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May 14, 2014

Saban discusses Alabama-USC 2016 game speculation

HOOVER | Social media and Internet message boards were a flurry Wednesday morning with speculation that the University of Alabama football program had reached an agreement to play Southern Cal in neutral-site game in 2016 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Syndicated radio show personality Dan Patrick reported on his radio show earlier in the day that he received word from an official at USC that it looked like the game was well on its way to being made.

"This was sent to me by somebody important at USC," Patrick said. "2016, season opener, college football at Texas Stadium. USC. Alabama. How about that? I don't know if it's a done deal. It was just sent to me as a heads up."

UA coach Nick Saban said Wednesday nothing was official as of yet.

"Yeah, we're always looking," Saban said. "But not anything I can share with you right now. I don't think we want to create speculation. We're playing Wisconsin in Dallas the next year (2015), and we were supposed to play Penn State in 2016, they bailed out on us, so we're looking for an opponent to play somewhere in 2016 right now."

Saban met with reporters prior to his round of golf with Rocco Mediate in the Regions Tradition pro-am at Shoal Creek.

In the wake of college football's first openly gay player, Michael Sam, getting drafted into the NFL by the St. Louis Rams over the weekend, Saban was asked how he would manage his team if it had an openly gay player in the Crimson Tide locker room.

"I just know how I would handle it," Saban said. "I would expect everybody to be very respectful of what is private for most people and treat that person with dignity and respect and respect them for being a good teammate and being a part of our team and doing the things that require them to be a good person on our team.

"I can't speak for everybody, but that's what would be my expectation for the people that we control in our organization and on our team."

Saban also addressed the negativity surrounding his former quarterback AJ McCarron's slide in the NFL Draft. McCarron, who previously said he received feedback that he could go as early as the first round, slipped to the fifth round to the Cincinnati Bengals.

That could be a blessing, Saban said.

"Everybody needs to understand - recruiting, the draft, personnel evaluation - it's the most inexact science there is in the world," Saban said. "So that's why everybody needs to not worry about where they get picked but what opportunity do I have now? And specifically, like AJ's case, I think he has a wonderful opportunity.

"He's going to a good team, they have a good offensive line, they've got good receivers, they've got a good runner, they've got a good defense. They've been to the playoffs a couple years in a row. And they have a quarterback situation that a lot of people view as something that's not stable. So how can you have a better opportunity?

"Eddie Lacy was a great example last year - everybody's upset because he didn't get drafted in the first round, but ends up being rookie of the year, went to a good team, gave him a chance to be successful and he took advantage of it. You can understand that when things don't work out in the draft, people are emotional when it doesn't work out like they want it. But I think they'll all come around and focus on the opportunity that they have and be happy with it."

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