Sure, the national championships are nice.
But the real benefit of Nick Saban coaching Alabama? Right here:
Sure, the national championships are nice.
But the real benefit of Nick Saban coaching Alabama? Right here:
For those thinking something was wrong with the Tide chemistry-wise early this year, you were right:
“I didn’t like the chemistry of the team in the beginning of the season,” Saban said on his radio show Thursday night. “There was just something not right.”
It was a generational thing.
“The older guys and the younger guys weren’t cheehawing like you’d like for them to. The younger guys weren’t respecting the older guys like they should and the older guys probably didn’t care enough about the development of the younger guys.”
The article also tells us how Saban fixed the problem by improving communication within the team and with this:
“And the other thing I do, if a guy’s not doing what he’s supposed to do in practice and it’s really upsetting to some of the older players who are trying to do the right thing, I say ‘Look, you don’t have to practice today. Just go over there and stand in the box. Just go stand in the box. You don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to practice, you don’t have to up up-downs, you don’t have to do exercises. Just stand in the box and everybody out here’s going to know you’re not doing what you’re supposed to do.’”
How many have visited the box?
Two, Saban said without identifying them.
I’d like to know who spent practice lounging in the box. I’ve got a couple of guesses.
I liked Nick Saban as a coach even before he arrived at Alabama. One reason was his halftime interviews.
Saturday night, he added another to the list of his classics:
Concerning AJ’s toe:
Asked Tuesday if the minor injury affected McCarron’s mobility in Saturday’s 35-10 victory over Virginia Tech, Saban said he was “sort of sick and tired of talking about this BS because it’s nothing.”
“AJ’s mobility is fine,” Saban said. “His mobility was fine in the game and there was nothing wrong with him in the game.”
Concerning asking about players that didn’t play:
“The guy plays every play in the game and on two special teams, he’s running down the sidelines with Christion Jones, faster than Christion Jones is, cuts the angle off the safety so the guy can run for a touchdown,” Saban said. “Why isn’t somebody asking about him? What’s wrong with asking about him and what kind of player he is and how did he do? Because I mean, that guy does fantastic.”
Concerning wake-up calls:
Before he fielded a single question, Saban called out an unnamed group of players he hoped received a “wake-up call” from Saturday’s 35-10 victory over Virginia Tech. His analogy of the situation went away from the football field and into the world of dog walking.
“We live in a society now where everybody wants to do what they want to do. Nobody wants to be obedient. Nobody wants to pay attention to rules or whatever,” Saban said. “When you make a rule you’ve got to have your dog on a leash, somebody wants to have their dog not on a leash. That’s the way it is.
“We can’t have a team of people like that. We’ve got rules, we’ve got things that people need to buy into, be committed to, principles and values of the organization. Everybody’s got to do it. If everybody’s not willing to do it, then we probably shouldn’t play them, we should play somebody else and get people that are bought in.”
He added that he doesn’t believe Alabama can win “with people who don’t do that.”
And more about playing time for freshmen:
Asked about some of Alabama’s young wide receivers — particularly redshirt freshman Chris Black and freshmen Raheem Falkins and Robert Foster – and how they would be able to crack into the playing rotation, Saban countered with a question of his own.
“Who do you want to take off the field?” Saban asked. “Do you want to take Amari Cooper off, do you want to take Christion Jones off, do you want to take(DeAndrew) White off, do you want to take Kenny Bell off, do you want to take Kevin Norwood off? Because they have lots of experience and they have good karma with the quarterback.
“I think all those young guys have to develop that. It takes time to develop. And they’re talented guys and we’re pleased and happy to have them here, but it’s kind of up to them to prove that we can trust them.”
“I didn’t see enough to take T.J. (Yeldon) out, or (Jalston) Fowler or Dee Hart,” Saban said. “I saw that they have ability and potential and they need time to develop so that they’re comfortable and confident in doing what they’re supposed to do and they can do it fast.”
And those blurbs don’t even include his comments concerning Kenny Bell and his status on the team.
We can chuckle about how Saban delivers his message, but he actually delivered some solid information here. And like he does in many of his press conferences, he sent a message to the team. Here are a few takeaways from his comments:
1) Sportswriters don’t always ask smart questions. Yes, we are interested to know about the progress of younger players and why they didn’t play or only played a little, but those questions do, indeed, overlook some obviously stellar performances, like Mosley’s.
2) The questions about McCarron’s toe missed the mark entirely. It was pretty obvious that McCarron didn’t play all that well, at least statistically, but the thing that stood out more than his poor stats were his poor fundamentals. He seemed to be drifting back in the pocket all game and throwing off of his back foot. Sure, his performance wasn’t very McCarron-like, but it was probably more due to the offensive line play than his aching toe.
3) Wake-up calls. Yes, some were sent. I think the question is, to whom were they sent? My guesses include the offensive line, possibly the receivers, and maybe even to Kenny Bell. But this also could be another one of Saban’s Jedi mind tricks. The team played ugly. Everybody knows that. But I’m sure Saban would rather be feeding this fire than talking for two weeks about Texas A&M and how great and invincible his team is.
4) Playing time for new guys. These highly rated freshmen have been hyped since last signing day, so I think it’s normal that folks want to know how they played. But it’s also rather obvious when your offense is so out of sync, that it may not be the best time to give a chunk of playing time to freshmen. I don’t think the game plan for Va Tech was very dynamic, by design, and I also think the team let down when up 14-0, but I don’t think that meant the offensive should have stop trying to execute properly. I think Saban and Nussmeier went in basic, and stayed basic – even in the face of a dynamic defense like the Hokies, but still wanted the offense to get into a rhythm and dominate. (Obviously, that never happened.)
Former NFL executive Scott Pioli recently weighed-in on the Nick Saban – Tim Davis kerfuffle.
Before I offer a snippet, let me give you a hint: you’re going to like what he says.
Say what you will about Pioli being part of the Saban family – he’s worked with Saban and also Bill Belichick, these comments provide the best perspective I’ve seen on this mess:
“[Davis] spends a year out of football, can’t get a job, Nick creates a position at the University of Alabama to help a guy who’s been unemployed he shows his loyalty to the guy, brings him in, creates a position, pays him. This guy made the choice to come work for Nick and now a couple years later, he’s bashing a guy who really helped him,” Pioli said. “And to me this is something within the industry that I really struggle with, Mike, because I’ve see it happen to Bill Belichick, I’ve seen it happen to Bill Parcells, I just don’t understand the mentality of people who are given opportunities, they seize the opportunity, they get paid, and then some time in the future they start to air dirty laundry or their hard feelings toward someone. I just don’t understand why people can’t keep their mouths shut and move on. So, to me, it’s one of these trends in sports that I see, that I just, truly
I don’t understand it either, Scott, and it disappoints me as well.
“In the future, I’m going to be more committed in order to justify the honor you’ve given to me tonight.” [Coach Saban after being inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame]
Tell the truth. The first time or so after you heard the name “Nick Saban” the phrase “Nick Satan” also ran through your mind.
I know it did for me.
So I’m sure Nick Saban has heard the phrase a couple of million times in his lifetime. And it’s probably one of those things you never like and you never get used to. One of those things you wish people would just quietly pass by.
For Saban, though, the phrase doesn’t just emanate from his surname. In case you haven’t heard, he’s got sort of a reputation as being a tough boss.
So this week, Florida offensive line coach Tim Davis tried to be a funny-man at a gathering of Florida boosters:
“I’ve always wanted to work with Will,” Davis said. “Will’s got a plan. Will coached under the devil himself for seven years. I only did three. He did seven. And his DNA is not any different than Nick.”
Real original, coach Davis.
Most expected coach Saban to bypass the comments and continue The Process undisturbed. But he addressed the issue with reporters at a Crimson Caravan event:
“I try to do right by the people that work for me,” he said. “It’s a tough, demanding job. And at the same time, if anybody had an issue or problem with me, I would want them to just tell me.”
“Twice. On two occasions,” Saban said. “It’s just disappointing. If somebody has a problem with me, I’d appreciate it if they’d tell me. If I’m doing something to offend somebody, I’d certainly like to do whatever I have to do to fix it. It’s not our intention. It’s not what we try to do.
“We’re in a tough business. It’s very competitive. Sometimes you’ve got to demand that people do things that maybe they don’t want to do, but it’s not personal.”
“I know it’s not representative of Will Muschamp and the University of Florida and the way they do things,” he said. “I know that, because I’m close enough to Will to know that.”
I’m not sure why people thought Saban would have no response. I mean, at some point he’s going to be in front of reporters and be asked about the situation. But, as it almost always the case, Saban handled the issue brilliantly.
In addition to generating a bit of sympathy for himself and showing a bit of his personal side, Saban also issued a few zingers:
Have you ever wondered why coach Saban limits the time his assistant coaches spend with the media? Consider this issue to be one of the top reasons.
Do I think Saban was seriously offended by Davis’ comments. I doubt it.
Do I think he meant to deliver the messages I’ve outlined above? I doubt he consciously thought about it. But that doesn’t mean the message wasn’t delivered.
It’s always fashionable for the college football world to bash Nick Saban for “roster management” and all that falls within that concept, namely oversigning, greyshirting, medical redshirts and pulling scholarships.
I generally defend these practices, especially when coach Saban is mentioned, by saying a couple of things: 1) these things aren’t necessarily illegal, immoral or unethical; 2) we don’t usually know all of the story.
Regarding #1, most of the complaints seem to come from one particular side of the political spectrum and I’ll leave it at that.
Regarding #2, most of us never know the details of coach and player (prospect or current) conversations. My belief is that if a coach is caught lying to his players, word gets out and that will eventually hurt recruiting. In the case of Nick Saban, that would even more so seem to be the case. I call that the free market of college football.
There must be a reason players are flocking to Alabama to play for Saban. The type of player being recruited by Alabama could play anywhere in the country and would certainly flee if what Saban was selling didn’t turn out as he said.
Which brings us to one Lane Kiffin who seems to be having a run-in with the free market:
Fitts spoke to several of Kiffin’s assistants at the Under Armour All-America game, and across the board all were excited to have the player with the rest of the team as soon as possible. That was on January 5. Two days later, and thus three days before Fitts’ life was supposed to change forever as he entered college, he received a phone call saying his scholarship was no longer available for the spring semester.
That’s right. Ole Laner got caught a scholarship short and had to renege on his word with a highly touted recruit. What did the recruit do? He’s going somewhere else:
Fitts will not be heading to Los Angeles in the fall. Instead, the young man is looking for an entirely new place to play. His coach told the Riverside Press-Enterprise that Notre Dame, Washington and UCLA were all back in the mix for the player’s services.
(Actually, if Fitts goes to UCLA he will be in Los Angeles.)
When we start to routinely hear stories about coach Saban, then we can start worrying. My guess, though, is that we won’t.
So much has been written and said about what a bear it is to have Nick Saban as a boss. (See what I did there?) That’s why these comments from a guy named Pete Jenkins are so interesting:
“I’ve worked for some coaches who had busywork for me where I spent time late at night basically guarding my desk,” Jenkins said. “Even though the work day was really tough with Nick, at least none of it was a waste of time. … I’ve worked for a lot of people who kept me later than coach Saban, people who started me earlier than coach Saban, but nobody filled my day with more relative importance than he did.”
Jenkins was a long-time assistant coach that worked for LSU, including a couple of years under Saban. I don’t know that he’s pointing these comments toward anyone in particular, but I do think this puts some things related to Saban into perspective.
When Nick Saban was hired back in early 2007, like most of you, I was pretty dang pumped. Not quite as pumped as this woman, but pretty dang pumped:
I didn’t really know what the next five years would hold, but I knew they wouldn’t be anything like the 10 prior. Sure, we won an SEC title in 1999, but gap between Gene Stallings and Saban was a wide one, and to be honest, it severely stretched my patience as a fan. To be clear, there’s no way I would ever be a true fan of another team, but the Dubose to Fran to Price to Shula era was a sickening one. Hovering above everything was a feeling that the program was just settling, barely getting by.
Year after year in this era as I took my family to games, it became apparent to me that my children weren’t experiencing anything special related to Alabama football. I remember of my kids, after another loss to a rival, asking, “Will we ever beat this team?” Ouch. That hurt.
But things began to change on the afternoon of November 4, 2006. My family had just witnessed one of the ugliest performances in Crimson Tide history as Bama lost 24-16 to Mississippi State. But as I walked out of the stadium on that glorious fall afternoon, I knew the camel’s back had been broken and things were about to change – again. We went on to stink up the rest of the season, but the loss to the Bullies, in my opinion, was the final stink bomb that made the administration see that a change was needed.
Like I mentioned above, I didn’t know what the next few years would hold. I only knew they would be different.
Well, five years in, different has been this:
That’s an on-the-field record of 55 wins, 12 losses and two national championships.
What is this, the 1970s again?
Here’s another sobering fact, given a play or two here and there and one or two less injuries and Alabama could easily be preparing to defend a four-peat right now.
Yep. A play or two in the fourth quarter against Florida in the 2008 SEC Championship game and the Tide would have played for the BCS Title, and most likely would have won it.
In 2010, I’ll concede the embarrassing loss to South Carolina, but a play or two against LSU and Auburn and one or two less minor injuries (Barrett Jones and D.J. Fluker come to mind) and the Tide would have been in the SEC title game again – with revenge on it’s mind against USC. There’s also no doubt in my mind about this: the Tide’s defense would have swamped Oregon and the Tide’s offense would have fared really well against the Ducks.
So, a four-peat isn’t all that far-fetched.
But I don’t mean to get off-track talking about that. The reality is, five years in, Nick Saban has brought two BCS titles to home to Alabama. He’s completely changed the talent level to the point that there’s probably more talent in Tuscaloosa than on any other college campus in the country. And there’s more schedule to arrive this summer and in 2013.
Five years in, I think it’s safe to say that Alabama fans are completely satisfied with the Nick Saban hire. Sure, there was the loss to Louisiana-Monroe and some nose-holding as parts of the 2007 team were finally flushed, and yes, there have been a few cry babies over perceived “roster management issues,” but other than that, about the biggest problem has been Saban getting dumped with a bucket of red sports drink before hoisting the crystal ball in Pasadena (oh, that and someone smashing the 2011 crystall ball into a jillion pieces).
Take away the 2011 title, though, and I actually believe there would have been some murmuring. If the Tide has lost in New Orleans in the rematch against LSU, that would have left Saban with only one SEC title and one national title in those five season. I know, I know. Some schools can go forever (or 50+ years) between titles, but I think Alabama fans would have viewed things a bit differently. (Plus Les Miles would have forever thereafter been known as your daddy.)
In the years before Saban, we were in the midst of losing streaks to Auburn and LSU and had pretty much been dominated by Tennessee for much longer than I care to remember. We couldn’t win in November and were struggling against the also-rans in the conference. Heck, we were an also ran.
But we’re not now and while other teams in the conference fret over plays run per game and installing a pro-set and how to survive after losing a rock star coordinator, our questions are how high in the top five will we be ranked and how long will this run last? No, things like this don’t last forever, even very, very good things like this. Life goes by very fast and before you know it, we’ll blink and it’ll be gone. So I’m going to enjoy it. Not the enjoying it where you slap your genitals on someone’s neck. No, the kind where you just simply enjoy it. The kind where you don’t need to brag or prove your point by talking smack (although I’m sure I’ll do that some). The kind where you know the guy in charge cares more about the program – even the smallest details – much, much more than you do. The kind where you know the team is working harder than you expect them to. The kind where you can just be a fan.
I don’t know when or how it will come to an end, so I’m just going to enjoy it.