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July 17, 2014

Saban holds court on final day in Hoover

Thursday was the fourth and final session of Southeastern Conference Media Days for 2014. ITG wraps up the final highlights of what was said at The Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala.

- Per usual at SEC Media Days, the arrival of Alabama and coach Nick Saban was greeted with great fanfare. One fan in the lobby carried a sign saying he flew all the way from Australia to meet Saban.

Once inside, Saban was stern and deliberate with his comments as always. After two recent player arrests, he addressed team discipline:

"When you have a family and you have someone in your family who disappoints you, we certainly can't kick them out of our family. I think we have to try to support them, teach them, get them to do the right things because we love them, we care about them. I want you to know that there's not one player, not one player, since I've been a head coach that I kicked off the team that ever went anywhere and amounted to anything and accomplished anything, playing or academically. Alright? That's not always the answer. Discipline is not punishment. Punishment is only effective when it can help change somebody's behavior."

- Saban continued to push for a structure in which all Big Five teams schedule to where they only play each other and no lesser opponents.

"It's what the fans want. I mean, we need to be more concerned about the people who support the programs and the university and come and see the games. I mean, those are the most important. But we never think about that. Everybody is worried about whether they're going to qualify to go to a bowl game, all that stuff."

- Media voting for SEC standings predictions came down Thursday. Alabama was the overwhelming favorite to win the conference. Florida was picked to finish third in the SEC East by media members in attendance.

Saban pointed out at the end of his press conference that his team has never won the SEC in a year where it was predicted to do so at SEC Media Days.

- The story of the week has been the mass exodus of top-tier quarterbacks in the conference. Few coaches have been as affected by that as Georgia's Mark Richt, though he sees an opportunity for the beginning of new eras in a time of great unknown.

"Some guys are going to have a chance to make a name for themselves. How many seasons start out where you just don't know what a guy's going to do?" he said. "Even Jameis Winston, Johnny Football, their first year of starting, all of a sudden they win the Heisman. So anything can happen with a guy who gets his opportunity. I wouldn't count out the quarterbacks in this league to play great."

- Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze showed up to Hoover with a buzzed haircut. He said he lost a golf bet to Steve Spurrier at the SEC Spring Meetings in Destin and in turn had to shave his head for Media Days.

- Talking about his 15-year-old daughter, Freeze said she ranks her favorite SEC coaches in order. Her No. 1: Les Miles, though he said she doesn't include her dad in the rankings. "I'd hope I'd be her No.1."

- Kentucky coach Mark Stoops announced Commonwealth Stadium will go to a Field Turf playing surface following the 2014 season.

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