Gold: Saban ‘different’

Published 12:31 am Tuesday, November 10, 2009

SELMA — Head football coach Nick Saban remains an enigma to many Alabama football fans. Crimson Tide play-by-play radio announcer Eli Gold told a packed house of the Selma Quarterback Club on Monday that Saban is “different.”

“Different doesn’t make him wrong,” Gold told about 150 Ladies Night attendees at the Carl C. Morgan Convention Center. “He’s different.”

Gold, who has been announcing University of Alabama basketball and football games since 1988, said broadcasting games for the No. 3-ranked unbeaten Crimson Tide has been good and bad.

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“It’s been a lot of fun, and it’s been a lot of pressure,” he said. “We’re walking around with a bull’s-eye on our backs. Coaches will tell you that it’s one step at a time. But we still have to be planning ahead, especially now that Alabama is playing Florida for the SEC title.”

Gold said he has been glad to see the Alabama offensive line be so productive.

“It’s been pleasant the way to see how it has developed,” he said.

He also said Saban’s greatest strength — in addition to recruiting — are his motivational skills.

“He has a way of relating to the young men,” he said, “and having them do more than they knew they could. That sounds like most great coaches. … When players come on the field for practice, Coach Saban will ask each one, ‘What are you selling today?’ And if they are not going to ‘sell’ anything, he’ll tell them to go back to the locker room.”

Gold recently released his autobiography, “From Peanuts to the Pressbox,” telling about his growing up selling peanuts in Madison Square Garden to his broadcasting for Alabama, NASCAR, NFL and NHL. He told the Quarterback Club about the time Alabama played Ole Miss in Memorial Stadium in Jackson, Miss.

The game marked the first time the pressbox announcers were able to contact the field reporters with wireless headsets.

“The stadium is right across the street from a large medical complex,” Gold said about University Medical Center. “The headsets worked great over the air, but what we heard was “Dr. Johnson, Room 320. Stat. Dr. Johnson.” Needless to say, they needed a little tweaking.”

Another story concerned an Alabama preseason basketball game against one of the Soviet Bloc countries. When the liaison to the Belarus basketball helped Gold pronounce the players’ names, he skipped one player.

“So I asked him, ‘Comrade why did you skip No. 5?’” Gold said. “And the liaison said, ‘No. 5 is pronounced the way it is spelled.’ So I looked at the name again. Y-O-U-R-I-N.

“So when the game started, the first time I said, ‘So here’s Yourin dribbling down the court,’ we couldn’t stop snickering,” Gold said. “And he scored 38 points.”