When Nick Saban arrived Monday afternoon at Fairhope Stadium — the site of the first Senior Bowl practice — the whole atmosphere changed. Donning an Alabama-red sports coat with an “A” pin on the lapel, Saban strolled onto the sidelines as a wave of media began forming around him. Kids yelled from the stands: “Look, it’s him!”
There was no question whose state we were in.
After a brief session with reporters, Saban was swiftly escorted by Eagles public relations to where Chip Kelly was standing. Kelly wanted to use the opportunity to catch up with the Alabama coach. The two took in practice together and talked for about 15-20 minutes before Saban disappeared out of site.
“I’m excited for Chip. He’s done a fantastic job,” said Saban. “He’s been a real innovator in college football with some of the things that he has done, and we have a tremendous amount of respect for the great job he did at Oregon in terms of the kind of program and record and success that he had there, and I think he’ll do just fine in the NFL.”
Saban, who just captured his third national title in four years, is one of the examples used when discussing the danger of placing a college coach in NFL waters. For all his success on the college level, he went just 15-17 in two years with the Dolphins.
“When college guys go to the NFL — when I went the first time — how you bring players to your team is different, how you manage your squad is a little bit different than the way you motivate younger players,” said Saban. “But to be able to do that, to make those transitions and still develop your younger players, is a real key to being successful.”
KELLY, VICK MEET
Kelly had a one-on-one with Michael Vick on Friday. He talked about the meeting following practice Monday.
“It was good. First time I got a chance to meet Michael,” said Kelly. “It was just sit down, kind of tell me about yourself. See where he’s coming from. I really liked my meeting with Michael.”
Kelly also got to watch a little bit of film on Vick, but he’s had a full plate since being named head coach of the Eagles and hasn’t been able to fully dedicate himself to it.
“Sometimes it’s on the phone, tape’s in the background, a lot of different things going on — you’ve got to multi-task,” said Kelly. “Still in the process of doing all that stuff but got to look at a little film.”
The Eagles have to make a decision on Vick in the near future. If he is still on the roster three days after the Super Bowl, a $3 million guarantee kicks in.
Kelly has spoken with Nick Foles as well, he said. Foles would not be a fit for the read-option offense Kelly ran at Oregon, but the coach has stressed the importance of adapting to the personnel on your roster. Kelly was asked if he ever used West-Coast offense concepts in his play-calling.
“Yeah,” said Kelly, “everybody has.”
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