Headphones. Cellphones. I-pads. TV. The ladies. There are plenty of distractions for college students, including student athletes. Even when preparing for a big game. A game like Alabama/LSU. Nick Saban knows this.

“I come up with different things to get the players to pay attention,” Saban said Thursday on ESPN's The Pat McAfee Show.. “Like [Wednesday] after practice, I said, ‘I want everybody to put their hand over their ear because I don’t want what I’m going to say to go in one ear and out the other.’ It was like the ultimate attention-getter. Like, ‘What is he going to say now?’ Well, I said the same thing I’ve been saying all week.

“But they listened. I don’t know if they listened before, but I think they listened yesterday. You’re always trying to come up with a new way to pay attention and not focus on the wrong things.”

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“I think when you give respect, you get respect, and I think that’s something that this team has done a really good job of. We’ve got really good team chemistry and they’ve showed a resiliency that some of our teams – and how do you respond to hard?

“We had a really good team last year, but when you look at it, when it got right down to the end of the Tennessee game or the end of the LSU game, we didn’t handle hard very well. I think if you want to be a really good team, you’ve got to be able to handle hard well. When things get difficult, that’s when you’ve got to be able to stay focused and be relentless in how you go about doing your work.”

He's got  a point.

It remains to be seen if that new trick worked and his players took in his message. That answer will come Saturday at 6:45 p.m. CT when LSU visits Bama. At stake is the driver's seat in the SEC West race.

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