Nick Saban hopes ESPN TV series highlights program positives

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It is difficult to walk around the Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility and not bump into an ESPN cameraman or crew member. The worldwide leader in sports has set up camp at Alabama to film a four-part TV series, Training Days: Rolling with the Tide.

The cameras are noticeable to reporters, so they have to be hard to ignore for Alabama coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide players, right? Saban was asked about that Wednesday.

“I don’t really ignore it, which maybe is an issue because there may be some bleeps in there every now and then,” Saban said with a smile. “I’m counting on them to utilize their technical skills to make sure that we don’t say anything we shouldn’t say, which we don’t do very often.

“We’re usually very positive trying to teach the players in a positive way. Things like lack of effort, guys not focused, not paying attention, that mental energy and mental toughness to be able to sustain things I think is something that sometimes probably frustrates me as much as anything as a coach. When it comes to results that you get, it’s more about how did you do it and how can we fix it and how can we get better?”

Training Days: Rolling with the Tide goes inside practices and closed-door meetings to show the efforts of Saban, assistants and players as they prepare to defend their title. Produced by JM Associates and Sport Story in association with ESPN, it debuts later this evening with each subsequent episode airing Wednesdays. All of the hour-long episodes will air on ESPN2.

ESPN cameras have been at every preseason practice and will have a consistent presence around the Crimson Tide’s facility throughout the month of August. The series will feature:

— Saban and a variety of personalities around the program will be mic’d up during practices throughout the month.

— Inside team and coaches’ meetings, providing a glimpse of the program’s preparation beyond the practice field.

— Follow positional battles that emerge during training camp as players make their case for playing time, including at key positions.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban (Photo: Courtesy of Alabama Athletics)

In addition to ESPN’s access to practice and meetings, the summer series will provide an all-faceted look at the elements which comprise a first-class football program. Highlights include:

— A tour of Alabama’s football facilities and the benefits they provide the players, including the new athletics dining area, which is attached to the Mal Moore Athletic Facility.

— Fans and local media provide their vantage point following and working around one of the sport’s all-time most successful programs.

— A look at the life of the Alabama football players beyond the practice field.

Those last few bullet points are something Saban and company have been trying to show more and more of late — a different side of the Tide. One that accentuates the program’s plusses.

“I think there’s a lot of things about our program that may be brought to light that are real positives,” Saban said. “You know we have great people here. We have great players. We have a great support staff. It’s indicated by the personal development programs that we have, the progress that we make with our players as people, the great history of academic success that we have, and the people that we have helping our players and the system that we have that helps our players develop the kind of habits that help them be successful.

“We have a career development program. We have a great nutrition program. We have a great medical staff. We’ve got a good group of coaches who do a great job of teaching and developing players, which is sort of been the history around here in terms of the number of guys that had great success here. There’s a lot of good things about that, and we don’t mind that sometimes it gets brought to light.”

Training Days: Rolling with the Tide schedule

Episode 1 — Thursday, Aug. 9 at 6 p.m. CT — ESPN2

Episode 2 — Wednesday, Aug. 15 at 6 p.m. CT — ESPN2

Episode 3 — Wednesday, Aug. 22 at 6 p.m. CT — ESPN2

Episode 4 — Wednesday, Aug. 29 at 9 p.m. CT — ESPN2

Contact Charlie Potter by 247Sports’ personal messaging or on Twitter (@Charlie_Potter).

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