— TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Nick Saban said some Alabama players didn't start out handling the prosperity of a second straight national championship particularly well.
Some cut classes and, more visibly, four players were arrested and ultimately dismissed from school. Saban said things got considerably better once the offseason conditioning program started.
"I'd say until we got into the offseason program and sort of got a handle on things, that we did not respond as well as we would like with this group," the Crimson Tide coach said Saturday after the team's first spring practice.
"I think they've made a tremendous amount of improvement. I think we had more guys missing class, more issues. This was the first behavioral issue we've had with the guys that got in trouble in 5 1/2 years.
"Just a lot of little loose-ended things that when guys have entitlement, you see a little slippage."
The biggest "slippage" came when defensive back Eddie Williams and linebackers D.J. Pettway and Tyler Hayes were arrested and charged with robbing two fellow students.
Those players and H-back Brent Calloway — who was charged with using a stolen debit card — were kicked out of school.
The players addressed the issues in a team meeting.
"We all had a meeting and basically told everybody that's not the way we do things," linebacker C.J. Mosley said. "It's good that we're back in football because we don't have all of that off time we've been having. We just have to focus on football and going to school. That's when the family and leadership part of things start to set in."
Quarterback AJ McCarron figures to have an even bigger leadership role with the departure of three All-American offensive lineman and tailback Eddie Lacy. He said it comes down to accountability.