The Alabama football team is entering the meat of its SEC schedule with more questions than answers, at least off the field.
With more distractions than normal, the Crimson Tide is pressing on as it faces a slate of five SEC games in six weeks.
“I think that our concern is that we get our players to do the right things the right away all the time,” coach Nick Saban said. “If players are committed and doing the right things, we won’t have those issues to be dealing with. But if it’s not happening that way, I think the way to get it that way is to make sure everybody knows and understands that, in this world we live in, there’s consequences for every choice and decision that you make.
“Those consequences can be good or they can be bad, all relative to the choices that you make. I think that’s true in life. I think it’s true in any endeavor, including athletics.”
Junior safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is suspended indefinitely after he reportedly took a loan from a strength and conditioning coach who had ties to an agent. Yahoo Sports published a report in early September alleging that former offensive tackle D.J. Fluker also took money from an agent while at The University of Alabama.
The Crimson Tide has also announced suspensions for four players since the start of fall camp.
“The me-first mentality is something that’s very difficult to have when you’re in such a great team sport like football,” Saban said. “Guys have got to understand that you’ve got to put the team first. You’ve got to buy into the principles and values of the team so that you can have the kind of team chemistry that you need to be successful.”
But quarterback AJ McCarron said he isn’t letting off-the-field distractions affect him and his teammates.
“We just don’t worry about it,” McCarron said. “It’s not affecting me as a person. It has nothing to do with me. It has nothing to do with anybody else. It’s whoever it’s going on with. Us as a team, we can’t let anything like that affect us that we have no control over.”
The issues have not affected the Crimson Tide’s record, as Alabama is 5-0 to start the year and in position to meet LSU in early November undefeated, with the SEC West on the line.
“We can’t let it affect us on the field,” said linebacker Trey DePriest, who was suspended during a portion of fall camp. “We try not to worry about all that stuff. We can’t. It’s out of our hands, so we just keep rolling.”
Alabama heads to Kentucky Saturday for its second SEC road trip of the year. The Crimson Tide returns home for games with Arkansas and Tennessee before a bye week, then hosts LSU and travels to Mississippi State.