Alabama head coach Nick Saban is often seen as a robotic figure who doesn’t have a care in the world for much joy or topics of interest outside the realm of a football gridiron. Saban is the guy who doesn’t give a crap about a once-in-a-generation experience solar eclipse. He cares more about once-in-a-generation defensive tackles and linebackers. And to his credit, the strong focus on football has led Saban to icon status in the sport and a position of royalty in the state of Alabama. And, of course, that has made him extremely rich over the years.
Saban is the guy who, moments after winning a national championship, immediately shifted his focus to recruiting with signing day just around the corner while being interviewed on the freaking field with confetti still flying. Striving to be the absolute best is what makes him tick, but he uses his own personal experiences from his past to keep himself, and his players, grounded and focused on the next goal no matter what else may be happening.
The West Virginia native has often admitted that he is the man and coach he is today because of his life experiences and lessons learned in his past. And this may surprise you, but Saban wasn’t always the winner he is today. And he has seen his sad days and down moments get the best of him. Fortunately for Saban, he had a voice of reason and logic let him know there is no excuse for not giving your best effort.
During his weekly press conference on Wednesday, Saban was asked whether or not Alabama would be doing anything to assist any players who have been affected by the damage of Hurricane Harvey. The storm may have passed weeks ago, but the SEC announced it was donating $100,000 each to Texas A&M and Florida to help out any faculty, staff, and students who may have been impacted by the storm’s wrath.
Considering the resources available at Alabama, the question was topical and relevant for Saban, who himself is among the highest-paid coaches in the nation. Saban knows the storm has impacted many lives in the region, including some within his own program, but he went to a rare place in the public eye by sharing a story about a time he was dumped in high school and relayed how he uses that experience to keep his players focused.
The lesson of the story? You can’t let your personal issues interfere with your work.
We’ll put aside the irony of comparing playing college football to working a job for a moment and focus on the overall message Saban is drilling home, because it is a valuable life lesson in all walks of life. And it is typical Saban.
A program can not achieve such a high level of success for as long as Alabama has without restraint and caving to outside distractions. Say what you will about the apparent focus on football first, second, and third, but the school is not paying Saban as much as he is getting to allow for the possibility of any slipping up as a program. And credit Saban for installing a methodical system of discipline and accountability to ensure Alabama lives up to the expectations placed upon them and clears the bar they have set for themselves.
I, for one, would love to get more story times with Saban, because I imagine he has a wealth of stories to share that the public may not always get access to. He will share one from time to time, and they just about always reveal a human side to the man who is otherwise just focused on football 24/7.
Alabama travels to Texas A&M this weekend after demolishing Vanderbilt and Ole Miss the last two weeks by a combined score of 125-3. Whatever Saban is telling his team, it is clearly working.
As for the girl who dumped him, huge props to the reporter who manages to track her down for an exclusive interview.