Greg McElroy reflects on Alabama hiring Nick Saban: “You just knew it would work out”

Air It Out: Episode #11

Greg McElroy reflects on Alabama hiring Nick Saban: “You just knew it would work out”
ESPN College Football analyst and National Championship winning Quarterback, Greg McElroy, joins Rick Karle on the latest episode of Air It Out. (Source: WBRC)

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - ESPN College Football analyst and National Championship winning Quarterback, Greg McElroy, talks ending up at Alabama, playing for Nick Saban, and transitioning from the field to the broadcast booth.

Highlights from the episode include:

Picking Alabama

“When you play high school football in the state of Texas, football is important to you, and I wanted to go somewhere where football was important to the people and to the fanbase. And what better place than Alabama when it comes to the passion and the energy of the fanbase.”

Playing for Mike Shula

“Part of the reason why I chose to go to school [at Alabama] was also because I felt like Mike Shula was going to be here a long time. Some of the other schools I was considering were either in the midst of a coaching change or their coach was kind of in a lame duck situation…when I signed up to go to Alabama Mike Shula had just got the contract extension, and he was coming off a 10 win season, so I’m sitting here thinking this guy would be here forever."

When Nick Saban took over

“When Nick Saban came in, it was a blessing in disguise. There were sometimes where I was thinking maybe college football was just not in the cards, because Rich Rodriguez might become our head coach, and I don’t really fit what he wants to do offensively. So I’ll just go to school and I’ll figure it out, we’ll see what happens. I remember my first impressions, there were rumors flying…I can remember my mom at Christmas break. We had just played the Independence Bowl which we lost. It was kind of a hard first semester…a little homesick. And when Mike Shula got fired it only made that homesickness grow a little bit faster and deeper. But as soon as Nick Saban got hired, my mom sprinted upstairs…and she was all excited, losing her mind like ‘You got Saban! You got Saban’ and I remember thinking to myself, oh my gosh this is great. Because I’m Matt Mauck, I feel like I’m the same player as Matt Mauck, and he won the championship with that guy a few years ago.”

“It was a dream come true. It was an answered prayer, it really was. It was one of those things where, you didn’t think about it, you didn’t wish for it, you just knew it would work out. And it did.”

Beating the Gators

“Our whole year was dedicated to beating Florida. Because we came up short the year before, and we started talking about the Gators in early January, after we lost to Utah in the Sugar Bowl, and we wanted to avenge the loss…We knew if we wanted to become the standard in college football that was the team you had to beat. And we knew we could do it too.”

“Everybody went into [the SEC Championship] mad. When you have a team that has a lot of talent and a lot of incentives to prove people wrong it’s a dangerous recipe. We didn’t want to just beat them, we wanted to annihilate them.”

Nick Saban’s personality

“He’s not a guy that dwells or thinks about what was, he thinks about what is and what’s coming. It’s just the way he is, he’s just wired differently than most…It doesn’t mean he’s a robot. That’s what people misinterpret. He’s the farthest thing from robotic. Like he’s extremely witty, he loves to bust chops, he has gotten more approachable now as I’ve gotten more removed from the program…”

Becoming a broadcaster

“It’s so close to playing. It’s the closest thing to playing and coaching…it is the greatest job in the world. And what’s so fun about it too, is that you’re able to stay in the game without the stress and anxiety that surrounds being in the game…”

Check out the full episode to hear a breakdown of “The Drive” from the 2009 Iron Bowl, being linked to Tim Tebow, and how mom always knows best.

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