ORLANDO _ Weather was a common topic of discussion for the University of Alabama football team Sunday as it returned to the practice field in preparation for Michigan State and the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1.
Working in the stadium at Dr. Phillips High School in the heart of the city, the team had to deal with cold, windy conditions that had most players wearing long sleeves and pants. The temperature was 43 degrees, but the nearby airport recorded steady 24-mph winds, which made it feel like 33 degrees out.
Consequently, few were expected to take advantage of the scheduled team trip to SeaWorld in the late afternoon (attendance not mandatory).
"I'm sure we'll go through a little bit of transition as everyone gets back into the swing of things," Coach Nick Saban said.
With no new injuries Saban's most serious concern appeared to be the stomach flu, which is still making the rounds as a couple more players arrived feeling under the weather.
Just like last week, Mark Barron (pectoral), Jonathan Atchison (bicep) and B.J. Scott (ankle) rode exercise bikes during the viewing period and are all out following surgery. Freshman linebacker Adrian Hubbard (back spasms) was also wearing black but working the stairs.
Sophomore cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (foot) and senior linebacker Chavis Williams (head) were both back in their usual spots.
While Michigan State traveled together as a team the Alabama players opted to pocket the per diem and travel on their own. Two were delayed by the weather, with one arriving late Saturday and the other Sunday morning.
Incidentally, the Crimson Tide's team flight, which included everyone but players, was rushed out of Tuscaloosa on Saturday morning to avoid potential snow in the area.
Saban comments on Aaron Douglas
Saban hinted that junior-college signee Aaron Douglas, who was arrested and charged with DUI in Tennessee over the weekend, might face some sort of disciplinary action when he enrolls in January.
"First of all I don't know a whole lot about it being over the holidays and this and that. We're in kind of a dead period so were in limited communication," Saban said. "We have ways to deal with that internally. The guy's not even here yet in our program. It's certainly not something that we want to be representative of our program. We'll deal with it when he gets here."
Douglas, who has a preliminary hearing scheduled for Dec. 29, signed his letter of intent approximately 10 days ago and is expected to challenge for the starting left tackle job.
The coach on some other topics:
Seeing all the Michigan State logos: "The game is about the players, it's really not about that other stuff. I know it makes good stories for you all to write about, and that kind of stuff, which is great, but really it's about our players, our team, what we need to do to play our best football. We're only better than the other team when we play our best. That's the focus of what we want to do to get our players to play their best game."
On the West Virginia coaching situation: "I don't know a lot about the West Virginia coaching situation. I am a West Virginia fan, I was when I was a three-year-old kid and I really have been all my life in terms of I always see how they do."
Saban said he's unaware of any of his coaches interviewing for jobs since wide receivers coach/recruiting coordinator Curt Cignetti was up for the head coaching job at Kent State.
Junior wide receiver Julio Jones drove down early "so I wouldn't be tired and drained," but also attended the Orlando Magic's victory over the Boston Celtics on Saturday.
Safety Robby Green, who is serving a year-long suspension, is not practicing with the team in Orlando.
Whatever upgrades Alabama made the high school facilities weren't noticeable to the casual observer.
According to Jones, Rob Ezell has been known to do Saban's voice during practice when a teammate makes a mistake and the coach didn't see it. "Before the show he used to do it all the time," said Jones, who then looked over both shoulders while continuing: "Now he's watching his back."
Saban joked with reporters about how never allowing his kids to open presents before Christmas backfired this year. He couldn't find his overcoat to take recruiting and his wife got him a new one but wouldn't let him have it. "I went to Kansas, Ohio twice, New York and it was cold."