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January 1, 2014

INSIDER REPORT: Stoops calls Alabama 'best team in the country'

NEW ORLEANS | Bob Stoops didn't mince words when speaking about Alabama on Wednesday afternoon at the final press availability before the Sugar Bowl.
The veteran Oklahoma head coach had high praise for the Crimson Tide.

"I think everyone would agree -- in my eyes, they're still the best team in the country," Stoops said. "Here they are, they've been the best team in the country for three years, up to the very last play of the regular season. I think everybody would say they're as good a football team as we've played in 15 years. How can you not?"
Stoops has played his fair share of great teams, including national championship winners LSU (2003), USC (2004), Texas (2005) and Florida (2008). He said Alabama is better than all of them.

"Like I said, they're one second away from playing in a third straight national championship game," Stoops said. "So they're a great, great team with great talent and across the board, and, again, very well coached."
The praise didn't end there. Asked his opinion on senior linebacker C.J. Mosley, Stoops again spoke in glowing terms.

"I think C.J. Mosley is as fine a football player as I've seen in my time here at Oklahoma in 15 years, and that's the truth," he said. "Just an absolute perfect football player when you look at the physical abilities he has and competitive nature. He just plays so hard and the talent and physical, how physical he is.

"There's time I marvel at it. You have him blocked and he shouldn't make the play, and there he is taking on another block and making the play or making it bounce to someone else who does make the play and it shouldn't happen that way. Other people would be blocked and the guy would get 10 yards. He's a great player, and you have to be aware of where he is all the time."

Senior Bowl

A report surfaced Wednesday that quarterback AJ McCarron, a Mobile resident, will not accept an invitation to the Senior Bowl, according to NFL.com senior analyst Gil Brandt.

Alabama players Mosley, Kevin Norwood, Cody Mandell have officially accepted invitations and Ed Stinson and Deion Belue said this week they will accept after the bowl game.

Made for TV

UA coach Nick Saban is no stranger to television appearances. From the big screen ("The Blind Side") to a Nike commercial to guest analyst appearances, Saban says yes to being in front of the camera for the betterment of his program.

"Well, you know, to be honest, I think it's really good exposure for our program to be involved in some of those kinds of things and actually be able to have an opportunity to express your beliefs and I certainly respect your beliefs, in terms of how you think things should be done," Saban said.

Saban then went on to take a playful jab at reporters in the room.

"And so all of a sudden I get to get on the other side and I get to say how I think things should be done and get an opportunity to be just like you, which is really what I've always wanted to be," Saban said, grinning ear to ear.

New Year's Resolution

Saban began his news conference wishing everyone the best of luck in keeping their respective New Year's resolutions.

When asked what he wanted to get accomplished in 2014, Saban said he hasn't thought about it yet.

"You know what, I'm going to wait until after the game to make any New Year's resolutions," Saban said. "I think that when you get in this and you're in bowl preparation or any game week, you sort of forget the day of the week relative to the rest of the world, and it's really all about what you're doing on that particular day to prepare for the game.

"So I really didn't make any, but I plan to. And I'm hopeful that I'll have enough discipline to see it through. For a whole year."

Reach Aaron Suttles at aaron@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0229.


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