Media swarms Tuscaloosa as Tide prepares for first fall scrimmage

The Alabama Crimson Tide was once again in the national spotlight on Thursday, and even more so than usual. Several national media outlets were on campus as Alabama endured the summer sun following its first two-a-day practice of fall camp.

ESPN was in Tuscaloosa with its College Football Bus parked outside the Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility. Head coach Nick Saban and senior quarterback AJ McCarron spent the day doing interviews with ESPN reporters, including Tom Rinaldi. CBS's 60 Minutes was also in town working on its documentary of Saban and the football team.

But that didn’t dismiss the players and coaches from the Alabama heat and humidity.

Saban said this part of camp is the toughest on the players, as many of them are experiencing soreness, as well as the dealing with the heat.

“This is really the dog days of camp for every player,” Saban said. “Two-a-day yesterday, one-a-day today, two-a-day tomorrow, scrimmage on Saturday. It takes a lot of sort of mental discipline, self-discipline, to be able to stay focused in the conditions.”

To take the players’ minds off of the strenuous practice schedule, Saban has been bringing in various guest speakers.

Joe Girardi was the latest in the string of recognizable speakers to address the team. The New York Yankees’ manager addressed the Crimson Tide players and coaches before Thursday’s afternoon practice.

“He talked about how there are only three things that really can affect a team when you have high expectations,” Saban said. “Obviously, [the Yankees] have had a lot of tough circumstances this year with injuries, but there’s still high expectations.”

Despite the Yankees’ recent woes on the diamond, junior defensive back Vinnie Sunseri was especially excited to to have Girardi speak to the team.

“That was awesome, especially being a Yankees fan,” Sunseri said. “He came here, and I was googly-eyed and everything.

“He said a lot of good things, a lot of things that we to listen to and not just pass of. He’s a great manager of the game. A lot of stuff that he said relates to us, and we’ve got to take it to heart.”

The media swirled around Tuscaloosa on Thursday, and with it brought storylines from around the sporting world.

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel faces potential NCAA retribution after allegedly receiving payment for his signature. Saban said he and his players try to do everything they can for their fans, but they have to be careful.

“It’s not a problem for you to autograph, but it is against NCAA rules for you to accept anything for them,” Saban said. “It’s in our team rules and policies, but we also have compliance meetings with our players once a month or whatever that we try to reinforce those rules. When something comes up that brings attention to it, we usually try to go reinforce it again. We try to keep a close watch on our players so that that’s not an issue or a problem.”

Other notes from Thursday’s fall practice:

  • Redshirt freshman defensive lineman Dakota Ball underwent an emergency appendectomy on Wednesday. “He’ll be a couple of weeks,” Saban said. “That’s a medical decision, not my decision.” 
  • Scouts from San Diego Chargers and Minnesota Vikings were roaming the practice field on Thursday. 
  • Sports Illustrated also announced its preseason All-American teams. Alabama led the country with five selections, including three on the first team. C.J. Mosley, T.J. Yeldon and Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix were named to the first team, with Cyrus Kouandjio and Amari Cooper on the second team. 
  • Friday will be the second two-a-day of fall camp. Alabama will hold its first preseason scrimmage in Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday Aug. 10.

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