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Saban reflects on 9-11: First thing that comes in mind is the airplane flying into the building

Alabama's record-setting head coach discussed the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks on the SEC coaches' teleconference

The 20th anniversary of the most large-scale terrorist attack on United States' soil, the 9-11-2001 airplane hijackings by Islamic extremists linked to al Qaeda, coincides this weekend with the opening of the NFL season and second full week of college football.

Franchises and schools across the country are planning a variety of tributes – from military flyovers to on-field markers, helmet and uniform patches and more – to commemorate the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 and left a gaping hole in the New York City skyline, not to mention the billions of dollars of damage.

Wednesday, Alabama coach Nick Saban was asked what he remembered about the day of the attack.

“When you started to ask the question, the first thing that comes in my mind is the airplane flying into a building, the visual picture I have of that, where I was,” Saban said on the weekly Southeastern Conference coaches' teleconference. “I was at LSU at the time, and seeing that happen, seeing the effect and the impact that it had on every individual that worked in the organization, as well as all the players ... It wasn’t really about whether you were going to play or not play.

“It was really trying to handle your emotions relative to what happened. The magnitude of what happened was so devastating, that it’s hard to really think about anything else.

“It certainly probably was the best decision not to play. Probably good for the players and good for everyone to have a chance to deal with their emotions.”

As it turned out, Saban won his first-ever SEC Championship in 2001 when his Tigers avenged a regular-season loss to Tennessee with the title-game victory inside the Georgia Dome, and three years later Saban captured the first of his NCAA-record seven national championships.