TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA - SEPTEMBER 02: Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide during warms up prior to facing the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 02, 2023 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
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Alabama’s Saban Apologizes to Reporter in Uncharacteristic Moment

Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban apologized to a reporter he had previously dismissed after the team's Week 1 win.

After a press conference rant on Saturday, legendary Alabama football coach Nick Saban took the time to apologize to the reporter whose question spurred the outburst.

That's not something you see every day.

After Alabama's win over Middle Tennessee, Austin Hannon asked Saban if Jalen Milroe's performance in the game would help him moving forward. Saban responded by picking up the Coca-Cola bottle near him and astutely remarking that it was in fact a Coke bottle, not a crystal ball.

Milroe, who was ineffective in limited action last year behind superstar Bryce Young, had a great season opener, completing 13 of 18 passes with three touchdowns and no picks, as well as two scores on the ground. Saban's frustration with the question — which in itself was fairly reasonable — could be due to the general tendency toward early-season overreactions, of which there have been plenty. After just one game at the helm, Milroe has drawn comparisons to former Crimson Tide dual threat Jalen Hurts, who was SEC Offensive Player of the Year as a true freshman, was a Heisman Trophy runner-up, was a few snaps away from multiple national titles, is an NFL MVP and has been a few snaps away from a Super Bowl victory.

A few days later, Saban realized that he may have lashed out somewhat unfairly and apologized to Hannon, saying that the question was not a bad one. He expressed that Milroe's strong performance should in fact boost his confidence at the position, but also that a good outing does not negate the necessity to focus on areas for improvement. It was an interesting glance into the mentality of a true champion, as Saban's initial response was a product of a focus on a goal higher than simply having a nice opening week; he doesn't want praise until there are trophies being lifted, and he holds his players to the same lofty standard.

Hannon himself was surprised by the unprompted apology. Based on the coach's track record over his 17-season tenure in Tuscaloosa, the beat reporter was expecting a second public dressing-down. We'll see if Saban and Alabama can surprise us on the field as well. This is the most underestimated the team has been in years coming into a season, and its upcoming duel with Texas — which pushed Alabama to the brink last year — will be a major test for Milroe and the rest of the squad.

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