NEW ORLEANS -- It’s only natural that Alabama coach Nick Saban would be quizzed this week about his time at LSU, especially with Monday’s Allstate BCS National Championship Game being played in the state of Lousiana.
Saban rebuilt the LSU program and led the Tigers to the 2003 national championship before leaving for the NFL following the 2005 season and then returning to the SEC in 2007 to take over Alabama’s program, a move that didn't exactly endear him to those on the Bayou.
He has been asked several different ways leading up to the game about coaching against his old team and, specifically, about doing it here in the Big Easy.
Saban’s response has been pretty consistent, that he will always have great respect for the people in Louisiana and is proud of what was accomplished at LSU during his five seasons there.
But it’s also clear, in his mind, that ship sailed a long time ago.
"I have a lot of special memories of my experience here in Louisiana at LSU for what was accomplished in the program here, and no one's ever going to take that away," Saban said. "I have a lot of special relationships with a lot of people in Louisiana who appreciate that and have continued to be very good friends and relationships that I really cherish.
"So there's really nothing from a personal standpoint in all of this for me. It's not about that. It's about a lot of other things that are a lot bigger than me or anything that's ever happened to me, and I would hope that people can appreciate and respect that. We understand that we're on the other side now, and I appreciate people's passion for their institution. I appreciate our fans and their passion for our institution, as well as everyone else's. And I respect that ... it's all good."
Later, Saban quipped that the only thing really different about playing a team he's coached in the past is that he has to change his cell phone number, at least every time he faces LSU.
"Because people blow up my phone," said Saban, adding that he's not the only one in his family that hears it from LSU fans.
"[Saban's wife] Terry's, too, actually," he said.
When asked when he would reflect on his time at LSU, Saban shot back, "Certainly not in the next how many hours we have until the game. I'm focused on what we can do for our team.
"I guess when I go back to West Virginia and I get on the side of the mountain and watch the creek go by, I might think about some of that. I don't know when that time's coming, but I hope not too soon."