Nick Saban on 2003 LSU title team: ‘I’d love to see all those guys’

Alabama coach Nick Saban got an invitation to Baton Rouge for the reunion of LSU’s 2003 national title team Saturday.

Unfortunately, a road game at Kentucky got in the way.

“I would absolutely go,” Saban said during a Wednesday press conference. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for all the players that were on the team and what they accomplished. I was really proud to be a part of it.”

And sadly, no one will get to see how the Tigers’ faithful would welcome the coach who ended a 45-year championship drought.

Will Muschamp, the Tigers defensive coordinator in ’03, will make the event. He, of course, is now the head coach of No. 17 Florida (4-1, 3-0 SEC), which faces the 10th-ranked Tigers (5-1, 1-1) at 2:30 p.m.

“They contacted me,” Muschamp said, “but I’m worried about that 2013 LSU team, not the 2003 one.”

The 2003 team — whose sole loss came to Florida at Tiger Stadium — saw Corey Webster, LaRon Landry, Joseph Addai, Devery Henderson and Marcus Spears land on NFL rosters.

Seeing the collection of players assembled is a sight Muschamp will enjoy taking in.

“It’ll be good to see those guys on the field a little bit. It was a special group,” he said. “We had a bunch of guys go play on Sunday, but we had a bunch of successful people, whether they’re teachers, whether they’re in the business world. They’ve all done an outstanding job and it was a lot of fun.”

Saban recorded a video message to the team that will not be played publicly during the halftime festivities, because “it’s nothing anybody needs to know publicly,” he said.

“I’m actually sorry I can’t be there,” Saban said. “I’d love to see all those guys.”

Injury updates

On Monday, wide receiver Jarvis Landry exited the LSU practice facility with his right leg in a boot and on crutches.

The junior gingerly left the field before halftime against Mississippi State, but played in the second half of a 59-26 victory. Wednesday evening, LSU coach Les Miles indicated Landry is on course to see action Saturday against the Gators.

“Jarvis practiced a little bit today,” Miles said. “We think we’ll be moderate in our approach. He’ll practice full tomorrow, and do a little something Friday.

Senior strong safety Craig Loston (groin) practiced Wednesday, and Miles indicated outside linebacker Tahj Jones (hamstring) should also be available.

Scheduling silence

Over the offseason, Miles and Athletic Director Joe Alleva lobbied for changes to the SEC scheduling format, arguing the current structure produces a competitive imbalance over time.

A plank of that campaign was that permanent cross-division rivalries, such as LSU’s yearly meeting with Florida, produce more difficult slates over time than, for example, the annual Ole Miss-Vanderbilt matchup.

Asked Wednesday if knew of any progress on changes looming, Miles didn’t take up the topic.

“I have no idea,” Miles said. I’m excited about the opportunity to play Florida, and (I’ve) given no thought to scheduling issues.”

The SEC and commissioner Mike Slive said the issue of changing the football scheduling format is under review, and so-called bridge schedules will likely be in place through 2015.

Parking changes

An additional 350 free parking spaces will be open for fans ahead of Saturday’s game against the Gators.

Work on an additional lot abutting the LSU Golf Course is done, meaning the spots will be available moving forward for future home games.

The new lot is located off Gourrier Avenue next to the golf course and across the street from Alex Box Stadium. Availability in the grass lot is on a first-come, first-serve basis.