ALL HANDS ON DECK
Stoops said his team had no academic casualties and that the traveling party included everyone he expected.
The Crimson Tide lists just 16 seniors on its roster. But Saban says 28 of his players already have graduated. And his fifth-year seniors have been a part of 60 victories in those five years.
“We are very proud of what this team has been able to accomplish this year,” Saban said, “and they certainly deserve the opportunity to be in a BCS bowl game. “Our senior class … the challenge for us is to continue that success for them and our team and the future of our program.”
Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, on if he thinks this game is being taken seriously: “I was playing dominoes with the family last night, and I won that. I want to win everything.”
SUGAR BOWL VETERANS
This is Stoops' third Sugar Bowl. But it's Saban's fourth, plus a BCS championship game at the Superdome.
“We've always been treated first class by the city of New Orleans, the people on the Allstate Sugar Bowl committee and all the people who make this one of the most prestigious bowl games in the country,” Saban said.
Saban is 3-1 in bowl games at the Superdome, losing only to Utah after the 2008 season.
Stoops is 1-1 in the Sugar, having lost to LSU for the 2003 national title but beating Florida State for the 1996 national title while the defensive coordinator at Florida.
“I've had both experiences,” Stoops said. “I was here in '96 with Coach Spurrier … always remember that in a great way. Had a tough one in 2003 when we end up losing to LSU in the national championship in a tough, hard-fought game. But you're in it long enough, you're going to get both sides of it to some degree.”