It began as a simple question: Who is Alabama's Mike linebacker going to be? It ended as a diatribe on how and why the way Alabama teaches defense in the spring differs from the fall.
In that Nick Saban way he does, the Alabama head coach explained -- forcefully, somewhat irritated, his voice and cadence rising as he goes -- that Alabama doesn't have a starting Mike as of yet, because Alabama doesn't have a Mike linebacker at all in the spring.
"We play right and left safety, we play right and left outside 'backer, we play right and left inside 'backer. They've got to be Mike, they've got to be Will."
This approach serves the team and the players in multiple ways, Saban says. By teaching his linebackers to play right and left, by teach his safeties to play to the field and the boundary, Saban doubles his depth, doubles his evaluation pool at each position, and doubles each player's preparedness to see the field.
"We're trying to create diversity in players, not trying to give you an answer so you can write about who the starter is everywhere. Aight? And then we'll figure out at the end of the spring and when we go into fall camp, 'Okay, this is the best way for us to play.' But if we don't experiment and move guys around...
But then the other good thing is, next year you can get the next best guy in the game because he can play Mike or Will. Aight?"
I counted two Aights there, in the middle of March, six months away from his 15th season. The GOAT has still got it.