Plenty of other coaches do what Nick Saban does. They preach about the process, focus on getting better every day instead of the trophies and championships that await, and want their players to be accountable.
Thing is, Saban does it all better.
He’s the best in the business, and just in case anybody had forgotten that fact after a long offseason, the Crimson Tide’s 41-14 throttling of Michigan on Saturday night was a less-than-gentle reminder.
It would be easy to say the Tide was stunningly good, but there is simply no reason to be surprised at this point.
“His plan, his philosophy, offseason conditioning, attention to detail,” said former Arkansas and Mississippi coach Houston Nutt, who matched up against Saban for years in the Southeastern Conference and is now working as an analyst for the CBS Sports Network. “Right now there’s not a better team, that’s coached as well fundamentally, that’s as tough, as Alabama. All the ingredients, I don’t know there is anyone better.
“It’s the same recipe and it’s been proven year after year after year after year after year of having really good success.”
No need to worry about the Tide’s rebuilt defense. Cornerback Dee Milliner, safety Vinnie Sunseri and linebacker Trey DePriest are new starters, but have plenty of experience and all showed up at Alabama with at least three recruiting stars.
They have spent the last year or two being molded into disciplined playmakers by Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, running a 3-4 defense that is no more exotic than it needs to be.
On offense, it is power running, balanced with efficient passing. And if the Tide needs to pass more than it runs, that’s just fine. Alabama came out throwing on first down against LSU in the BCS championship game because Saban felt his offense was too predictable in the first meeting _ a 9-6 loss.
And there’s nothing wrong with predictable when Mark Ingram is carrying the ball. Or Trent Richardson. Or Eddie Lacy (35 yards and a touchdown against Michigan). Or, now, freshman T.J. Yeldon (111 yards and a TD on 11 carries). The machine keeps on humming.
No coach and coaching staff is better at identifying talented players, and convincing them to attend their school. Since 2008, the first year Saban had time to fully recruit a class, the Tide’s recruiting classes have been ranked No. 1 in the country by Rivals.com four times. The other class ranked fifth.
When he gets them to Tuscaloosa, they almost inevitably reach their potential.
Again, there’s no magic. No secret formula.
Walk into any powerhouse program and you will find state-of-the-art facilities, academic centers and weight rooms. You’ll find a strength-and-conditioning coach who is part physiologist and part drill sergeant. A nutritionist working on training table menus.
Saban is not the only coach who brings in motivational speakers, who might call in a sports psychologist to help a player tap into the confidence necessary to play college football at the highest level.