"Also, I'd like to update you on the status of Alex Kozan," Malzahn said of his Outland Trophy Watch List lineman. "Kozan recently had back surgery. He injured his back while he was home lifting during the summer. He came back, we tried to rehab it, do some different things and he tweaked it. The doctors just felt like it was the best thing for him and his future to have surgery. He will miss the season."
Jermaine Whitehead, a senior defensive back, didn't seem to mind, though. He said he was "100 percent" behind his coach's decision to sit Marshall and Mincy. Whitehead even claimed that it would be a positive for others to see that "that action [will] not be tolerated." He laughed at the thought of it being a distraction just as easily as he brushed off the idea of hype and expectations.
"I don't pay attention to it," he said. "The media is so wishy-washy."
That was one of the last things he said before his turn in front of the cameras was over. Malzahn was long gone. The rest of the players had left as well. The conference room emptied, and the attention turned toward tomorrow.
It wasn't a great start for either Auburn or Alabama on Friday. For two teams ranked in the top five of the Amway Coaches Poll, suspensions and injuries were the last thing anyone wanted. The questions are piling up.
It wasn't a clean first day, but it was over.