3-point stance: Saban happy with progress

1. Alabama coach Nick Saban said he learned as a young coach not to pay attention to what people outside the program think. But he did allow Sunday morning that he believes the 2012 Crimson Tide’s best quality is that it exceeded expectations. “If you look at all the players that we lost last year,” Saban said, “the leadership that we lost, the injuries that we’ve had, the schedule that we played, the adversity that had to be overcome. ... I’m really proud of what this team actually was able to accomplish together as a group.”

2. Was it two years ago that NCAA president Mark Emmert began a broad push for a $2,000 stipend for all student-athletes? It has never happened, in part because the logistics are maddening. For instance, if the NCAA hands out $2,000, then the federal government would deduct $2,000 from a student’s Pell Grant. A special NCAA committee is still working on it. “It’s not for want of trying that we haven’t found the right formula yet,” Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said.

3. Did anyone think that the first college football head coach to take an NFL head coaching job would be Doug Marrone of Syracuse? The Buffalo Bills hired Marrone, who went 25-25 over four seasons with the Orange. That may sound average, but in the four seasons before Marrone, Syracuse went 10-37. Syracuse has had success hiring NFL assistant coaches such as Marrone and Dick MacPherson. Keep an eye on a guy like New York Giants offensive line coach Pat Flaherty. He has northeastern roots and a long pedigree.