver Jordan Shipley said. “Just go out and play football.”
Then again, the same can be said for Alabama.
Saban is all-business and proud of it, treating the media session as nothing more than the 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. slot on his agenda.
“At this point, it’s almost like getting on a flight,” he said. “It takes a long time to board and check your bags and all that kind of stuff, but now we’re ready to take off. You’ve got to go through your checklist and make sure you get it right and do it right and get ready to go out there and play your best game of the year.”
Several times this week, Saban has talked to his team about the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, the “Miracle on Ice” squad.
Considering the Tide is favored, his message could be to avoid the fate of the Soviet Union team that was upset. Instead, it’s been about coming together like that group of unheralded Americans at Lake Placid.
“He’s been talking about that movie and that team a lot this week to make sure that we’re staying focused on this goal of what we need to do,” linebacker Cory Reamer said, “and not straying too far away from it with all the distractions that we have around us.”
But is Saban having any fun?
“I think he’s enjoying his work,” Reamer said. “I think he’s enjoying the process and the fact that we’re here playing for this big of a game. He’s enjoying preparing and getting the team ready for it. I’m sure he’ll have a lot of fun afterward when we win.”