HOOVER, Ala. - Nick Saban is as hard to distract as he is to beat.
Ask the Alabama coach and Marion County (W.Va.) native what winning a third straight national title would mean, and he wonders why he'd waste brain juice thinking about it. Compare him to Bear Bryant, and he swiftly dismisses such talk - though it isn't sounding so farfetched these days.
The Crimson Tide's ultra-focused coach didn't let 1,000-plus reporters at Southeastern Conference media days change his process-oriented approach.
Three straight titles sure would be huge, huh?
"I don't think about it in that regard. I never, ever do,'' Saban responded before his podium address. "I think the most important thing for me to do is to get our staff, the people in our organization, our players to be as good as this team can be. Can we get them to make a commitment to a standard that is going to let them play at a high level on a consistent basis that they are capable of?
"And if we do that maybe we'll give ourselves a chance, and I think that's the goal. That's what I think about. That's what we focus on. That's what we try to get accomplished with the players.''
Saban has won two straight championships and three of the last four after claiming another one at LSU. Can observers fairly say he's reaching Bear-ified air?
"I don't think I have any reason that anybody should do that. I think Bear Bryant is probably the greatest coach in college football in terms of what he accomplished, what his legacy is,'' said Saban, citing not only the titles but how Bryant influenced his players' lives.
"There's no way that we have done anything close to what he's done in terms of his consistency over time, how he changed what he did to impact the times. They threw the ball and won. They ran the wishbone and won. He changed tremendously to do what he needed to do to be successful.''
The Tide has been mostly driving the Rolls Royce of football conferences since Saban got the program rolling. The SEC has won the last seven national titles.
Even losses to top contenders Texas A&M last year and LSU two years ago have been mere speed bumps to an Alabama program with the sturdiest of shock absorbers.
Bama barely pulled out wins over both LSU and Georgia in the SEC title game last season. Once again - as the Tigers' Les Miles points out - the Tide doesn't have to play East powers Georgia, Florida or South Carolina in the regular season.
LSU, meanwhile, faces Georgia and Florida.