Success, Saban-Style

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Without a coach there really isn’t a team. You can have depth and strength but without someone managing the team, the players will be lost. Nick Saban, Alabama’s head coach, has done amazing things his whole career. He is part of sports history now.

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Saban began his SEC head coaching career in November 1999 when he was hired by LSU. Saban had good times and bad times with this team, but that all changed in 2003. That year, the Tigers won the SEC West, the SEC Championship, and eventually beat the Ohio State Buckeyes in the national championship game. This was LSU’s first championship since 1958! It’s not that LSU hadn’t had good players in the previous 50 years; they just needed someone like Saban to step in and take control. Sadly, after one more year at LSU, Saban left and went to the NFL.

Saban was hired on Christmas Day 2004 to be the head coach of the struggling Miami Dolphins. He left his five-year LSU head coaching job for the NFL, but was soon reminded that he preferred coaching football on the college level. The Dolphins finished the 2005 season 9-7and went 6-10 in the 2006 season. Saban left the NFL in 2007 for college football coaching again.

On January 3, 2007, Saban started what I think is the highlight of his career. That day he was hired as the University of Alabama’s head coach. Lots of questions surrounded Saban and people debated his coaching skill. During the 2007 season the Tide finished with a winning record of 7-6. In 2008, Alabama went undefeated but sadly lost the SEC Championship Game to Florida and went on to lose the Sugar Bowl to Utah. 2009 was the Tide’s glory year. They went undefeated, beat Florida in the SEC Championship, and went on to win the National Championship in Pasadena (I went! It was AWESOME!). 2010 was an off year and Alabama went 10-3, losing to South Carolina, LSU, and the 2010 National Champion Auburn Tigers.

The 2011 season started off really well for the Tide, at least up until November 5 when they lost a heartbreaker to LSU in overtime. The game was primarily a show of defense, and the Tide lost by a field goal, 9-6. But that was not the end of the Crimson Tide because on December 6, Alabama was chosen to be in the National Championship Game against none other than archrival LSU.

Saban had to figure out how to motivate his team when he found out that they would have a rematch with LSU. “Coach Saban told us it’s not about the game, it’s about how you respond to adversity,” say Chance Warmack, a third-year offensive lineman. Nico Johnson, an inside linebacker, adds: “Coach Saban showed us the mistakes and opportunities we wasted during [the first LSU] game and where we could have been successful.”

Forty-one days for Saban to prepare his team was forty-one days too many in LSU’s eyes. Alabama came out to win. And a history-making win it was: It was the first shutout in a BCS National Championship Game, a 21-0 win for the Tide.

All in all, Saban is a pretty amazing football coach. Both Warmack and Johnson told me that he expects his players to work hard and give no less than 110%. Saban has won three national championships with two different teams in 10 years by doing just that. That’s success Saban-style.

As we all know, a tornado touched down in Tuscaloosa on April 27, 2011, devastating many parts of the community. Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide stepped in to help. During the hard months of rebuilding that followed, everyone looked forward to Alabama’s 2011 football season. Again, Saban and the Crimson Tide delivered. Johnson says it best, “This championship wasn’t just for us, but for the whole community of Tuscaloosa.”