Alabama players drown out potentially "poison" media coverageBy Matthew Speakman | 10/12/2017 8:15pm
After Alabama’s 27-19 win over Texas A&M, Nick Saban – in a way that only he can pull off – was visibly upset because of his team's performance. He did not like the way Alabama finished the game. The Crimson Tide gave up 16 points in the second half, and committed its first turnover of the season.
Everyone expected Alabama to blow out the Aggies, so when that didn't happen, it was a bit of a shock. Saban said this was one of the biggest factors behind the close win. He wants the players to focus on him, not all of the media coverage praising the Crimson Tide week to week.
“I’m trying to get our players to listen to me, instead of listening to you guys,” Saban said to the media. “You know, all that stuff you write about how good we are? And all that stuff they hear on ESPN? It’s like poison. You know what I mean? It’s like poison. It’s like taking poison. Like rat poison. Alright, so I’m asking them, ‘Are you gonna listen to me, or are you gonna listen to these guys about how good you are?’”
Alabama players try their hardest to avoid social media and headlines to avoid getting a big head. They buy into Saban’s method of keeping the noise out so they can go out and do their job. While Saban is quick to criticize the media fairly often, linebacker Rashaan Evans said that is just a part of his personality. He said the team agrees with Saban’s comments.
“That's just coach Saban, man,” Evans said. “You can see he has a personality. I think that's a good thing for him to let everybody see that he has a personality. To be honest with you, I agree with what he said. Sometimes when you listen to a lot of what the media says about how good we are, it can affect your team. A lot of guys can get relaxed and we don't want that. We want to be as focused as possible, and finish what we started.”
Hearing positive media coverage is a double-edged sword for any time. On one hand, it shows that your team is on the right track, on the other hand, it can allow some players to go into games overly confident. Players have to make the choice of drowning out that coverage, or embracing it.
“That rat poison stuff, if we fall into that like ESPN, all that type stuff, we get the feeling that we’re better than we are, so we kinda don’t watch ESPN or stuff like that or watch them talk about Alabama, so we will have good practices,” wide receiver Cam Sims said.
Still, avoiding all media coverage is a tall order. Everyone has social media. Social media drives sports information, and players see news about them all of the time. Dealing with that can be tough.
Even if a player is off social media, they have family members who are proud of their accomplishments. They still get texts from family members, or get tagged in posts on Facebook if they have it.
“It’s kind of hard not to see that stuff, even if you don’t look into it or look that hard for it,” offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher said. “Even if you pull up Facebook, it’s right there. Everyone’s sharing it or whatnot. So you see the headlines. And a lot of times during the season, I don’t try to look at that stuff, stay off Twitter and whatnot. But you still see it and you still just kind of think about it.”
Still, Alabama has a team-wide consensus that the media can do more harm than good when it comes to complacency. Players want to avoid calling themselves a great team. That is why, so often, Alabama players discuss what they did wrong rather than what they did right.
Moving forward, Alabama will win more games, and Crimson Tide will try to keep level heads. Evans said they may need to be reminded, but everyone on the team has one goal, and doesn't want individual wins affect their feelings towards that goal.
“Sometimes you have to reiterate that to a lot of guys. Coach Saban does a good job of just making sure that we're level-headed and that we don't get the big head. That's probably the number one thing, just because we're winning doesn't mean anything. You can lose at anytime against any team. I think he did a great job of letting us know we can't get relaxed and we have to get better.”