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June 1, 2010

Saban says he's happy at Alabama, talks about expansion

Nick Saban has a little bit of a different perspective than most when it comes to expansion because before he arrived in the Southeastern Conference and eventually the University of Alabama he was the head coach at Michigan State.

With expansion the buzz of the SEC Spring Meetings, which got under way Tuesday in Destin, he was naturally asked his opinion.

"Even when I was back in the Big Ten, and I really think that's the key to all this stuff, it was always about Notre Dame then," Saban told reporters. "Each year there was a big discussion about trying to get Notre Dame to join the Big Ten and I think that's a lot of what it's about now, and they may have some alternatives.

"I'm sure expansion is something they want to do to improve their league with their TV contracts and get a situation like we have with a great championship game."

Even though Commissioner Mike Slive continues to preach that the SEC is "very comfortable" in its current 12-school configuration, the conference would almost certainly react should the Big Ten grow to a 16-team format. What that might include, though, is a long way from being decided.

Other subjects to be addressed in Destin include football scheduling, artificial noisemakers and seeding in the men's basketball tournament and on Friday schools will learn their annual financial payouts from the league.

Last year the conference distributed a record $132.5 million among its 12 member schools, with football making $52 million and each receiving approximately $11.1 million. With new television contacts from CBS and ESPN kicking in this year's payout could be significantly more.

"It's better than it's ever been," Saban said about the league's growth since he first arrived at LSU.

Saban says
According to numerous reports, Saban spoke on a variety of topics including that he was happy at Alabama, which would be his last job.

"If they get a football team at Lake Burton, I might go there," he said about his home in northern Georgia. "Otherwise, I am where I am."

The coach and his wife Terry had dinner with Vince and Barbara Dooley over the weekend. Derek Dooley, now the head coach at Tennessee, was formerly an assistant coach for Saban.

"I think he's going to do an outstanding job there," he said.

Meanwhile, Florida coach Urban Meyer disclosed the diagnosis for his chest pains, "esophageal spasms," which he said led to swallowing problems and muscle contractions. The coach added that he hasn't had any pain since being put on the proper medication in January.

Transfer update
As expected reserve quarterback Star Jackson has decided to transfer to upstart Georgia State, which will visit Tuscaloosa this season on Nov. 20.

Jackson played in five games this past season, mostly in mop-up duty, and completed 13 of 18 passes for 116 yards. He was passed on the depth chart by freshman A.J. McCarron and after being suspended for academic reasons during the spring was even working behind true freshman Phillip Sims at times.

He was 6-of-11 for 100 yards and one touchdown pass, 25-yards to running back Demetrius Goode on A-Day, his final time in an Alabama uniform.

Jackson's departure coincided with basketball losing yet another of its few big players, with 6-foot-8 forward Demetrius Jemison being released from his scholarship after graduating in May.

"Demetrius Jemison will not return to UA for a fifth season of competition," Coach Anthony Grant said in a release. "Demetrius has completed his degree requirements at UA and has decided to pursue other options. We are thankful for his contribution to our team over the course of his career and we wish him continued success."

Jemison's departure is on the heels of Justin Knox landing in North Carolina. He averaged 3.9 points and 3.9 rebounds during three seasons, but missed all of last year with a ruptured Achilles tendon.

"I just thought that maybe trying something new and something different would probably be the best for me," Jemison told the Mobile Press-Register.


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