Nick Saban has ‘a lot of respect’ for Miami Hurricanes, Manny Diaz

Miami will be the latest big-name neutral-site opponent for Alabama.
Alabama coach Nick Saban said he's looking forward to opening this season against Miami.
Alabama coach Nick Saban said he's looking forward to opening this season against Miami. [ BUTCH DILL | AP ]
Published July 21, 2021|Updated July 21, 2021

HOOVER, Ala. — Alabama coach Nick Saban praised Miami coach Manny Diaz for what he has done with the Hurricanes as they prepare to face off against each other in the Sept. 4 season opener in Atlanta.

“We certainly have a lot of respect for what Manny Diaz has done, the team that Miami has,” Saban said Wednesday during SEC media days. “They were 8-3 last year with a lot of good returning players. So this will be certainly a challenge for us as an opener and something that we’re certainly looking forward to.”

Related: We ranked all 78 Florida college football games from worst to first

This will be the latest neutral-site opener for Saban and the Crimson Tide. Alabama has won all 10 under Saban by an average of 25 points each. That includes a 24-7 victory over Florida State at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in 2017.

“We really enjoy playing in neutral-site games,” Saban said. “It’s been good for our players. It’s been good for our fans.”

Defensive lineman Phidarian Mathis said he hasn’t looked at Miami much yet. But he does have thoughts about the other Florida team on the early part of Alabama’s schedule: a Week 3 trip to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

“That’s something I always watch on ESPN, how the atmosphere is there,” Mathis said. “I dream of playing in games like that, so I can’t wait to get out there just to see how their fans are, the electric, and all that.”

Receiver John Metchie said he’s excited to play Miami in Week 1.

“I know they’re going to be really good, especially their quarterback (D’Eriq King), their leading safety (Bubba Bolden),” Metchie said. “I know they’ll have a good defense. They always have some exotic calls on defense, so I’m definitely excited to play that.”

We’ll have more from Alabama later today.

• • •

Never miss out on the latest with the Bucs, Rays, Lightning, Florida college sports and more. Follow our Tampa Bay Times sports team on Twitter and Facebook.