Here for your inspection is the first of two stories in the print edition. This one is on football. Enjoy.
TUSCALOOSA — The week-to-week grind of a college football season creates a rhythmic drumbeat of practices and games.
Just when it reaches a crescendo, they pull the plug. Dealing with the long dead period between the regular season and bowl game preparation is an evolving science for Alabama head coach Nick Saban.
Conventional thinking took another turn with a full six weeks separating Alabama’s win over Auburn on Nov. 26 and the BCS title game with top-ranked LSU on Jan. 9. That meant time away from the football field, even as the hype couldn’t get any louder.
It’s not a matter of continuing the season. No, Alabama starts from scratch every December.
But Saban didn’t always take that approach. As a head coach at Michigan State in the mid-1990s, he tried to keep a season-like feel to practice despite going a month without games.
The Spartans would practice a few times the week after the last game, then have five or six workouts before Christmas.
“Then we’d do game-week stuff and by the time players got to the game, they were shot,” Saban said. “I don’t know if they were shot emotionally or physically or whatever. So we started taking more of the approach, with that much time off, there’s no way you can carry the momentum of the season to the bowl game — that you have to treat it more like a one-game season.”
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