You're asking a lot of tough questions there," said Nick Saban, in response to a pair of questions that were not really tough at all, but also happened to veer into the realm of genuine human emotion, which is clearly not something Saban feels comfortable addressing in a public forum. It was a Saturday evening in Atlanta, and I presume Saban was relatively pleased, since his team had just survived an epic SEC Championship Game with Georgia and would now play for the national championship. But as usual, it was difficult to tell, and such was the obvious subtext of these queries. "I'm wondering, you personally, how long will you celebrate this win?" (Translation: Do you ever enjoy anything?) "How long will you let it soak in and when will you start preparing for Notre Dame personally?" (Translation: Do you even know how to enjoy anything?)
Already, on the trophy podium, as confetti and streamers popped out of the ceiling with a bang and the air grew hazy and the Georgia Dome took on the smell of an artillery range, Saban took out a pen and a notebook and marked down the word banquet. "First of all, you know, we have our team banquet tomorrow night," he said now, and then he rambled for a minute or two about how his team doesn't "practice our way to a game," about how he wouldn't fully focus in on Notre Dame for another couple of weeks, until his team started practicing in earnest. It was a deft and almost certainly false deflection; in the Alabama locker room a few minutes earlier, a linebacker named Nico Johnson was talking about how the Crimson Tide would essentially start over again this week, emphasizing the fundamentals, treating the next month like a repeat of fall camp, and insisting that they would essentially take no time at all to exhale because that was not the way their coach did things.