Alabama AD: Tide football on unprecedented run

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama athletic director Bill Battle isn't sure any football program has ever topped the Crimson Tide's current run under Nick Saban.

Battle's background and perspective make that high praise, indeed. He played for coach Paul "Bear" Bryant's first national championship team at Alabama in 1961 and was a successful Southeastern Conference head coach.

"I think what they've done is unprecedented," Battle said Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press. "I have admired what they've done from afar, and for the last few months, have admired what they do up front. Coach Saban has got a great program going. He is as focused and intense a guy as I've ever been around. Everything that they do, they peel back all the layers to get down to what needs to be done as well as anybody I've ever seen.

"The impact not just on the football program but on the athletic department in general has been felt. They have motivated all of us to do a better job in all areas, from academics to life skills to other sports."

Saban has led the Tide to back-to-back national titles and three of the past four. Battle makes it clear he's not elevating Saban above his own revered former coach but taking into consideration the current climate where college football has become an "arms race" with huge salaries and facilities and TV contracts in the Southeastern Conference and elsewhere getting pricey upgrades.

Bryant led Alabama to 323 wins and six national championships. Saban's only halfway there on the title front, albeit in only six seasons, but his program hasn't shown any signs of slowing down.

"What coach Bryant did was unprecedented at the time, I think," said Battle, who spent seven seasons as Tennessee's head coach in the 1970s. "This is a different time. I don't think that competition has ever been greater in the history of college football than it is today. I think from that reference, there are a lot of people that are putting a lot of money into football and all sports.

"That hasn't happened in the past as much as it has today."

Battle has nearly three months on the job since replacing a former 'Bama teammate, the late Mal Moore. His position seems a little like a president taking over during economic boom times, when the big question is how long he can keep the party going.

Besides football, Alabama has collected national championships in four other sports the past two academic years. A new $9 million athletic training facility stands near his corner office, and 101,821-seat Bryant-Denny Stadium has been expanded four times since 1988.

"Somebody told me yesterday, 'It looks to me like they've put you in the Daytona 500 in the lead lap and told you to stay in front for 499 more laps,'" Battle said. "Yeah, it's a good time to be at the university. Sometimes it's harder to stay on top than it is to get to the top. It's a great time to be here, with great people. I don't see our challenge as to maintain, I see our challenge as to move forward. That's what our plan is."

A new baseball stadium and rowing facility are in the planning stages and Battle is hoping they'll be done in the next few years.

"We just need to keep on working hard because every day everybody else is coming after us," Battle said.

Battle also discussed other issues facing the SEC and college athletics these days.

Saban was the only coach at the league's spring meetings voting for a nine-game SEC schedule, but Battle thinks that change is coming.

Battle and Saban also favor SEC teams joining the Big Ten in agreeing not to schedule future FCS opponents, which often means asking fans to come out for guaranteed mismatches.

"I think that the fans deserve better games and we need to pay attention to the fans," Battle said. "The high-definition television is really good. There are some cool places to watch it from and see games up close and personal. It's a challenge to all of us in the sports business, particularly those with big stadiums, that we need to make the fan experience a whole lot better."

Battle also has an interest in a suit filed by former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon against the NCAA seeking unspecified damages for the use of former players' likenesses in video games and other material.

Battle founded Collegiate Licensing Company in 1981, which he sold 26 years later. The company's Web site said its partners make up nearly 80 percent of the $4.6 billion retail market for collegiate licensed merchandise.

Battle said he believes athletes have been treated fairly and notes that the total cost of a year at Alabama is some $30,000 for an in-state student and perhaps double that for out-of-state students, while only two of 21 sports make money.

"We're for increasing dollars, if you will, to pay for the full academic experience but to pay players their worth, if that happens legally, it'll change the whole face of intercollegiate athletics, and I don't think it'll be better," Battle said. "What courts decide, I don't know. But I think our system is really good."

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Comments » 35

FWBVol writes:

John Zenor and AP need to do a little fact checking on this story. Yes, Bear Bryant won six national championships at Alabama and 323 games as a head coach. But 91 of those wins came before he got the Alabama job.

MooseandSquirrelVol writes:

Indeed Bama is on an unprecedented run.
This too shall pass.

Henley-Street-Bridge writes:

Who runs the program; Bill Battle or Nick Saban? Put your "Battle Hat" on and ask that question in Tuscaloosa.

CrankE writes:

Yep, everything from Harvey UPdyke to Brian DOWNing. Watch out you don't get "too much Bama in you."

Parole Tide.

CrankE writes:

in response to Henley-Street-Bridge:

Who runs the program; Bill Battle or Nick Saban? Put your "Battle Hat" on and ask that question in Tuscaloosa.

Think bigger.

Who runs the league office. Mike Slive or Nick Saban?

keepitreal4vols writes:

BARF

Chappy writes:

What is this fluff piece of phooey doing on the Vol fan site? If I wanted Bama sunshine blown up my arse, I would go to a Bama site.

ctwins writes:

in response to FWBVol:

John Zenor and AP need to do a little fact checking on this story. Yes, Bear Bryant won six national championships at Alabama and 323 games as a head coach. But 91 of those wins came before he got the Alabama job.

Coach Bryants 1966 team went 11-0 blew out Nebraska in the Orange Bowl, and the AP NC went to ND, 9-0-1, and declined a bowl game. His 1977 team was ranked #3 before a 35-6 blowout of Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. The AP NC went to ND, ranked #5 before their Cotton Bowl win. Both teams finished 11-1. Coach Bryant should have finished with 8, but he did have 13 SEC Titles in 25 yrs and that record will NEVER be matched. Yea Alabama and Roll Tide.

Go4Two writes:

Maybe Battle can do for Alabama football the same as he did for Tennessee football. Go Vols

antonio14313 writes:

well, good for you.

"We just need to keep on working hard because every day everybody else is coming after us," Battle said.

yup, ya got that right! GO VOLS!!!

t

antonio14313 writes:

in response to Chappy:

What is this fluff piece of phooey doing on the Vol fan site? If I wanted Bama sunshine blown up my arse, I would go to a Bama site.

true! i think that this site is becoming more of an SEC site, and less of a UT site; which is ok, i guess. it ain't my site. lol. (i thought that this still was an interesting article, but i guess that it was put here to spark us Vols into bama bashing. parole tide...)

go vols.

t

secten#238516 writes:

I'm with you Chappy!

SevenT writes:

Battle is absolutely right that SEC schools should not schedule mismatched FCS teams.

Tennessee Fan claims they are some sort of a power football program yet they continue to schedule the crud FCS teams to buy a win and hopefully become Bowl eligible. Does anyone really think FCS powerhouse Austin Pea is a worth opponent, yet they are on UT's schedule next year. What a joke Tennessee Football has become.

GOJO writes:

I don't give a Damn about the whole state of Alabam,
I'm fron Tennessee.

CoverOrange writes:

I had often wondered how schools, video game mfgers, etc., could use likenesses of "amateur" players to promote themselves without repercussions. Should be an interesting court case.

On not playing FCS. Tennessee was late to the game in scheduling FCS teams compared to other SEC teams. Thanks to the expansion to 12 games, Hamilton and Dooley that has happened more often. Ready for it to end. However, patsies still exist to be scheduled in the FBS.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to ctwins:

Coach Bryants 1966 team went 11-0 blew out Nebraska in the Orange Bowl, and the AP NC went to ND, 9-0-1, and declined a bowl game. His 1977 team was ranked #3 before a 35-6 blowout of Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. The AP NC went to ND, ranked #5 before their Cotton Bowl win. Both teams finished 11-1. Coach Bryant should have finished with 8, but he did have 13 SEC Titles in 25 yrs and that record will NEVER be matched. Yea Alabama and Roll Tide.

Denied by the spectre of southern racism. The media has never been objective.

keepitreal4vols writes:

in response to Go4Two:

Maybe Battle can do for Alabama football the same as he did for Tennessee football. Go Vols

well played sir, well played.

Central_IL_Vol writes:

in response to ctwins:

Coach Bryants 1966 team went 11-0 blew out Nebraska in the Orange Bowl, and the AP NC went to ND, 9-0-1, and declined a bowl game. His 1977 team was ranked #3 before a 35-6 blowout of Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. The AP NC went to ND, ranked #5 before their Cotton Bowl win. Both teams finished 11-1. Coach Bryant should have finished with 8, but he did have 13 SEC Titles in 25 yrs and that record will NEVER be matched. Yea Alabama and Roll Tide.

Interesting that a Crimson T#RD Moron would be trolling on a Vol site. It must be a slow day for poisoning trees, tea-bagging, combing mullets, brushing a tooth, swilling the PBR in the double-wide or marrying a relative amongst the members of the Bammer Moron Nation!

Rammer Jammer, Yeller Hammer; GO TO HE#L ALABAMMER!

Central_IL_Vol writes:

in response to SevenT:

Battle is absolutely right that SEC schools should not schedule mismatched FCS teams.

Tennessee Fan claims they are some sort of a power football program yet they continue to schedule the crud FCS teams to buy a win and hopefully become Bowl eligible. Does anyone really think FCS powerhouse Austin Pea is a worth opponent, yet they are on UT's schedule next year. What a joke Tennessee Football has become.

Who asked for your input, MORON.

Go troll another site you worthless piece of cr#p!

volistic writes:

I thought Alabama had 87 national championships in football. Didn't they just award themselves 3 more last week?

volistic writes:

"I think that the fans deserve better games and we need to pay attention to the fans,"

Umm, good luck when Chattanooga comes to Tuscaloosa this year, coach. Oh, and that game is not an early season warm-up. It's being played on Nov. 23. I'm sure the bama fans will love it, while reading about how concerned you and Saban are about mismatches.

lemme_axya_this writes:

in response to SevenT:

Battle is absolutely right that SEC schools should not schedule mismatched FCS teams.

Tennessee Fan claims they are some sort of a power football program yet they continue to schedule the crud FCS teams to buy a win and hopefully become Bowl eligible. Does anyone really think FCS powerhouse Austin Pea is a worth opponent, yet they are on UT's schedule next year. What a joke Tennessee Football has become.

Kintucky schedules "crud FCS teams" too, they just aren't considered a mismatch.

HooRay_Vol writes:

Buck Fama!

SevenT writes:

in response to lemme_axya_this:

Kintucky schedules "crud FCS teams" too, they just aren't considered a mismatch.

Let me Axya This:

Do you recall a few years ago when Tennessee completely wimped out / backed out YELLOW of a game with North Carolina?

Tennessee scheduled powerhouse FCS team called
BUFFALO!!!

It is one thing to schedule and keep your schedule it is quite another to chicken out of a match because you want a weak team and a buy-win.

Just Saying

lemme_axya_this writes:

in response to SevenT:

Let me Axya This:

Do you recall a few years ago when Tennessee completely wimped out / backed out YELLOW of a game with North Carolina?

Tennessee scheduled powerhouse FCS team called
BUFFALO!!!

It is one thing to schedule and keep your schedule it is quite another to chicken out of a match because you want a weak team and a buy-win.

Just Saying

Once again you have only isolated incidents to point to. Hamilton buying out of that game was pathetic, but he's gone now. Kintucky fans aren't even disapointed by bad football teams. Good basketball and bad football, Kintucky fans expect both.

volguy#211935 writes:

You know what warms the cockles of my Big Orange heart? Seeing such venom spewed toward ala-stinkin'-bama! #GBO #VFL

tennesseetyler writes:

You know seven T makes a great point.. Tennessee should stop scheduling crud FCS teams.. we should start by eliminating Kentucky off the schedule..

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

Well, if Bill's as bad of an A.D. as he was a HC bammer will slide to mediocrity.

RollTideJoe writes:

in response to Central_IL_Vol:

Interesting that a Crimson T#RD Moron would be trolling on a Vol site. It must be a slow day for poisoning trees, tea-bagging, combing mullets, brushing a tooth, swilling the PBR in the double-wide or marrying a relative amongst the members of the Bammer Moron Nation!

Rammer Jammer, Yeller Hammer; GO TO HE#L ALABAMMER!

You obviously have a problem. Hate must consume you. Everything you say could easily be replied with equal sarcasm, but I wouldn't waste my time.

chattabluetick writes:

When Tennessee was beating Bama 9 of 10 years (1995-2004) I doubt seriously there were articles written on the Bama site saying how great the Vols were. Stop with all the praise and worsip of Alabama on this site. Rome fell and so shall the Tide. The cycle of the moon shall change once again and bring about Low tide!

utvolfan1955 writes:

in response to SevenT:

Battle is absolutely right that SEC schools should not schedule mismatched FCS teams.

Tennessee Fan claims they are some sort of a power football program yet they continue to schedule the crud FCS teams to buy a win and hopefully become Bowl eligible. Does anyone really think FCS powerhouse Austin Pea is a worth opponent, yet they are on UT's schedule next year. What a joke Tennessee Football has become.

Kentucky plays Alabama State. That's much better than Austin Peay lol. Your dad would really be proud of the way you bash UT

chipmurphy461 writes:

ALABAMA AD: TIDE FOOTBALL ON UNPRECEDENTED RUN... BUT WHEN IT ENDS AND ALL THE EVIDENCE OF A LACK OF INSTITUTIONAL CONTROL IS REVEALED BOY ARE WE GOING TO BE IN TROUBLE, BECAUSE WE ALL KNOW IN THIS DAY AND AGE YOU DON'T WIN LIKE THIS LEGITIMATELY

dvols writes:

the story here is:

Coach Battle founded the Collegiate Licensing Co. which is now worth $4.2 billion....

Central_IL_Vol writes:

in response to RollTideJoe:

You obviously have a problem. Hate must consume you. Everything you say could easily be replied with equal sarcasm, but I wouldn't waste my time.

You are the one with a problem; this is a VOL page and I am a VOL fan. Unless RollT#RDJoe is code for GO VOLS, you are in the wrong place!

Again I ask, why do the Updyke's troll on a Vol site???

Orange_Beach writes:

in response to shiftb:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The only person that thought Dave Hart was going to be the AD at The Capstone after Coach Moore died was Dave himself. And to be honest with you most thought Ozzie Newsome was going to get the job.

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